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Should Banks Be Diversified? Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios

Author

Listed:
  • Viral V. Acharya

    (London Business School and Centre for Economic Policy Research)

  • Iftekhar Hasan

    (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

  • Anthony Saunders

    (New York University)

Abstract

We study the effect of loan portfolio focus versus diversification on the return and the risk of 105 Italian banks over the period 1993–99 using data on bank-by-bank exposures to different industries and sectors. We find that diversification is not guaranteed to produce superior performance and/or greater safety for banks. For high-risk banks, diversification reduces bank return while producing riskier loans. For low-risk banks, diversification produces either an inefficient risk-return trade-off or only a marginal improvement. Our results are consistent with a deterioration in the effectiveness of bank monitoring at high risk-levels and upon lending expansion into newer or competitive industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Iftekhar Hasan & Anthony Saunders, 2006. "Should Banks Be Diversified? Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1355-1412, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jnlbus:v:79:y:2006:i:3:p:1355-1412
    DOI: 10.1086/500679
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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