Financial Liberalization and Firms’ Capital Structure Adjustments Evidence from Southeast Asia and South America
32 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2012
Date Written: February, 27 2012
This paper investigates the impact of financial liberalization on the adjustment of debt ratios in 12 emerging markets using firm-level data from 1991 to 2004. The results support the central hypothesis of this paper that adjustment costs are important in explaining firms’ adjustment toward their debt ratio targets. Our results show that deviations from targets are halved within 1.09 years in South America and 1.19 years in Southeast Asia, suggesting speed of adjustment is relatively faster in South American countries than Southeast Asian countries. Furthermore, our results show that after full liberalization those countries where rule of law and creditors rights were properly enforced, firms had higher adjustment speed compared to those countries where such enforcement was not present. The estimated adjustment coefficients imply that on average firms’ adjustment speeds have increased in all South American countries over the period of financial liberalization. On the contrary, firms’ adjustment speeds did not increase in Southeast Asian countries, reflecting the uneven effect of liberalization on the firms’ financing behaviour in Asian countries. There was a significant reduction in time (in years) taken to half the gap between actual debt ratios and targets only in Pakistan and South Korea. This finding supports the idea of uncertain impact of financial liberalization programs on the domestic financial markets in those emerging markets which started opening up their market and integrating with the rest of the world latter than others. These findings have significant implications for the sequence of banking sector liberalization in the emerging markets.
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