New Economics Papers
on Efficiency and Productivity
Issue of 2007‒09‒09
eleven papers chosen by

  1. Innovation and the Export-productivity Link By Cassiman, Bruno; Golovko, Elena
  2. The Cost Efficiency of Commercial Banks in Hong Kong By Jim Wong; Tom Fong; Eric Wong; Ka-fai Choi
  3. An efficiency perspective on the gains from mergers and asset purchases By Sugata Ray; Missaka Warusawitharana
  4. Determinants of the Performance of Banks in Hong Kong By Jim Wong; Tom Fong; Eric Wong; Ka-fai Choi
  5. Choice of ownership structure and firm performance: Evidence from Estonia By Jones, Derek C.; Kalmi, Panu; Mygind, Niels
  6. How Efficient Has Been China's Investment? Empirical Evidence from National and Provincial Data By Dong He; Wenlang Zhang; Jimmy Shek
  7. Does Migration Make Rural Households More Productive? Evidence from Mexico By J. Edward Taylor; Alejandro López-Feldman
  8. Banking consolidation and small businessfinance : empirical evidence for Germany By Marsch, Katharina; Schmieder, Christian; Forster-van Aerssen, Katrin
  9. Can Small Firms' Perceived Constraints Help Explain Survival Rates? By Seán Lyons
  10. Marginal costs for road maintenance and operation - a cost function approach By Haraldsson, Mattias
  11. Competition in Hong Kong's Banking Sector: A Panzar-Rosse Assessment By Jim Wong; Eric Wong; Tom Fong; Ka-fai Choi

  1. By: Cassiman, Bruno; Golovko, Elena
    Abstract: We explore the relationship between innovation activity, productivity, and exports using a panel of Spanish manufacturing firms for 1990-1998. Our results - based on non-parametric tests - suggest that firm innovation status is important in explaining the positive export-productivity association documented in prior research. For the sample of small innovating firms, we find no significant differences in productivity levels between exporters and non-exporters. Especially product innovation seems to explain the positive association between exports and productivity for this group of firms. For small non-innovating firms with low and medium productivity levels exporting firms continue to exhibit higher productivity than non-exporting firms.
    Keywords: exports; innovation; process innovation; product innovation; productivity
    JEL: D21 O31 O32
    Date: 2007–08
  2. By: Jim Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Tom Fong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Eric Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Ka-fai Choi (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
    Abstract: Given banks' special role in channelling funds from savers to investors, their cost efficiency has a significant effect on the supply of credit and, in turn, on the overall economic performance. In addition, inefficiency would affect banks' earnings, thus hampering their ability to withstand shocks. The issue of banks' cost efficiency is therefore of interest to policy makers. Using the stochastic frontier approach and a panel dataset of retail banks, this paper assesses the cost efficiency of the banking sector in Hong Kong. The average cost inefficiency during the period 1992-2005 is found to be about 15% to 29% of observed total costs, which is largely in line with the experience of US and European banks. Cost efficiency is found to be correlated with macroeconomic conditions, with a significant rise in cost inefficiency triggered by the Asian financial crisis and the outbreak of SARS during the period 1998-2003, partly due to the lack of perfect flexibility by banks to adjust their factor inputs (labour, funds and capital) in response to falling outputs. Additional resources spent on risk control, new business initiatives and strengthening customer relationships may also have contributed. Nevertheless, the cost efficiency has started to improve by 2004 Q1, along with the recovery of the economy. This suggests also that the adjustments and streamlining by the banks in recent years may have begun to bear fruit. Empirical results also indicate that cost efficiency is positively correlated with bank size, suggesting large banks are on average more efficient than smaller banks. Efficiency is also observed to be sensitive to banks' business mix, with banks which focus more on lending business exhibiting a higher level of efficiency compared to banks that focus relatively less on loans. In addition, banks suffering from larger loan loss provisions are found to be less efficient, probably due to higher operational costs relating to credit risk and loan loss management.
    Date: 2006–09
  3. By: Sugata Ray; Missaka Warusawitharana
    Abstract: A simple efficiency-based view states that acquisitions shift assets to more productive owners. This implies that expected returns from acquisitions increase with transaction value. We propose using the sensitivity of abnormal returns to scaled transaction value as a measure of efficiency gains. Using this method, we find that the average acquirer obtains an increase of 3% - 5% in the value of the acquired assets. However, efficiency gains vary sharply across acquirer and deal characteristics. We find statistical significance for interactions of relative value and variables known to affect acquirer normal returns. The inclusion of the interaction term sometimes drives away the significance of the variable of interest. These results suggest that improving productivity via capital reallocation plays an important role in understanding acquirer returns from acquisitions.
