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Competition in Banking: A Review of the Literature

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  • Carol Ann Northcott

Abstract

The author reviews the theoretical and empirical literature to examine the traditional perception that the following trade-off exists between economic efficiency and stability in the banking system: a competitive banking system is more efficient and therefore important to growth, but market power is necessary for stability in the banking system. That this trade-off exists is not clear. Market power can have positive implications for efficiency, and the potentially negative implications of competition on stability may be manageable through prudential regulation. Neither extreme (perfect competition nor monopoly) is likely ideal. Rather, it may be optimal to facilitate an environment that promotes competitive behaviour (contestability), thereby minimizing the potential costs of market power while realizing benefits from any residual that remains. It can be very difficult to assess the contestability of a banking market. Recent work suggests that the number of banks and the degree of concentration are not, in themselves, sufficient indicators of contestability. Other factors play a strong role, including regulatory policies that promote competition, a well-developed financial system, the effects of branch networks, and the effect and uptake of technological advancements.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Ann Northcott, 2004. "Competition in Banking: A Review of the Literature," Staff Working Papers 04-24, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:04-24
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial institutions; Financial services; Market structure and pricing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure

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