Finance and growth in China and India: Have firms benefited from capital-market expansion?
08 Aug 2014
Financial sectors in India and China are fast expanding. This column presents a new dataset on the capital-raising activity and performance of publicly listed firms in the two countries. It suggests that at least a part of the fast growth in India and China seems to come from firms that are able to raise funds from capital markets. However, benefits are restricted to the largest firms.
and China are hard to ignore. Over the past 20 years, they have risen as global
economic powers, at a very fast pace. By 2012, India has become the tenth-largest
world economy (based on nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) and China the second.
Together, they account for about 36% of world population.
financial systems have also developed rapidly and have become much deeper
according to several broad-based standard measures, although they still lag
behind in many respects. For example, stock-market capitalisation increased
from 22% and 4% of GDP in 1992 to 95% and 80% of GDP in 2010 in India and China
respectively. By 2010, 4,987 and 2,063 firms were listed in India’s and China’s
stock markets respectively. Their financial systems have not only expanded, but
also transitioned from a mostly bank-based model to one where capital markets
have gained importance. Equity and bond markets have expanded from an average
of 57% and 11% of the financial system in 1990-1994 to an average of 65% and 53%
in 2005-2010 in India and China respectively (Eichengreen and Luengnaruemitchai
2006, Neftci and Menager-Xu 2007, Chan et al. 2007, Shah et al. 2008, Patnaik
and Shah 2011).
how much has this overall expansion in capital markets implied a more
widespread use of those markets? Has it allowed different types of firms to
obtain financing, invest, and grow? Do the cases of India and China show that
the policies to promote capital-market development might be conducive to
growth? If so, how inclusive is this growth? Is it associated with some
convergence in firm size, with smaller firms benefitting the most? Or are India
and China cases of growth without finance, where companies grow using their own
New stylised facts
study these questions, we assemble a unique and comprehensive data set on
domestic and international capital-raising activity and performance of publicly
listed firms in China and India (Didier and Schmukler 2013). In particular, we
match transaction-level information on equity and bond issues with annual
firm-level balance sheet information. Our matched data cover 4,305 firms in
India and 2,458 firms in China between 2003 and 2011.
new dataset allows us to document important stylised facts:
- The expansion of financing to the private sector in India and China has
been much more subdued than the aggregate numbers of financial depth suggest. Although
capital-raising activity in equity and bond markets expanded substantially in
2005-2010, it remained small as a percentage of GDP.
- Importantly, this expansion was not associated with widespread use of
capital markets by firms. For example, the number of Indian firms using equity
markets to raise capital per year decreased from 528 to 152 between 1995-1999 and
2005-2010, out of about 5,000 listed firms.
- Not only have few firms made recurrent use of equity and bond markets,
even fewer firms have captured the bulk of the capital market financing. For
example, the top ten firms in China and India captured between 43 and 62% of
the amount raised in 2005–2010.
- Thus, capital markets have not been a significant source of financing
across firms. This contrasts with the perception in the literature that equity
markets in these countries, and particularly in India, are relatively
- Firms that use equity or bond markets are very different – and
behave differently – than those that do not do so. While non-issuing firms
in both India and China grew at about the same rate as the overall economy,
issuing firms grew twice as fast in 2004-2011. Also, firms that raise
capital through equity or bonds are typically larger than non-issuing firms
initially and become even larger after raising capital.
- Firms grow faster the year before and the year in which they raise
- The evidence on firm size and growth has important implications for the
firm-size distribution of listed firms – there is no convergence in firm size;
if anything, the distributions seem to diverge.
of the results
These results are relevant
to many discussions in economics:
- First, a large number of
studies argue that financial development is positively associated with overall
economic growth (Levine 2005, Beck et al. 2013). Most of this finance and
growth literature focuses on the size of the financial systems by analysing
aggregate measures. Our results suggest that, to the extent that capital-market
financing spurs growth, it does it through few firms and through an expansion
of their investments. These results also show the mechanics that connect
finance and the corporate sector.
- Second, India and China
have generated significant interest because they do not appear to fit the
predictions of the law, finance, and growth literature, according to which more
developed legal and financial systems spur growth (Allen et al. 2005, 2012; Yao
and Yueh 2009). China is the most cited counter-example to this literature
because it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and it is not
clear which sources of financing propel the fast growth of its private sector.
Our findings provide evidence on the positive association between the use of
capital markets and firm performance.
- Third, other work studies
Gibrat’s law, which states that firm size and growth are independent and that
the firm size distribution is stable over time. This view has been challenged
over time. Although the growth of large firms seems independent of their size,
including smaller firms in the analysis typically introduces a negative
relation between growth and firm size. Moreover, the distribution of young
firms is tilted to the right (most of the mass is on small firms) and the asymmetry
tends to diminish monotonically as firms age and become larger (Cabral and Mata
2003, Angelini and Generale 2008).
Our findings suggest that even among publicly listed firms, which
consist of the largest firms, there is some variation - firms that use capital
market financing are larger to begin with and grow faster than non-users. In
fact, our results indicate that there is no convergence in firm size. Moreover,
a misallocation of capital in India and China (Hsieh and Klenow 2009) might
have kept large, highly productive firms artificially small, which might
explain why they are the ones that grow the most when financing becomes
The findings suggest that
finance matters, but in more nuanced ways than previously thought. Even though
the financial markets in India and China are not yet fully developed, the firms
that are able to raise capital do seem to benefit from it, particularly in
their overall expansion. In other words, at least part of the high growth in
these countries seems to come from the firms that are able to raise new funds
from the markets.
Moreover, the findings
suggest that even large, publicly listed firms (that arguably have access to
formal markets) appear to be partly financially constrained. The results of
differentiated performance between users and non-users of capital market
financing suggest that firms that issue securities respond when they receive
external capital. That firms perform differently and expand when they raise
capital also suggests that they had investment opportunities to begin with that
they could not realise. While we show that capital-raising activity is related
to changes in firm dynamics, we do not analyse to what extent the effects are
driven by the supply side (the capital market side) or the demand side (the
firm side). Doing so requires further research.
In recent decades, many
emerging economies have undertaken large efforts to increase the scope and
depth of their capital markets and to liberalise their financial sectors as a
way to complete and increase the provision of financial services. But expanding
capital markets might tend to directly benefit the largest firms – those
able to reach some minimum threshold size for issuance. More widespread direct
and indirect effects are more difficult to elucidate.
For the broader set of
emerging economies, these findings suggest that even in fast-growing India and China
with plenty of growth opportunities, receiving large inflows of foreign
capital, and with thousands of firms listed in the stock market, only a few
firms have directly absorbed the capital market activity. This could suggest
that it might be difficult for a broad set of corporations from smaller and
slower-growing countries to benefit from capital-market development.
A version of this column has appeared on VoxEU.
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