Regional versus global integration of euro-zone retail banking markets: Understanding the recent evidence from price-based integration measures
This study investigates the current state of euro zone banking market integration by applying convergence and cointegration measures to mortgage and short-term corporate loan markets. These two measures of integration often lead to contradicting conclusions and are therefore comparatively analyzed. As an innovation to the literature, convergence measures are exposed to a difference-in-differences methodology which allows separating euro zone-specific from global integration effects. Our results show that euro zone-specific convergence exists mainly in the pre-EMU period whereas cointegration is especially prominent before 1993 and after 1998 but hardly present in between. Overall, we conclude that (1) in the presence of exchange rate uncertainty, cross-country convergence should focus on margins rather than rates, (2) convergence of retail banking interest rates is largely a result of integrating money and bonds markets in anticipation of the single currency and (3) a monetary union can produce (co)integration when retail rates react similarly to a single monetary policy rate. Thus, for the euro zone it appears that convergence measures provide the most information for the period leading up to the EMU whereas cointegration is more useful during the EMU period as well as prior to the ERM crisis in 1992.
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