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Jim Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Tom Fong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Eric Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Ka-fai Choi (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
    Abstract: This paper develops a model to identify the major determinants of a bank's profit, and the general level of profitability of a banking market. It found that in Hong Kong's case, market structure, such as market concentration and market shares of banks, is not a major contributory factor. Cost efficiency of banks, which measures the ability of banks to optimise their input mix for producing outputs, is a major determinant of banks' profitability. Since larger banks are found to be in general more cost efficient than smaller banks in our previous study on banks' efficiency, larger banks can offer services at lower prices to compete with smaller banks, yet attaining a similar or even higher level of profits. Smaller banks may, therefore, be more vulnerable to intense competitions in the loan market than larger banks, particularly in cut-throat price wars.
    Keywords: Profitability, price, Hong Kong banking, bank efficiency, market structure
    JEL: G14 G21 G28 L11
    Date: 2007–04
  5. By: Jones, Derek C. (BOFIT); Kalmi, Panu (BOFIT); Mygind, Niels (BOFIT)
    Abstract: In this paper we use rich panel data for a representative sample of Estonian enterprises to analyse diverse issues related to the determinants of ownership structures and ownership changes after privatisation. A key focus is to determine whether ownership changes are related to economic efficiency. While employee owned firms are found to be much more prone than other firms to switch ownership categories, often “employee owned” firms remain “insider-owned” as ownership passes from current employees to managers and former employees. Logit analyses of the determinants of ownership structures and ownership changes provides mixed support for several hypotheses. As predicted: (i) wealth and resource constraints play a crucial role in the determination of ownership, with foreigners buying firms with the highest equity levels and insiders buying firms with the lowest equity valuations; (ii) risk aversion explains subsequent ownership changes, especially away from employee ownership; (iii) allocation of ownership depends on the pre-privatisation origin and location of the firm, and these factors also influence subsequent ownership changes. Finally we compare our findings with those achieved by using more conventional approaches to analyze efficiency that use very similar data. Reassuringly the evidence presented in this paper is consistent with the view that efficiency considerations drive ownership changes (while earlier analysis for Estonia and for many other transition economies has identified the impact of ownership on economic performance.) However, the findings in this paper also establish that there are important influences besides economic efficiency that affect enterprise ownership and ownership changes.
    Keywords: privatisation; ownership change; employee ownership; transition economies; Estonia
    JEL: G30 J50 P20 P30
    Date: 2007–09–05
  6. By: Dong He (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Wenlang Zhang (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Jimmy Shek (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
    Abstract: China's investment has been growing very strongly. The share of gross capital formation in GDP in China has also been higher than in other East Asian economies during their high growth period in the 1970s-80s. Many commentators have argued that such high rates of investment growth have been driven by irrational incentives and have been largely inefficient, will cause a build up of non-performing loans in the banking system, and will also lead to over-capacity and deflation. Others, however, have argued that China is still capital scarce, returns to capital are high, and therefore high rates of investment are both desirable and sustainable. This paper attempts to shed new light on the debate. We analyse both the allocative efficiency and the dynamic efficiency of China's spending on capital. The allocative efficiency measures the extent to which resources have been invested in places where potential rates of return on capital are high. The potential rates of return can be calculated as the marginal products of capital derived from an aggregate production function. The dynamic efficiency measures the extent to which the capital-output ratio exceeds the optimal level. The optimal level of the capital stock is determined by a rate of investment, at which level the Chinese residents at the present enjoy the highest level of consumption without sacrificing the level of consumption in the future. We first construct China's total capital stock at national and provincial levels, estimate the Cobb-Douglas and CES production functions, and compute the marginal products of capital. Assuming that the Chinese economy was operating on the production frontier, the marginal products of capital at the aggregate level have been relatively high in the past two decades, and have not shown clear signs of decline in recent years. We find that China's marginal product of capital compares favourably with those observed in the major industrialised economies and in the Asia region. We also find that the marginal products of capital have been higher in the coastal areas than in the less developed areas of western and central China, but the marginal products of infrastructure capital have been higher in the inland areas than in the coastal areas. These results are robust to different assumptions made in constructing the data of capital stock.
