The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-Level Cross-Country Perspective

33 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2011

See all articles by Tamim Bayoumi

Tamim Bayoumi

International Monetary Fund (IMF); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Hui Tong

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Shang-Jin Wei

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); International Monetary Fund (IMF); Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2010

Abstract

China’s high corporate savings rate is commonly claimed to be a key driver for the country’s large current account surplus. The mainstream explanation for high corporate savings is a combination of windfall profits in state-owned firms, especially in resource sectors, and mis-governance of state-owned firms represented by their low dividend payout. The paper casts doubt on these views by comparing the savings of 1557 Chinese listed firms with those of 29330 listed firms from 51 other countries over 2002-07. First, Chinese firms do not have a significantly higher savings rate (as a share of total assets) than the global average because corporations in most countries have a high savings rate. The rising corporate savings rate is also consistent with a global trend. Second, there is no significant difference in the savings behavior and dividend patterns between Chinese majority state-owned and private listed firms, contrary to the received wisdom.

Keywords: China, People's Republic of, Corporate sector, Cross country analysis, Current account surpluses, Economic models, Investment, Private savings, Public enterprises, Savings

Suggested Citation

Bayoumi, Tamim and Tong, Hui and Wei, Shang-Jin, The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-Level Cross-Country Perspective (December 2010). IMF Working Papers, Vol. , pp. 1-32, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1751387

Tamim Bayoumi

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States
202-623-6333 (Phone)
202-623-4795 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Hui Tong

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Shang-Jin Wei

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Beijing, 100084
China

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