The Financial Economics of Privatization

By William L. Megginson | Go to book overview

Notes

chapter 1

1. Interestingly, the United States did follow the global model of government ownership of the nation’s airports, though it has been slow to follow the subsequent global trend toward airport privatization. In fact, the United States is today a significant laggard in privatizing airports, largely because of the way they are financed with tax-exempt municipal bonds [see Enright and Ng (2001)].

2. The seven largest international oil companies were given the memorable title of “the Seven Sisters” during the 1960s by Enrico Mattei, the head of the Italian state oil company, ENI [Sampson (1975)]. It was never quite clear whether Mattei admired or resented the Sisters (probably both), but he became the very embodiment of the entrepreneurial SOE manager, pushing ENI into the global big leagues by striking oil purchase agreements with the new Libyan government of Muammar Kaddafi. Ironically, the modern foundation named in his honor, Fondazione ENI-Enrico Mattei (FEEM), is a leading proponent of privatization in Europe.

3. It is always tempting to look at a watershed historical event and perceive that both the event and the effects that flowed from it were foreordained. To grasp just how incorrect this is with respect to privatization, I would recommend that any scholar wishing to conduct research in this field take the same step that I did in order to see how privatization evolved as a policy. Go to an academic library and find the shelves where the older issues of the Economist are kept. Begin leafing through the magazines from the late 1950s or early 1960s, and read (or copy) those articles dealing with government policies regarding state-owned enterprises. Continue reading these articles, in chronological order, at least through the mid-1980s. This brings home just how revolutionary the early attempts at privatization really were perceived to be. The exercise also gave me tremendous respect for the moral courage of the early privatization pioneers.

4. Using a broader definition of privatization—one that encompassed reactively changing the policies of an immediate predecessor government—the Churchill government’s denationalization of the British steel industry during the early 1950s could well be labeled the first “privatization.” I thank David Parker for pointing this out to me.

5. Yarrow (1986), Vickers and Yarrow (1991), Menyah, Paudyal, and Inganyete (1995),

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