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Does Diversification Improve the Performance of German Banks? Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios

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Author Info

  • Evelyn Hayden

    ()
    (Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Banking Analysis and Inspections Division)

  • Daniel Porath

    ()
    (Deutsche Bundesbank, Banking and Financial Supervision Department)

  • Natalja von Westernhagen

    ()
    (Deutsche Bundesbank, Banking and Financial Supervision Department)

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    Abstract

    Should banks be diversified or focused? Does diversification indeed lead to increased performance and therefore greater safety on the part of banks as traditional portfolio and banking theory would suggest? This paper investigates the link between banks’ profitability and their portfolio diversification across different industries, broader economic sectors and geographical regions. To explore this issue, we use a unique data set of the individual bank loan portfolios of 983 German banks for the period from 1996 to 2002. The overall evidence we provide shows that there are no large performance benefits associated with diversification since each type of diversification tends to reduce the banks’ returns. Additionally, we find that banks do not use diversification to operate at a constant level of risk-return efficiency, which implies that banks are not risk-return efficient. Moreover, we find that the impact of diversification strongly depends on the risk level. However, only for moderate risk levels and in the case of industrial diversification does diversification significantly improve the banks’ returns.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank) in its series Working Papers with number 110.

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    Date of creation: 09 Jan 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbwp:110

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    References

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    1. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2002. "Diversification in banking: is noninterest income the answer?," Staff Reports 154, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    2. DeLong, Gayle L., 2001. "Stockholder gains from focusing versus diversifying bank mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 221-252, February.
    3. Berger, Philip G & Ofek, Eli, 1996. " Bustup Takeovers of Value-Destroying Diversified Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1175-1200, September.
    4. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Safety in numbers? Geographic diversification and bank insolvency risk," Working Papers 96-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    5. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
    6. John H. Boyd & Edward C. Prescott, 1985. "Financial intermediary-coalitions," Staff Report 87, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    7. Claudia M. Buch & John C. Driscoll & Charlotte Ostergaard, 2004. "Cross-Border Diversification in Bank Asset Portfolios," Working Paper 2004/11, Norges Bank.
    8. Iftekhar Hasan & Anthony Saunders & Viral V. Acharya, 2002. "Should banks be diversified? Evidence from individual bank loan portfolios," BIS Working Papers 118, Bank for International Settlements.
    9. Sherril Shaffer, 1997. "The winner's curse in banking," Working Papers 97-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    10. Allen N. Berger & Robert DeYoung, 2000. "The effects of geographic expansion on bank efficiency," Working Paper Series WP-00-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    11. Denis, David J & Denis, Diane K & Sarin, Atulya, 1997. " Agency Problems, Equity Ownership, and Corporate Diversification," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 135-60, March.
    12. Raghuram Rajan & Henri Servaes & Luigi Zingales, 1998. "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," NBER Working Papers 6368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Alicia García-Herrero & Francisco F. Vázquez, 2007. "International Diversification Gains and Home Bias in Banking," IMF Working Papers 07/281, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Dairo Estrada & Angela González Arbelaéz & Javier Gutiérrez Rueda, . "The Effects of Diversification on Banks’ Expected Returns," Borradores de Economia 524, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Alejandra Anastasi & Ricardo Bebczuk & Pedro Elosegui & Máximo Sangiácomo, 2008. "Productive, Geographic and Debtor Diversification and Its Effect on the Quality of the Credit Portfolio in Argentina," BCRA Working Paper Series 200836, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department.
    4. Alejandra Anastasi & Ricardo Bebczuk & Pedro Elosegui & Máximo Sangiácomo, 2009. "Productive, Geographical and Clientele Diversification of Banks, and its Effect on the Loan Portfolio Performance in Argentina," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(56), pages 7-39, October -.
    5. Dickler, Robert A. & Schalast, Christoph, 2006. "Distressed debt in Germany: What's next? Possible innovative exit strategies," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 73, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    6. Goddard, John & McKillop, Donal & Wilson, John O.S., 2008. "The diversification and financial performance of US credit unions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1836-1849, September.
    7. Busch, Ramona & Kick, Thomas, 2009. "Income diversification in the German banking industry," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2009,09, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.

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