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New evidence on returns to scale and product mix among U.S. commercial banks

  • Wheelock, David C.
  • Wilson, Paul W.

Numerous studies have found that banks exhaust scale economies at low levels of output, but most are based on the estimation of parametric cost functions which misrepresent bank cost. Here we avoid specification error by using nonparametric kernal regression techniques. We modify measures of scale and product mix economies introduced by Berger et al. (1987) to accommodate the nonparametric estimation approach, and estimate robust confidence intervals to assess the statistical significance of returns to scale. We find that banks experience increasing returns to scale up to approximately $500 million of assets, and essentially constant returns thereafter. We also find that minimum efficient scale has increased since 1985.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 47 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 653-674

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:47:y:2001:i:3:p:653-674
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  2. 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.
  3. Kaparakis, Emmanuel I & Miller, Stephen M & Noulas, Athanasios G, 1994. "Short-Run Cost Inefficiency of Commercial Banks: A Flexible Stochastic Frontier Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 875-93, November.
  4. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1990. "The dominance of inefficiencies over scale and product mix economies in banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 107, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. John H. Boyd & Stanley L. Graham, 1991. "Investigating the banking consolidation trend," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-15.
  6. Jalal D. Akhavein & Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1996. "The Effects of Megamergers on Efficiency and Prices: Evidence from a Bank Profit Function," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-03, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Allen Berger & John Leusner & John Mingo, 1994. "The Efficiency of Bank Branches," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 94-27, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Allen N. Berger & Gerald A. Hanweck & David B. Humphrey, 1986. "Competitive viability in banking: scale, scope, and product mix economies," Research Papers in Banking and Financial Economics 82, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Barnett, William A. & Geweke, John & Wolfe, Michael, 1991. "Seminonparametric Bayesian estimation of the asymptotically ideal production model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 5-50.
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  11. 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.
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  13. Hunter, William C & Timme, Stephen G, 1995. "Core Deposits and Physical Capital: A Reexamination of Bank Scale Economies and Efficiency with Quasi-Fixed Inputs," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 165-85, February.
  14. Ferrier, Gary D. & Lovell, C. A. Knox, 1990. "Measuring cost efficiency in banking : Econometric and linear programming evidence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1-2), pages 229-245.
  15. Mitchell, Karlyn & Onvural, Nur M, 1996. "Economies of Scale and Scope at Large Commercial Banks: Evidence from the Fourier Flexible Functional Form," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 178-99, May.
  16. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1997. "Efficiency of Financial Institutions: International Survey and Directions for Future Research," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-05, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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