Bank privatization, finance, and growth Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper examines whether privatizing state-owned banks improves finance and economic growth. To do so, we exploit regional banking variations in Russia induced by the idiosyncratic creation of "specialized banks" in the last years of the Soviet Union (1988-91) that were subsequently privatized. Starting in 1999 private banks including surviving spetsbanks emerged as an important source of external finance for private firms and households. We document that the regional concentration of spetsbanks in the early years of the Russian federation is orthogonal to economic fundamentals that are related to growth after the emergence of bank finance. Results indicate that while privatized banking increased lending significantly, it did not increase economic growth. However, privatization did increase growth when banks retained fewer political connections and when regional property rights were better protected, highlighting the importance of both factors. © 2014.

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Berkowitz, D., Hoekstra, M., & Schoors, K.

citation count

  • 21

publication date

  • September 2014