Summary: The widespread financial crisis in East Asia caused large economic shocks, which varied by degree across the region. That crisis provides a unique opportunity for investigating the factors that determine the use of bankruptcy processes in a number of economies. The authors study the use of bankruptcy in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan (China), and Thailand. These economies differ in their institutional frameworks for resolving financial distress, partly because of the different origins of their judicial systems. One difference is the strength of creditor rights, which the authors document. They expect that differences in legal enforcement and judicial efficiency should affect the resolution of financial distress. Using a sample of 4,569 publicly traded East Asian firms, they observe a total of 106 bankruptcies in 1997 and 1998. They find that: 1) The likelihood of filing for bankruptcy is lower for firms with ownership links to banks and families, controlling for firm and country characteristics. 2) Filings are more likely in countries with better judicial systems. 3) Filings are more likely where there are both strong creditor rights and a good judicial system. These results alone do not allow the authors to address whether increased use of bankruptcy is an efficient resolution mechanism.
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