We study the nature of judicial bias in bankruptcy proceedings following the enactment of the 1998 bankruptcy law in Russia. The two main findings are as follows. First, regional political characteristics affected judicial decisions about the numbers and types of bankruptcy proceedings initiated after the law took effect. Controlling for indicators of firms' insolvency and the quality of the regional judiciary, re-organization procedures were significantly more frequent in regions with politically popular governors and governors who had hostile relations with the federal center. Poor judicial quality was also associated with higher incidence of re-organizations. Second, the quality of the regional judiciary affected performance of firms under the re-organization procedure: in regions with low quality judges, firms that were re-organized according to the 1998 law had significantly lower growth in sales, labor productivity, and product variety compared to firms not subject to bankruptcy proceedings. In contrast, in regions with high quality judges, firms in re-organization outperformed firms not in bankruptcy proceedings. This effect of judicial quality on the performance of re-organized firms was stronger when governors were politically popular. These findings are consistent with the view that politically strong governors subverted enforcement of the 1998 bankruptcy law.
Exchange rate fluctuations strongly affect the Russian economy, given its heavy dependence on foreign trade and investment. In the aftermath of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that broke out early 2014, the Russian ruble lost 50% of its value against the US dollar. The impact of the conflict on Russia may have been amplified by sanctions imposed by Western countries. However, as Russia is heavily dependent on natural resource exports, another factor behind the deterioration could be the sharp decline in oil prices starting in summer 2014. Using high-frequency data on nominal exchange and interest rates, oil prices, actual and unanticipated sanctions, we provide evidence on forces underlying the ruble exchange rate. The analysis is based on cointegrated VAR models, where fundamental long-run relationships are implicitly embedded. The results indicate that the bulk of the depreciation can be related to the decline of oil prices. In addition, unanticipated sanctions matter for the conditional volatility of the variables involved.
We study barriers to labor mobility using panel data on gross region-to-region migration flows in Russia in 1996-2010. Using both parametric and semiparametric methods and controlling for region-to-region pairwise fixed effects, we find a non-monotonic relationship between income and migration. In richer regions, higher incomes result in lower migration outflows. However, in the poorest regions, an increase in incomes results in higher emigration. This is consistent with the presence of geographical poverty traps: potential migrants want to leave the poor regions but cannot afford to move. We also show that economic growth and financial development have allowed most Russian regions to grow out of poverty traps bringing down interregional differentials of wages, incomes and unemployment rates.
Collective Management of Residential Housing in Russia: The Importance of Being Social Homeowners associations (HOAs) implement collective management in residential housing. We assess the performance of such associations in Russia by using the stochastic frontier technique. Cultural traits enabling tenants to make proper use of the HOA decision-making procedures are essential for resolving the collective action problem and ensure accountability of governing bodies and outside contractors. Such “technical civic competence” has a stronger impact on HOA performance than more conventional forms of social capital which rise in their significance when HOA governance breaks down and informal grassroots alternatives are mobilized instead. Massive and indiscriminate “supplyled” introduction of collective management in residential housing without matching cultural and institutional prerequisites could be counterproductive. Flexibility, freedom of choice, and market development are required to avert the failures of HOAs commonly observed in Russia.
This paper exploits differences in the proportion of Russian settlers in the North Caucasus in the nineteenth century to estimate the effect of colonization on long-term development. The identification strategy relies on the fact that the primary purpose of Russian colonization was to protect the country’s access to warm-water ports. Therefore, settlement varied depending on the proximity to the Black Sea coast. Instrumenting the share of settlers by the distance to the coast, I show the positive impact of settlement on literacy among the indigenous population with long-term effects on income, educational attainment and the quality of local governance. To insure the validity of the instrument, I conduct a placebo test that shows that distance to the coast does not predict literacy and income in the South Caucasus, where Russians had no strategic interest in protecting the coastline. The mechanisms of influence include administrative integration, school building policies and social structure.
