A blog on financial markets and their regulation
Importance of Financial Markets
September 6, 2011Posted by on
After the global financial crisis, many people started thinking that financial markets are evil. So it is nice to see several papers in quick succession arguing that financial markets are more important than banks.
Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Erik Feyen, and Ross Levine presented a paper at a World Bank conference in June entitled “Optimal Financial Structures and Development: The Evolving Importance of Banks and Markets”. They present strong empirical evidence to show that as countries grow richer and become more sophisticated, they need markets more than banks. The optimal financial structure becomes more market based at higher levels of income. Deviations from this optimal structure lead to slower growth.
This month, Julien Allard and Rodolphe Blavy published an IMF working paper entitled “Market Phoenixes and Banking Ducks: Are Recoveries Faster in Market-Based Economies?” in which they argue that “market-based economies experience significantly and durably stronger rebounds than the bank-based ones” They go on to state that “because the financial structure of economies matters, structural policies to deepen financial markets so that they can effectively complement banking sectors are useful. This suggests that policies that would stifle the development of financial markets after the crisis would be misguided.” Of course, Allard and Blavy also emphasize that policy makers must enhance the stability of financial markets as well as reduce rigidities in the real economy.
Closed related is a paper by Stephen Cecchetti, M S Mohanty and Fabrizio Zampolli presented at the Jackson Hole Symposium late last month entitled “The real effects of debt”. Cechetti et al argue that “At moderate levels, debt improves welfare and can enhance growth. But high levels can be damaging.” For example, when corporate debt goes beyond 90% of GDP, it becomes a drag on growth. This appears to me to suggest that deepening of equity markets is more important than the development of banks beyond a certain stage of development.