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Judicial Independence, Local Protectionism, and Economic Integration: Evidence from China

The authors show that judicial independence can reduce local protectionism and foster cross-regional economic integration. The authors exploit a judicial independence reform in China with staggered roll-out since 2014. The reform removed local governments’ control over local courts’ financial and personnel decisions, thereby substantially improving local courts’ independence. Combining novel data on the universes of civil lawsuits and business registration records, the authors show that local defendants’ rate of winning court cases against non-local plaintiffs declined by 7.0% after the reform. The effect is mainly driven by improvements in the quality of judicial decisions and is more salient for politically connected local defendants. Over time, the reduction in local protectionism encouraged smaller non-local firms to file lawsuits against larger local firms. Using the shareholding network extracted from business registration records, the authors find that the decline in local protectionism could attract 8.4% more inward investment flows into reformed localities. This has the potential to increase China’s GDP by 1.9% when the judicial independence reform is implemented nationwide.


16
Feb
2023
Thursday

Session Chair: Zhiguo HE
Fuji Bank and Heller Professor of Finance and Jeuck Faculty Fellow, Booth School of Business and Senior Fellow, ABFER

10:00 am
Judicial Independence, Local Protectionism, and Economic Integration: Evidence from China

Shaoda WANG, Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Co-authors:
Ernest LIU, Assistant Professor in Economics, Princeton University
Yi LU, CITIC Chair Professor, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University
Wenwei PENG, Ph.D. in Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
10:25 am
Discussion
Discussant:
Emanuele COLONNELLI, Associate Professor of Finance and MV Advisors Faculty Fellow, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
10:50 am
Q&A
11:10 am


Updated 25 Jan 2023

Speakers

  • Shaoda WANG

    Shaoda WANG

     

    Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

    Shaoda Wang is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He also serves as the Deputy Faculty Director at the Energy Policy Institute at UChicago, China center (EPIC-China). He is an applied economist with research interests in development economics, environmental economics, and political economy. His main research agenda aims at understanding the political economy of public policy, with a regional focus on China.

    He holds a BA from Peking University, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Harris, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Economics and Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago.

  • Emanuele COLONNELLI

    Emanuele COLONNELLI

     

    Associate Professor of Finance and MV Advisors Faculty Fellow, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

    Emanuele Colonnelli is an Associate Professor of Finance and MV Advisors Faculty Fellow at The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. Colonnelli’s research focuses on the intersection between finance and development, with a special interest in the interaction between governments, firms, entrepreneurs, and investors. He is the recipient of a number of grants and awards, such as the AQR Top Finance Graduate Award. He has research and work experience in several emerging economies, including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Vietnam and regularly conducts world-wide surveys and field experiments of firms and investors. His research has been published in various top academic journals, such as the American Economic Review, the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Finance, and the Journal of Financial Economics.

    Colonnelli holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford University, an MSc in Economics from Bocconi University, a BSc in Economics from the University of Siena, and he spent an academic year visiting Pembroke College, Oxford University.

  • Zhiguo HE

    Zhiguo HE

     

    Fuji Bank and Heller Professor of Finance and Jeuck Faculty Fellow, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago and Senior Fellow, ABFER

    Zhiguo He is interested in the implications of agency frictions and debt maturities in financial markets and macroeconomics with a special focus on contract theory and banking. His recent research focuses on the role of financial institutions in the 2007/08 global financial crisis. He teaches an elective MBA course, “Chinese Economy and Financial Markets,” and is conducting academic research on Chinese financial markets including the stock market, local government debt, shadow banking, and interbank markets together with recent regulation changes. Professor He has also been writing academic articles on new progress in the area of cryptocurrency and blockchains.

    His research has been published in leading academic journals including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Finance, the Review of Financial Studies, the Journal of Financial Economics, and Management Science. He has been an associate editor for the Review of Financial Studies and Management Science and currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Finance. He serves as the guest editor of the Review of Finance for the “Special Issue on China” in 2020-2021.

    Professor He received his bachelor and master degrees from the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University before receiving his PhD from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2008. He has been named a 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and has won numerous awards for his outstanding scholastic record, including the Lehman Brothers Fellowship for Research Excellence in Finance in 2007, the Swiss Finance Institute Outstanding Paper Award in 2012, the Smith-Breeden First Prize in 2012, and the Brattle Group First Prize in 2014. Before joining the Chicago Booth faculty in 2008, he worked as a stock analyst at the China International Capital Corporation in Beijing in 2001 and visited the Bendheim Center for Finance at Princeton University as a post-doctoral fellow.

    In Autumn 2015 Professor He was the Dean’s distinguished visiting scholar at Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, and in winter 2020 he is a visiting professor of finance at Yale University, School of Management. In January 2020, he testified at U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) Hearing on “China’s Quest for Capital: Motivations, Methods, and Implications.”

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Session Format

Each session lasts for 1 hour 10 minutes (25 minutes for the author, 25 minutes for the discussant and 20 minutes for participants' Q&A). Sessions will be recorded and posted on ABFER's web, except in cases where speakers or discussants request us not to.

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