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What Do Financial Intermediaries Do?

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  • Franklin Allen
  • Anthony M. Santomero

Abstract

This paper presents evidence that the traditional banking business of accepting deposits and making loans has declined significantly in the US in recent years. There has been a switch from directly held assets to pension funds and mutual funds. However, banks have maintained their position relative to GDP by innovating and switching from their traditional business to fee-producing activities. A comparison of investor portfolios across countries shows that households in the US and UK bear considerably more risk from their investments than counterparts in Japan, France and Germany. It is argued that in these latter countries intermediaries can manage risk by holding liquid reserves and intertemporally smoothing. However, in the US and UK competition from financial markets prevents this and risk management must be accomplished using derivatives and other similar techniques. The decline in the traditional banking business and the financial innovation undertaken by banks in the US is interpreted as a response to the competition from markets and the decline of intertemporal smoothing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 99-30.

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Date of creation: Sep 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:99-30

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Keywords: Intermediation; Risk management; Delegated monitoring; Banks; Participation costs;

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  1. Allen, Franklin & Santomero, Anthony M., 1997. "The theory of financial intermediation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(11-12), pages 1461-1485, December.
  2. Petersen, Mitchell A & Rajan, Raghuram G, 1995. "The Effect of Credit Market Competition on Lending Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 407-43, May.
  3. Bertero, Elisabetta, 1994. "The Banking System, Financial Markets, and Capital Structure: Some New Evidence from France," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 68-78, Winter.
  4. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1994. "What Do We Know About Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," NBER Working Papers 4875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Duffie Darrell & Rahi Rohit, 1995. "Financial Market Innovation and Security Design: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-42, February.
  6. Mayer, Colin, 1988. "New issues in corporate finance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 1167-1183, June.
  7. John H. Boyd & Mark Gertler, 1994. "Are banks dead?," The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sep, pages 22-26.
  8. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1996. "Financial Markets, Intermediaries and Intertemporal Smoothing," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-33, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Colin Mayer, 1990. "Financial Systems, Corporate Finance, and Economic Development," NBER Chapters, in: Asymmetric Information, Corporate Finance, and Investment, pages 307-332 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Schmidt, Reinhard H. & Hackethal, Andreas & Tyrell, Marcel, 1999. "Disintermediation and the Role of Banks in Europe: An International Comparison," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 8(1-2), pages 36-67, January.
  11. Scholtens, Bert & van Wensveen, Dick, 2000. "A critique on the theory of financial intermediation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(8), pages 1243-1251, August.
  12. Paul Hoffman & Anthony M. Santomero, 1998. "Life Insurance Firms in the Retirement Market: Is the News All Bad?," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-04, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  13. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
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