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Are scale economies in banking elusive or illusive?: Evidence obtained by incorporating capital structure and risk-taking into models of bank production

  • Hughes, Joseph P.
  • Mester, Loretta J.
  • Moon, Choon-Geol

This paper explores how to incorporate banks' capital structure and risk-taking into models of production. In doing so, the paper bridges the gulf between (1) the banking literature that studies moral hazard effects of bank regulation without considering the underlying microeconomics of production and (2) the literature that uses dual profit and cost functions to study the microeconomics of bank production without explicitly considering how banks' production decisions influence their riskiness. ; Various production models that differ in how they account for capital structure and in the objectives they impute to bank managers--cost minimization versus value maximization--are estimated using U.S. data on highest-level bank holding companies. Modeling the banks' objective as value maximization conveniently incorporates both market-priced risk and expected cash flow into managers' ranking and choice of production plans. ; Estimated scale economies are found to depend critically on how banks' capital structure and risk-taking is modeled. In particular, when equity capital, in addition to debt, is included in the production model and cost is computed from the value-maximizing expansion path rather than the cost-minimizing path, banks are found to have large scale economies that increase with size. Moreover, better diversification is associated with larger scale economies while increased risk-taking and inefficient risk-taking are associated with smaller scale economies.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Banking & Finance.

Volume (Year): 25 (2001)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Pages: 2169-2208

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:25:y:2001:i:12:p:2169-2208
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  1. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  2. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
  3. Douglas D. Evanoff, 1998. "Assessing the impact of regulation on bank cost efficiency," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 21-32.
  4. Joseph P. Hughes & William Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1998. "The Dollars and Sense of Bank Consolidation," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-04, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Deborah J. Lucas & Robert L. McDonald, 1992. "Bank Financing and Investment Decisions with Asymmetric Information about Loan Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(1), pages 86-105, Spring.
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  9. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester, 1995. "Recovering technologies that account for generalized managerial preferences: an application to non-risk neutral banks," Working Papers 95-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. Gorton, Gary & Rosen, Richard, 1995. " Corporate Control, Portfolio Choice, and the Decline of Banking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1377-1420, December.
  11. Hughes, Joseph P, et al, 1996. "Efficient Banking under Interstate Branching," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 1045-71, November.
  12. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
  13. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, . "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.
  14. Loretta J. Mester & Leonard I. Nakamura & Micheline Renault, 1998. "Checking accounts and bank monitoring," Working Papers 98-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  15. McAllister, Patrick H. & McManus, Douglas, 1993. "Resolving the scale efficiency puzzle in banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 389-405, April.
  16. Rebecca Demsetz & Marc R. Saidenberg & Philip E. Strahan, 1996. "Banks with something to lose: the disciplinary role of franchise value," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 1-14.
  17. Flannery, Mark J, 1994. "Debt Maturity and the Deadweight Cost of Leverage: Optimally Financing Banking Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 320-31, March.
  18. Grossman, Richard S, 1992. "Deposit Insurance, Regulation, and Moral Hazard in the Thrift Industry: Evidence from the 1930's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 800-821, September.
  19. Clark, Jeffrey A, 1996. "Economic Cost, Scale Efficiency, and Competitive Viability in Banking," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 342-64, August.
  20. Joseph P. Hughes, 1997. "Bank Capitalization and Cost: Evidence of Scale Economies in Risk Management and Signaling," Departmental Working Papers 199601, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  21. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Inside the black box: what explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Working Papers 97-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  22. English, M. & Grosskopf, S. & Hayes, K. & Yaisawarng, S., 1993. "Output allocative and technical efficiency of banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 349-366, April.
  23. Joseph Hughes, 1999. "Incorporating risk into the analysis of production," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 27(1), pages 1-23, March.
  24. Hughes, Joseph P., 1999. "Measuring efficiency when competitive prices aggregate differences in product quality and risk," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 47-76, March.
  25. Evanoff, Douglas D & Israilevich, Philip R & Merris, Randall C, 1990. "Relative Price Efficiency, Technical Change, and Scale Economies for Large Commercial Banks," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 281-98, September.
  26. Mester, Loretta J., 1991. "Agency costs among savings and loans," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 257-278, June.
  27. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
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