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Measuring the efficiency of capital allocation in commercial banking

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  • Joseph P. Hughes
  • William W. Lang
  • Choon-Geol Moon
  • Michael S. Pagano

Abstract

Commercial banks leverage their equity capital with demandable debt that participates in the economy's payments system. The distinctive nature of this debt generates an unusual degree of liquidity risk that can, at times, threaten the payments system. To reduce this threat, insurance protects deposits; and to reduce the moral hazard problems of the debt contract and deposit insurance, bank regulation constrains risk-taking and defines standards of capital adequacy. The inherent liquidity risk of demandable debt as well as potential regulatory penalties for poor financial performance creates the potential for costly episodes of financial distress that affects banks' employment of capital. ; The existence of financial-distress costs implies that many banks are likely to take actions, such as holding additional capital, that increase bank safety at the expense of short-run returns. While such a strategy may reduce average returns in the short run, it may maximize the market value of the bank by protecting charter value and protecting against regulatory interventions. On the other hand, some banks whose charter values are low may have an incentive to follow a higher risk strategy, one that increases average return at the expense of greater risk of financial distress and regulatory intervention. ; This paper examines how banks' employment of capital in their production plans affects their "market value" efficiency. The authors develop a market-based measure of production efficiency and implement it on a sample of publicly traded bank holding companies. Our evidence indicates that banks' efficiency and, hence, the market value of their assets are influenced by the level and allocation of capital. However, even controlling for the effect of size, we find that the influence of equity capital differs markedly between banks with higher capital-to-assets ratios and those with lower ratios. For inefficient banks with higher capital-to-assets ratios, marginal increases in capitalization and asset quality boost their market-value efficiency. For inefficient banks with lower levels of capitalization, the signs of these effects are reversed. Controlling for asset size, it appears that less capitalized banks cannot afford to mimic the investment strategy of more capitalized banks, which may be using this greater capitalization to signal their safety to financial markets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 98-2.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:98-2

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Keywords: Bank capital;

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References

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  1. Joseph P. Hughes & Choon-Geol Moon, 1997. "Efficient Banking Under Interstate Branching," Departmental Working Papers 199609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  2. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "Diversification, Portfolio Analysis and the Uneasy Case for Conglomerate Mergers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 25(4), pages 795-802, September.
  3. Hayne E. Leland and David H. Pyle., 1976. "Informational Asymmetries, Financial Structure, and Financial Intermediation," Research Program in Finance Working Papers 41, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. 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.
  5. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
  6. Rebecca S. Demsetz & Marc R. Saidenberg & Philip E. Strahan, 1996. "Banks with something to lose: the disciplinary role of franchise value," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 1-14.
  7. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Inside the black box: what explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Bank capitalization and cost: evidence of scale economies in risk management and signaling," Working Papers 96-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. Berger, Allen N. & Humphrey, David B., 1997. "Efficiency of financial institutions: International survey and directions for future research," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 175-212, April.
  10. Flannery, Mark J., 1989. "Capital regulation and insured banks choice of individual loan default risks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 235-258, September.
  11. Deborah J. Lucas & Robert L. McDonald, 1992. "Bank Financing and Investment Decisions with Asymmetric Information about Loan Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(1), pages 86-105, Spring.
  12. Smith, Clifford W. & Stulz, René M., 1985. "The Determinants of Firms' Hedging Policies," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 391-405, December.
  13. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
  14. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  15. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester, 1998. "The dollars and sense of bank consolidation," Working Papers 98-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Greg Caldwell, 2005. "Subordinated Debt and Market Discipline in Canada," Working Papers 05-40, Bank of Canada.
  3. Flavio Bazzana, 2001. "I modelli interni per la valutazione del rischio di mercato secondo l'approccio del Value at Risk," Alea Tech Reports 011, Department of Computer and Management Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, revised 14 Jun 2008.

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