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Who said large banks don’t experience scale economies? Evidence from a risk-return-driven cost function

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  • Hughes, Joseph P.
  • Mester, Loretta J.
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    Abstract

    The Great Recession focused attention on large financial institutions and systemic risk. We investigate whether large size provides any cost advantages to the economy and, if so, whether these cost advantages are due to technological scale economies or too-big-to-fail subsidies. Estimating scale economies is made more complex by risk-taking. Better diversification resulting from larger scale generates scale economies but also incentives to take more risk. When this additional risk-taking adds to cost, it can obscure the underlying scale economies and engender misleading econometric estimates of them. Using data pre- and post-crisis, we estimate scale economies using two production models. The standard model ignores endogenous risk-taking and finds little evidence of scale economies. The model accounting for managerial risk preferences and endogenous risk-taking finds large scale economies, which are not driven by too-big-to-fail considerations. We evaluate the costs and competitive implications of breaking up the largest banks into smaller banks.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Intermediation.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 559-585

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinin:v:22:y:2013:i:4:p:559-585

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622875

    Related research

    Keywords: Banking; Production; Risk; Scale economies; Too big to fail;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Loretta J. Mester, 1990. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: an information-theoretic approach," Working Papers 90-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    2. Feng, Guohua & Serletis, Apostolos, 2010. "Efficiency, technical change, and returns to scale in large US banks: Panel data evidence from an output distance function satisfying theoretical regularity," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 127-138, January.
    3. Joseph P. Hughes & Choon-Geol Moon, 1997. "Efficient Banking Under Interstate Branching," Departmental Working Papers 199609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    4. Braeutigam, Ronald R. & Daughety, Andrew F., 1983. "On the estimation of returns to scale using variable cost functions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-2), pages 25-31.
    5. Demsetz, Rebecca S & Strahan, Philip E, 1997. "Diversification, Size, and Risk at Bank Holding Companies," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 300-313, August.
    6. Joseph Hughes & William Lang & Loretta Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Recovering Risky Technologies Using the Almost Ideal Demand System: An Application to U.S. Banking," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 5-27, October.
    7. Allen Berger & Robert DeYoung & Mark Flannery & David Lee & Ozde Oztekin, 2008. "How do large banking organizations manage their capital ratio?," Research Working Paper RWP 08-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    8. Michel Habib & Alexander Ljungqvist, 2000. "Firm Value and Managerial Incentives: A Stochastic Frontier Approach," OFRC Working Papers Series 2000fe03, Oxford Financial Research Centre.
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    11. Oecd, 2010. "Labour markets and the crisis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 756, OECD Publishing.
    12. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Inside the Black Box: What Explains Differences in the Efficiencies of Financial Institutions?," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-04, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    13. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "The Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 201-261.
    14. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Are scale economies in banking elusive or illusive? Evidence obtained by incorporating capital structure and risk-taking into models of bank production," Working Papers 00-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    15. Elijah Brewer, III & Julapa Jagtiani, 2011. "How much did banks pay to become too-big-to-fail and to become systematically important?," Working Papers 11-37, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    16. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
    17. Keeley, Michael C, 1990. "Deposit Insurance, Risk, and Market Power in Banking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1183-1200, December.
    18. Jagannathan Ravi & Boyd John, 2009. "Avoiding the Next Crisis," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(7), pages 1-5, July.
    19. Tufano, Peter, 1996. " Who Manages Risk? An Empirical Examination of Risk Management Practices in the Gold Mining Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1097-1137, September.
    20. David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 2012. "Do Large Banks Have Lower Costs? New Estimates of Returns to Scale for U.S. Banks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(1), pages 171-199, 02.
    21. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "La crisis," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 12(22), pages 15-60, January-J.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hryckiewicz, Aneta, 2014. "Originators, traders, neutrals, and traditioners – various banking business models across the globe. Does the business model matter for financial stability?," MPRA Paper 55118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Pejman Abedifar & Philip Molyneux & Amine Tarazi, 2014. "Non-Interest Income Activities and Bank Lending," Working Papers hal-00947074, HAL.

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