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Are Canadian Banks Efficient? A Canada--U.S. Comparison

  • Jason Allen
  • Walter Engert
  • Ying Liu

The authors compare the efficiency of Canada's largest banks with U.S. commercial banks over the past 20 years. Efficiency is measured in three ways. First, the authors study key performance ratios, and find that Canadian banks are as productive as U.S. banks. Second, they investigate whether there are economies of scale in the production functions of Canadian banks and broadly comparable U.S. bank-holding companies (BHCs). They find larger economies of scale for Canadian banks than for the U.S. BHCs, which suggests that Canadian banks are less efficient in terms of scale, and have more to gain in terms of efficiency benefits from becoming larger. Third, the authors measure cost-inefficiency in Canadian banks and in U.S. BHCs relative to the domestic efficient frontier in each country (the domestic best-practice institution). They find that Canadian banks are closer to the domestic efficient frontier than are the U.S. BHCs. Canadian banks have also moved closer to the domestic efficient frontier than have the U.S. BHCs over time. Finally, the authors examine the dispersion in cost-inefficiency found in Canadian banks and attribute some of the dispersion to differences in information and communication technology investment. Comparisons are made with the U.S. BHC experience.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 06-33.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:06-33
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  1. Veronika Dolar & Césaire Meh, 2002. "Financial Structure and Economic Growth: A Non-Technical Survey," Working Papers 02-24, Bank of Canada.
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  4. Danny Leung, 2004. "The Effect of Adjustment Costs and Organizational Change on Productivity in Canada: Evidence from Aggregate Data," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 9, pages 52-61, Fall.
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  7. Allen N. Berger, 2002. "The economic effects of technological progress: evidence from the banking industry," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Humphrey, David & Willesson, Magnus & Bergendahl, Goran & Lindblom, Ted, 2006. "Benefits from a changing payment technology in European banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1631-1652, June.
  9. Maddala, G S & Wu, Shaowen, 1999. " A Comparative Study of Unit Root Tests with Panel Data and a New Simple Test," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(0), pages 631-52, Special I.
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  13. Jason Allen & Ying Liu, 2005. "Efficiency and Economies of Scale of Large Canadian Banks," Working Papers 05-13, Bank of Canada.
  14. Fabio Panetta & Dario Focarelli, 2003. "Are Mergers Beneficial to Consumers? Evidence from the Italian Market for Bank Deposits," CEIS Research Paper 10, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
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  16. Rhoades, Stephen A., 1998. "The efficiency effects of bank mergers: An overview of case studies of nine mergers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 273-291, March.
  17. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 2002. "Explaining the dramatic changes in performance of U.S. banks: technological change, deregulation, and dynamic changes in competition," Working Papers 01-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  18. Mester, Loretta J., 1997. "Measuring efficiency at U.S. banks: Accounting for heterogeneity is important," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 230-242, April.
  19. Dario Focarelli & Fabio Panetta, 2003. "Are Mergers Beneficial to Consumers? Evidence from the Market for Bank Deposits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1152-1172, September.
  20. Joanna Stavins, 2000. "ATM fees: does bank size matter?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 13-24.
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