Insolvency practitioners from 88 countries describe how debt enforcement will proceed against an identical hotel about to default on its debt. We use the data on time, cost, and the likely disposition of the assets (preservation as a going concern vs. piecemeal sale) to construct a measure of the efficiency of debt enforcement in each country. This measure is strongly correlated with per capita income and legal origin and predicts debt market development. Several characteristics of debt enforcement procedures, such as the structure of appeals and availability of floating charge finance, influence efficiency.
We present a new measure of legal protection of minority shareholders against expropriation by corporate insiders: the anti-self-dealing index. Assembled with the help of Lex Mundi law firms, the index is calculated for 72 countries based on legal rules prevailing in 2003, and focuses on private enforcement mechanisms, such as disclosure, approval, and litigation, that govern a specific self-dealing transaction. This theoretically grounded index predicts a variety of stock market outcomes, and generally works better than the previously introduced index of anti-director rights.
An efficient bankruptcy system should liquidate nonviable businesses and reorganize viable ones. The importance of this filtering process has long been recognized in the literature; the typical reason advanced for its failure has been biases (in codes or among judges). In this paper we show that bankruptcy costs can be another source of such filtering failure. We illustrate this with the Colombian reform of 1999. Using data from 1,924 firms filing for bankruptcy between 1996 and 2003, we find that the prereform reorganization proceedings were so inefficient that the bankruptcy system failed to separate economically viable firms from inefficient ones. In contrast, by streamlining the reorganization process, the reform contributed to the improvement of the selection of viable firms into reorganization. In this sense, the new law increased the efficiency of the bankruptcy system in Colombia.
Most bankruptcy procedures try to reorganize a financially-distressed firm's debts to a serviceable level through negotiations overseen by courts. Markets are an alternative to such negotiations. This paper develops a market-based approach that is appropriate if claimants are severely cash-constrained and there is merit in having existing owners-managers remain in control. This approach was developed in response to the 1997 Asian Crisis, where the sheer numbers of over-indebted firms, creditors with poor incentives, and inexperienced courts stymied negotiated resolution. The scheme, however, can be applied to other crisis settings that exhibit particular characteristics. One such setting could be the resolution of external sovereign debts, a situation where creditors obviously cannot take possession of a country. The scheme arranges creditors in a queue to be serviced in sequence from the firm's operating cash flows. Creditors bid for their position in this queue, and those accepting a greater proportionate reduction in the face value of their claims are placed ahead of the others. Any existing hierarchy of claims is honored by having claimants bid for their positions within the relevant segment of the queue. No one in the queue (including owners who are last) is paid anything until the (reduced) debts of the first in line are fully discharged using the firm's operating cash surpluses. The queue then moves up and the next claimant in line is serviced. The paper shows that...