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Are banks dead? Or are the reports greatly exaggerated?

  • John H. Boyd
  • Mark Gertler

This article reexamines the conventional wisdom that commercial banking is in severe decline. A careful reading of the evidence does not support it. True, on-balance sheet assets held by commercial banks have declined as a share of total intermediary assets. But this measure ignores the substantial growth in banks' off-balance sheet activities, in off-shore lending by foreign banks, and in the size of the financial intermediation sector. Adjusted for these considerations, the bank-assets measure shows no clear evidence of secular decline. Neither does an alternative measure, constructed using data from the national income accounts. At most, banking may have suffered a slight loss of market share lately. But this loss is a temporary response to a series of adverse shocks rather than the start of a permanent decline.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1994)
Issue (Month): Sum ()
Pages: 2-23

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1994:i:sum:p:2-23:n:v.18no.3
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  1. Dennis J. Fixler & Kimberly D. Zieschang, 1992. "User Costs, Shadow Prices, and the Real Output of Banks," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 219-243 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christina D. Romer & David Romer, 1993. "Credit channel or credit actions? an interpretation of the postwar transmission mechanism," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 71-149.
  3. Robert N. McCauley & Rama Seth, 1992. "Foreign bank credit to U.S. corporations: the implications of offshore loans," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Spr, pages 52-65.
  4. Frederick T. Furlong, 1991. "Can bank capital regulation work? research revisited," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Sum, pages 32-33.
  5. Ben S. Bernanke & Cara S. Lown, 1991. "The Credit Crunch," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 205-248.
  6. Joe Peek & Eric Rosengren, 1993. "The Capital Crunch: Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 243, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1990. "Measurement and efficiency issues in commercial banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 151, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Boyd, John H. & Runkle, David E., 1993. "Size and performance of banking firms : Testing the predictions of theory," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 47-67, February.
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