한국개발연구. Vol. 13, No. 1, May 1991, pp. 35-63
Currently, Korea's banking industry holds a sizable amount of non-performing loans which stem from the government-led bailout of many troubled firms in the 1980s. Although this burden was somewhat relieved with the aid of banks' recapitalization in the booming securities market between 1986-88, the insolvent credits still resulted in low profitability in the banking sector and have been detrimental to the progress of financial liberalization and internationalization. This paper surveys the corporate bailout experiences of major advanced countries and Korea in the past and derives a rationale for readjustment measures against nonperforming loans, in which rescue plans depend on the nature of the financial system. Considering the features of Korea's financial system and the banking sector's recent performance, it discusses possible means of liquidation in keeping with the rationale. The conflict of interests among parties involved in non-performing loans is widely known as one of the major constraints in writing off the loans. Specifically, in the case of Korea, the government's excessive intervention in allocating credits has preempted the legitimate role of the banking sector, which now only passively manages its past loans, and has implicitly confused private with public risk. This paper argues that to minimize the incidence of insolvent loan readjustment, the government's role should be reduced and that the correspondent banks should be more active in the liquidation process, through the market mechanism, reflecting their access to detailed information on the troubled firms. One solution is that banks, after classifying the insolvent loans by the lateness or possibility of repayment, would swap the relatively sound loans for preferred stock and gradually write off the bad ones by expanding the banks' retained earnings and revaluing the banks' assets. Specifically, the debt-equity swap can benefit both creditors and debtors in the sense that it raises the liquidity and profitability of bank assets and strengthens the debtor's financial structure by easing the debt service burden. Such a creditor-led or market-led solution improves the financial strength and autonomy of the banking sector, thereby fostering more efficient resource allocation and risk sharing.