Government ownership of banks can help solve credit market failures and stabilise the supply of credit over the business cycle. However, it can also end up serving political interests and lead to a misallocation of financial resources. This column provides new evidence that state-owned banks systematically engage in tactical redistribution of credit in line with the political incentives of those in power. Analysing the geographical distribution of all lending and economic activity in Turkey, it shows that the central government may use commercial lending by state-owned banks to support allies in local elections.
Çağatay Bircan, Orkun Saka