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Branch Banking as a Device for Discipline: Competition and Bank Survivorship During the Great Depression

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  • Mark Carlson
  • Kris James Mitchener

Abstract

Because California was a pioneer in the development of intrastate branching, we use its experience during the 1920s and 1930s to assess the effects of the expansion of large-scale, branch-banking networks on competition and the stability of banking systems. Using a new database of individual bank balance sheets, income statements, and branch establishment, we examine the characteristics that made a bank a more likely target of a takeover by a large branching network, how incumbent unit banks responded to the entry of branch banks, and how branching networks affected the probability of survival of banks during the Great Depression. We find no evidence that branching networks expanded by acquiring "lemons"; rather those displaying characteristics of more profitable institutions were more likely targets for acquisition. We show that incumbent, unit banks responded to increased competition from branch banks by changing their operations in ways consistent with efforts to increase efficiency and profitability. Results from survivorship analysis suggest that unit banks competing with branch bank networks, especially with the Bank of America, were more likely to survive the Great Depression than unit banks that did not face competition from branching networks. Our statistical findings thus support the hypothesis that branch banking produces an externality in that it improves the stability of banking systems by increasing competition and forcing incumbent banks to become more efficient.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12938.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Publication status: published as Mitchener, Kris James and Mark Carlson. “Branch Banking as a Device for Discipline: Competition and Bank Survivorship during the Great Depression.” Journal of Political Economy (April 2009): 165-210.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12938

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  1. Mitchener, Kris James, 2005. "Bank Supervision, Regulation, and Instability During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 152-185, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Colvin, Christopher L. & de Jong, Abe & Fliers, Philip T., 2014. "Predicting the past: Understanding the causes of bank distress in the Netherlands in the 1920s," QUCEH Working Paper Series 14-04, Queen's University Centre for Economic History, Queen's University Belfast.
  2. Philipp Ager & Fabrizio Spargoli, 2013. "Bank Deregulation, Competition and Economic Growth: The US Free Banking Experience," Working Papers 0050, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  3. Philipp Ager & Fabrizio Spargoli, 2013. "Bank Deregulation, Competition and Economic Growth: The US Free Banking Experience," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-210/IV/DSF69, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. John Landon-Lane & Hugh Rockoff & Richard H. Steckel, 2009. "Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States," NBER Working Papers 15596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mark Carlson, 2008. "Alternatives for distressed banks and the panics of the Great Depression," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-07, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. repec:cge:warwcg:146 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Klein, Alexander & Otsuy, Keisuke, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 147, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  8. Kris J. Mitchener & Mari Ohnuki, 2008. "Institutions, Competition, and Capital Market Integration in Japan," NBER Working Papers 14090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alex Klein & Keisuke Otsu, 2013. "Efficiency, Distortions and Factor Utilization during the Interwar Period," Studies in Economics 1317, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  10. Martin Goetz, 2012. "Bank diversification, market structure and bank risk taking: theory and evidence from U.S. commercial banks," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU12-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  11. John Ashton & Andros Gregoriou, 2012. "The Influence of Banking Centralisation on Depositors: Regional Heterogeneities in the Transmission of Monetary Policy," Working Papers 12005, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
  12. Michael D. Bordo & John Landon-Lane, 2010. "The Lessons from the Banking Panics in the United States in the 1930s for the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008," NBER Working Papers 16365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Kris James Mitchener & Mari Ohnuki, 2008. "Institutions, Competition, and Capital Market Integration in Japan," IMES Discussion Paper Series 08-E-12, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.

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