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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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    Length: 37
    Date of creation: 09 Jan 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbwp:110

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    Keywords: focus; diversification; monitoring; bank returns; bank risk;

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    References

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    1. Stiroh, Kevin J, 2004. "Diversification in Banking: Is Noninterest Income the Answer?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(5), pages 853-82, October.
    2. Allen Berger & Robert DeYoung, 2001. "The Effects of Geographic Expansion on Bank Efficiency," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 163-184, April.
    3. Raghuram Rajan & Henry Servaes & Luigi Zingales, . "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," CRSP working papers 463, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    4. Claudia M. Buch & John C. Driscoll & Charlotte Ostergaard, 2004. "Cross-Border Diversification in Bank Asset Portfolios," Working Paper 2004/11, Norges Bank.
    5. 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.
    6. Boyd, John H. & Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Financial intermediary-coalitions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 211-232, April.
    7. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Safety in numbers? Geographic diversification and bank insolvency risk," Proceedings 504, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    8. Shaffer, Sherrill, 1998. "The Winner's Curse in Banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 359-392, October.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. DeLong, Gayle L., 2001. "Stockholder gains from focusing versus diversifying bank mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 221-252, February.
    12. Viral V. Acharya & Iftekhar Hasan & Anthony Saunders, 2006. "Should Banks Be Diversified? Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1355-1412, May.
    13. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. 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.
    2. Dairo Estrada & Angela González Arbeláez & Javier Gutierréz Rueda, 2008. "The Effects of Diversification on Banks´ Expected Returns," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 004991, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    3. 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.
    4. García-Herrero, Alicia & Vázquez, Francisco, 2013. "International diversification gains and home bias in banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2560-2571.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 -.

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