    Date: 2006–11
  7. By: J. Edward Taylor (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization); Alejandro López-Feldman (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization)
    Abstract: The migration of labor out of rural areas and the flow of remittances from migrants to rural households is an increasingly important feature of less developed countries. This paper explores ways in which migration influences incomes and productivity of land and human capital in rural households over time, using new household survey data from Mexico. Our findings suggest that a massive increase in migration to the United States increased per-capita incomes via remittances and also by raising land productivity in migrant-sending households. They do not support the pessimistic view that migration discourages production in migrant-sending economies, nor the view implicit in separable agricultural household models that migration and remittances influence household incomes but not production.
    Keywords: Migration, income, agricultural production, Mexico.
    JEL: O15 O13
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Marsch, Katharina; Schmieder, Christian; Forster-van Aerssen, Katrin
    Abstract: Since the early 1990s an unprecedented process of consolidation has taken place in the banking sector in most industrialised countries raising concern of policymakers that it may reduce access to credit for the small business sector. While most of the existing empirical studies have focused on the U.S., this paper is the first one empirically investigating the effects of banking consolidation in Germany. As small and medium sized German companies traditionally almost exclusively rely on bank credit and as they represent the vast majority of the corporate sector reduced credit availability for those companies could particularly endanger economic growth. Based on an exceptional panel dataset comprising merged data of the German credit register and balance sheet data of German firms and banks we find - contrary to public fear - that the ongoing banking consolidation in Germany does not have a significant negative impact on the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). We measure the financing opportunities of SMEs based on the bank debt/assets ratio and the logarithmized credit size and control both explicitly for bank mergers and for the increase in the average bank size in the course of the consolidation process. In addition, we observe that the concentration in the banking market is insignificant for SME financing and that there is no significant difference between commercial banks, savings banks and private banks.
    Keywords: Banking consolidation, bank mergers, SME financing
    JEL: G1 G2 G21
    Date: 2007
  9. By: Seán Lyons (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))
    Abstract: Survey evidence on small firms’ perceived constraints might provide useful information on the effects of institutional impediments, such as regulatory burdens, on post-entry performance. Using a new dataset that merges ENSR survey data on small firms’ major constraints with Eurostat small firm demography data, we find that some perceived constraints are associated with significant differences in survival rates for new small firms. However, the constraints variables seem only weakly related to survival, and some prominent constraints including administrative regulations and availability of finance are not significant. We suggest refinements in survey design that might improve the usefulness of such data for inter-country comparisons.
    Date: 2007–02
  10. By: Haraldsson, Mattias (VTI)
    Abstract: Using observational data covering the whole Swedish national road network for the period 1998-2002, this paper estimates a set of maintenance and operation cost functions. It is found that costs for all operation and maintenance measures increase with traffic intensity, with two exceptions; total operation and winter operation measures are fixed cost activities. All other operation and maintenance measures have short run elasticities in the range 0.25-0.60. The impact of an additional vehicle is generally manifested in extra maintenance and operation costs, not only while the vehicle is using the road, but later on as well. Point estimates of long run cost elasticities are higher than one in general.
    Keywords: Transport economics; marginal cost; road maintenance; road operation
    JEL: R40
    Date: 2007–09–03
  11. By: Jim Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Eric Wong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Tom Fong (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Ka-fai Choi (Research Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
    Abstract: A re-examination of the competitive conditions of the banking industry in Hong Kong, based on the Panzar-Rosse approach and using a panel dataset with longer time-series data, reconfirms previous findings in our RM 04/2004 that the degree of competition was fairly high during the period 1992-2002. The empirical analysis also suggests that competitive pressures have been maintained in subsequent years, notwithstanding significant changes in the operating environment. The estimation results showed that competitive pressures were higher among larger banks and lower among smaller banks. This may suggest that while larger banks compete with smaller banks keenly in local retail markets on products such as mortgages and credit cards, they may be subject to even stronger pressures from other competitors at the regional or international levels in the corporate banking market, wealth management and other off-balance sheet activities, where they are more heavily involved. While relaxation of regulations and advances in technology tend to increase competition in the banking system, the effect of consolidation may depend on the prevailing market settings. To the extent that bank consolidation in recent years may have hampered competition, regulatory liberalisation and technological progress appear to have largely offset the adverse effect. The emergence of a number of larger banks through mergers and acquisitions which should be more capable of competing with existing large banks may have also contributed. Nonetheless, with bank consolidation expected to continue, how market concentration may impact on competition in the years to come needs to be closely monitored.
    Date: 2006–10

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