Sidebar : the privatization wave
The literature on privatization
The privatization literature focuses on three related areas: productive efficiency, the government budget, and privatization techniques. Where competitive product and capital markets exist, privatization is likely to improve productive efficiency. Such improvement makes possible fiscal gains, which may also be derived from reductions in government largess. These conclusions are weakly supported by an empirical literature that is often plagued by ambiguous results. The techniques literature provides policy guidelines for achieving the maximum benefits from privatization under a variety of ...
Privatization of local public services: lessons for New England
As governments consider ways to provide public services more efficiently, privatization can seem like an attractive option. Yet the subject engenders sharp controversies. In New England, local governments generally have not engaged in as much privatization as those in other parts of the country. ; This article examines the evidence on the relative merits of privatizing public services and attempts to determine whether these costs and benefits actually appear to explain local government behavior throughout the United States. The limited scope of privatization by New England local governments ...
Fiscal pressures and the privatization of local services
The privatization movement appears to have lost some momentum in the United States over the 1990s. Although local governments continue to look for ways to deliver services more efficiently by using private contractors, the pace at which they are issuing contracts has slowed. In part, the trends may reflect political realities. Public employees naturally are concerned about losing their jobs, and they constitute a sizable share of the electorate. The limited role of outside contractors may also reflect economic pragmatism, especially in the face of greater scrutiny of past efforts to privatize ...
Political and economic consequences of alternative privatization strategies
The different approaches to large-scale privatization in Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic imply somewhat different patterns of corporate governance--that is, ownership, monitoring, and control of firms. Corporate governance affects economic incentives within the firm, and therefore economic performance of the firm. Similarly, patterns of ownership implied by the programs affect the distribution of gains from reform. Privatizing the large enterprises will importantly influence resource allocation, employment, and output. Consequently, the patterns of corporate governance embodied in the ...
Social security privatization: what it can and cannot accomplish
This paper assesses the effect of social security privatization on the government budget, economic efficiency, national savings, and the distribution of resources across generations. It is shown that the benefits of privatization most often touted by privatization advocates can be achieved by simply altering taxes and social security pensions and leaving the basic structure of social security unchanged. In the conclusion, two simple arguments are given for why privatization might be a good idea nonetheless.
It's High Time to Privatize: Panel Discussion
The effects of social security privatization on household saving: evidence from the Chilean experience
In recent years, a handful of countries have converted the financing of their social security systems from pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) to partial or full funding. Privatization is viewed as one way to insulate social security from the political and demographic pressures that currently threaten the financial stability of PAYGO systems. However, privatization would improve a nation's situation only if such a reform increases domestic saving. In this paper I use evidence from Chile, where social security was privatized in 1981, to assess the impact of such a reform on household saving rates. I find ...
Postal savings in Japan and mortgage markets in the U.S.
Financial system redesign has become high political drama in Japan. In August, 2005, Prime Minister Koizumi's plan to privatize Japan's huge postal savings and life insurance system (PSS) was defeated in the Lower House of the Diet. Koizumi then retaliated by dissolving the Lower House and calling a "snap" election for September 11, 2005 in hopes of getting members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) more supportive of his program into the legislature. This was essentially a showdown?an open confrontation between the "new" and the "old" LDP in an effort by Koizumi to reduce the ...