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Measuring efficiency at U.S. banks: Accounting for heterogeneity is important

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  • Mester, Loretta J.

Abstract

Estimates of bank cost efficiency can be biased if bank heterogeneity is ignored. The author compares X-inefficiency measures derived from a model that constrains the cost frontier to be the same for all banks in the nation and a model that allows the cost functions and error terms to differ across Federal Reserve Districts. The author finds that the data reject the single cost function model; X-inefficiency measures based on the single cost function model are, on average, higher than those based on the separate cost functions model; the distributions of the one-sided error terms on which X-inefficiency measures are based are wider for the single cost function model than for the separate cost functions models; and the ranking of Districts by the level of X-inefficiency differs in the two models. The differences in efficiency across Districts reflect more than just differences in bank size, geographic size, or population of the Districts. These results suggest that it is important when studying X-inefficiency to account for differences across the markets in which banks are operating and, more generally, that since X-inefficiency is, by construction, a residual, it will be particularly sensitive to omissions in the basic model.
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Suggested Citation

  • Mester, Loretta J., 1997. "Measuring efficiency at U.S. banks: Accounting for heterogeneity is important," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 230-242, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:98:y:1997:i:2:p:230-242
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    1. Mester, Loretta J., 1996. "A study of bank efficiency taking into account risk-preferences," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 1025-1045, July.
    2. Mester, Loretta J., 1993. "Efficiency in the savings and loan industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 267-286, April.
    3. Mester, Loretta J., 1992. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: An information-theoretic approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 545-566, June.
    4. P. A. V. B. Swamy & Jalal D. Akhavein & Stephen B. Taubman, 1994. "A general method of deriving the efficiencies of banks from a profit function," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Efficient banking under interstate branching," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 1045-1075.
    6. Berger, Allen N. & DeYoung, Robert, 1997. "Problem loans and cost efficiency in commercial banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 849-870, June.
    7. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, "undated". "A Quality and Risk-Adjusted Cost Function for Banks: Evidence on the "Too-Big-To-Fail" Doctrine," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 25-92, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    8. Joseph P. Hughes & William Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1995. "Recovering Technologies that Account for Generalized Managerial Preferences: An Application to Non-Risk-Neutral Banks," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 95-16, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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    11. Hunter, William C & Timme, Stephen G & Yang, Won Keun, 1990. "An Examination of Cost Subadditivity and Multiproduct Production in Large U.S. Banks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(4), pages 504-525, November.
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    14. Sealey, Calvin W, Jr & Lindley, James T, 1977. "Inputs, Outputs, and a Theory of Production and Cost at Depository Financial Institutions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1251-1266, September.
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