The paper studies evidence from Russian firms to explore whether the decentralization of firms can be successful under weak institutions. The paper distinguishes between two strategies for decentralization of firms in an environment with weak institutions: decentralization of decisionmaking authority to professionals hired through open competition (real decentralization) and decentralization to people hired through connections (cautious decentralization). The paper argues that real decentralization has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of firms and therefore can have economic payoff for firms even under weak institutions. However, the higher the distortionary effect of corruption on fair market competition in an environment with weak institutions, the lower the firms’ returns to being economically efficient. Therefore, the lower the returns to real decentralization, and, hence, the firms’ willingness to really decentralize. The empirical analysis presented in the paper demonstrates that really decentralized Russian firms are, on average, more successful compared to other firms in a range of activities: they are more likely to invest, to bring to the market innovative products that are new to the Russian or global market, and to export. The gap between really decentralized and other firms in the probability of investment and introduction of new products to the market is very substantial under low or moderate levels of corruption. However, the gap shrinks as corruption grows and disappears under very high levels of corruption. Correspondingly, real decentralization is less popular in Russian regions with higher corruption.
This paper studies structural transformation and its implications for productivity growth in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) from the 1980s onwards. Based on a critical assessment of the reliability and consistency of various primary data sources, we bring together a new database that provides trends in value added and employment at a detailed 35-sector level. Structural decomposition analysis suggests that for China, India and Russia reallocation of labour across sectors is contributing to aggregate productivity growth, whereas in Brazil it is not. This confirms and strengthens the findings of McMillan and Rodrik [NBER working paper 17143, 2011]. However, this result is overturned when a distinction is made between formal and informal activities within sectors. Increasing formalization of the Brazilian economy since 2000 appears to be growth-enhancing, while in India the increase in informality after the reforms is growth-reducing.
One of the most important factors that determine individuals’ quality of life and wellbeing is their position in the labor market and the type of jobs that they hold. When workers are rationed out of the formal segment of the labor market against their will, i.e., the labor market is segmented, their quality of life is limited, and their wellbeing is reduced. When they can freely choose between a formal or informal employment relationship, i.e., the labor market is integrated, their wellbeing can reach high levels even in the presence of informal employment. We, therefore, test whether the Ukrainian labor market is segmented along the formal-informal divide, slicing the data by gender and age. The analysis that we perform consist in the analysis of short-term and medium-term transitions between five employment states, unemployment and inactivity. We also analyze wage gaps of mean hourly earnings and across the entire hourly earnings distribution, controlling for time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity. According to our results segmentation is present for dependent employees: for a large part of informal employees informal employment is used as a waiting stage to enter formal salaried employment and is not voluntarily chosen. As far as self-employment is concerned the evidence is mixed regarding segmentation in the Ukrainian labor market. This heterogeneity in outcomes implies that not all informal work is associated with a low quality of life and reduced wellbeing in post-transition economies.
This paper investigates the long-term impact of domestic and international acquisitions, initiated by Russian firms, on their operating performance. In general, acquisitions can be associated with synergy gains, internalization advantages, and higher market power. Acquisitions, however, may also give rise to agency problems as well as new integration and organizational costs, leading to an ambiguous overall impact on the performance of acquirers. Based on a sample of more than 600 acquirers we show that both domestic and international acquisitions tend to reduce the performance of acquirers compared to non-acquiring firms. Examining how different deal, firm and industry level characteristics moderate the value destroying effects of acquisitions, our results suggest that Russian acquirers suffer from the inability to leverage value due to low M&A experience and capability, especially when making international acquisitions.
The paper analyzes the incidence, the severity and the correlates of household poverty in Ukraine during transition using two comparable surveys from 1996 and 2004. We measure poverty using income and consumption and various poverty lines. Poverty estimates are higher than previously reported if controlling for transition-related labor market shocks. Poverty in both periods follows some of the correlates commonly identified in the literature, including greater poverty among households with children and with less education. We also identify specific features of poverty in the earlier phase of transition, including the relatively low importance of unemployment and the existence of poverty even among households with employment.
In a federal state with weak political institutions, constituent units might protect their enterprises from enforcement of federal taxes. The effectiveness of such protection depends on the ability of local politicians to extract rents from enterprises. They can do so when local monopolies can be effectively sustained and electoral competition is weak. To analyze effects of political decentralization in a country with powerful regional industries, we build a simple general-equilibrium model where local politicians' electoral positions are levels of competition in the regional market, heterogenous firms provide campaign finance and compete in the labor market, and voters care about their wages, but could be influenced by campaign spending.