Several Eastern European countries have initiated mass privatization programs to transfer state-owned assets to the genera; population. We show that the decision to pursue mass privatization and even the specific design of the programs are largely dictated by politics. Nonetheless, politically feasible programs can also be made attractive from an economic standpoint in terms of maximizing value, fostering free and efficient markets, and promoting corporate governance. In general, the design of economic institutions is critically shaped by political factors, although satisfactory economic results can be achieved in spite of political constraints.
Suppose that a firm receives a cash windfall which does not change its investment opportunity set or, equivalently, its marginal Tobin’s Q. What will this firm do with the money? We provide empirical answers to this question using a sample of eleven firms with such windfalls in the form of a won or settled lawsuit. We examine a variety of decisions of the firm to shed light on alternative theories of corporate financing and investment. Our evidence is broadly inconsistent with the perfect capital markets model. The results need to be stretched considerably to fit the asymmetric information model in which managers act in the interest of shareholders. The evidence supports the agency model of managerial behavior, in which managers try to ensure the long-run survival and independence of the firms with themselves at the helm.