Product mix and earnings volatility at commercial banks: evidence from a degree of leverage model
AbstractCommercial banks’ lending and deposit-taking business has declined in recent years. Deregulation and new technology have eroded banks’ comparative advantages and made it easier for nonbank competitors to enter these markets. In response, banks have shifted their sales mix toward noninterest income — by selling ‘nonbank’ fee-based financial services such as mutual funds; by charging explicit fees for services that used to be ‘bundled’ together with deposit or loan products; and by adopting securitized lending practices which generate loan origination and servicing fees and reduce the need for deposit financing by moving loans off the books. The conventional wisdom in the banking industry is that earnings from fee-based products are more stable than loan-based earnings, and that fee-based activities reduce bank risk via diversification. However, there are reasons to doubt this conventional wisdom a priori. Compared to fees from nontraditional banking products (e.g., mutual fund sales, data processing services, mortgage servicing), revenue from traditional relationship lending activities may be relatively stable, because switching costs and information costs reduce the likelihood that either the borrower or the lender will terminate the relationship. Furthermore, traditional lending business may employ relatively low amounts of operating and/or financial leverage, which will dampen the impact of fluctuations in loan-based revenue on bank earnings. We test this conventional wisdom using data from 472 U.S. commercial banks between 1988 and 1995, and a new ‘degree of total leverage’ framework which conceptually links a bank’s earnings volatility to fluctuations in its revenues, to the fixity of its expenses, and to its product mix. Unlike previous studies that compare earnings streams of unrelated financial firms, we observe various mixes of financial services produced and marketed jointly within commercial banks. Thus, the evidence that we present reflects the impact of production synergies (economies of scope) and marketing synergies (cross-selling) not captured in previous studies. To implement this framework, we modify standard degree of leverage estimation methods to conform with the characteristics of commercial banks. Our results do not support the conventional wisdom. As the average bank tilts its product mix toward fee-based activities and away from traditional lending activities, we find that the bank’s revenue volatility; its degree of total leverage, and the level of its earnings all increase. The first two results imply increased earnings volatility (because earnings volatility is the product of revenue volatility and the degree of total leverage) and the third result implies a possible risk premium. These results have implications for bank regulators, who must set capital requirements at levels that balance the volatility of bank earnings against the probability of bank insolvency. These results also suggest another explanation for the shift toward fee-intensive product mixes: a belief by bank managers that increased earnings volatility will enhance shareholder value (or at least will increase the value of the managers’ call options on their banks’ stock). Our results have no direct implications for the expanded bank powers debate we examine only currently permissible fee-based activities, and these activities may have demand and production characteristics different from insurance underwriting, investment banking, or real estate brokerage.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-99-6.
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: P.O. Box 834, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-0834
Web page: http://www.chicagofed.org/
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-1999-11-28 (All new papers)
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.:
- John H. Boyd & Stanley L. Graham, 1991. "Investigating the banking consolidation trend," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-15.
- John H. Boyd & Stanley L. Graham, 1986. "Risk, regulation, and bank holding company expansion into nonbanking," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 2-17.
- Larry D. Wall & Alan K. Reichert & Sunil Mohanty, 1993. "Deregulation and the opportunities for commercial bank diversification," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Sep, pages 1-25.
- Franklin R. Edwards & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1995.
"The Decline of Traditional Banking: Implications for Financial Stabilityand Regulatory Policy,"
NBER Working Papers
4993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Franklin R. Edwards & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1995. "The decline of traditional banking: implications for financial stability and regulatory policy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 27-45.
- Robert DeYoung, 1994. "Fee-based services and cost efficiency in commercial banks," Proceedings 47, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Rebecca S. Demsetz & Philip E. Strahan, 1995. "Diversification, size, and risk at bank holding companies," Research Paper 9506, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- Eisenbeis, Robert A & Harris, Robert S & Lakonishok, Josef, 1984. " Benefits of Bank Diversification: The Evidence from Shareholder Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 881-92, July.
- Gallo, John G. & Apilado, Vincent P. & Kolari, James W., 1996. "Commercial bank mutual fund activities: Implications for bank risk and profitability," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1775-1791, December.
- John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1995.
"Are Banks Dead? Or Are the Reports Greatly Exaggerated?,"
NBER Working Papers
5045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1994. "Are banks dead? Or are the reports greatly exaggerated?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-23.
- John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1994. "Are banks dead? or, are the reports greatly exaggerated?," Working Papers 531, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1994. "Are banks dead? or, are the reports greatly exaggerated?," Proceedings 25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- 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.
- Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph Scalise, 1995.
"The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been,"
Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers
96-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
- Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph M. Scalise, 1995. "The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trips It's Been," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 55-218.
- George G. Kaufman & Larry R. Mote, 1994. "Is banking a declining industry? A historical perspective," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue May, pages 2-21.
- Kwast, Myron L., 1989. "The impact of underwriting and dealing on bank returns and risks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 101-125, March.
- Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
- Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1992. "Measurement and Efficiency Issues in Commercial Banking," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 245-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Simon H. Kwan, 1998. "Securities activities by commercial banking firms' section 20 subsidiaries: risk, return, and diversification benefits," Proceedings 609, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- David B. Humphrey, 1990. "Why do estimates of bank scale economies differ?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sep, pages 38-50.
- Lord, Richard A, 1998. "Properties of Time-Series Estimates of Degree of Leverage Measures," The Financial Review, Eastern Finance Association, vol. 33(2), pages 69-83, May.
- Simon Kwan, 1998. "Securities activities by commercial banking firms' Section 20 subsidiaries: risk, return and diversification benefits," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
- Mandelker, Gershon N. & Rhee, S. Ghon, 1984. "The Impact of the Degrees of Operating and Financial Leverage on Systematic Risk of Common Stock," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(01), pages 45-57, March.
- Kenneth Spong, 1994.
"Banking regulation : its purpose, implementation, and effects,"
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, number 1994bria.
- Kenneth Spong, 2000. "Banking regulation : its purposes, implementation, and effects," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, number 2000bria.
- Rodney N. Johnson & David R. Meinster, 1974. "Bank Holding Companies: Diversification Opportunities in Nonbank Activities," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 316-323, October.
- Rosie Smith & Christos Staikouras & Geoffrey Wood, 2003. "Non-interest income and total income stability," Bank of England working papers 198, Bank of England.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bernie Flores).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.