Transparency has in recent years become a buzzword in the economic-political debate about prospects for economic growth in general and for Europe in particular. A number of events, trends, and developments for example the East-Asian financial crisis, a series of corporate governance scandals in the United States and in Europe, the introduction of the euro as a common currency in part of the European Union, a global trend toward politically independent central banks, growing attention to environmental issues, and attempts to reform the governance structures of supranational and multilateral organizations such as the EU and the UN have made transparency an issue of highest concern.
However, the long and winding road leading from improved transparency in Europe to increased economic growth in the region has never been mapped out in a coherent way. The reason is simply that the causal chain from transparency to growth needs to be discussed in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary way, incorporating different research areas and traditions from accounting to economics and political science.
This book attempts to bridge that gap in current literature. What is transparency? Are there different kinds of it? What does it do? How much of it do we need, and for what purpose? In this book, the purpose of transparency is assumed ultimately to be higher rates of economic growth, and so the analyses in the different chapters take an instrumental view of transparency, where the relevant question is whether increased transparency leads to more efficient resource allocation.
The chapters address transparency in different markets and at different levels: from corporate financial disclosure to lobbying; from the risk incentives facing banks to competition and environmental policies. The book raises important questions and delivers a wealth of insights which will be of great use to a wide spectrum of audiences, including researchers and students on the one hand and policy makers, bureaucrats, and finance and investment professionals on the other.