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Are universal banks better underwriters? Evidence from the last days of the Glass-Steagall Act

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  • Focarelli, Dario
  • Marqués-Ibáñez, David
  • Pozzolo, Alberto Franco

Abstract

It has often been argued during the recent credit crisis that commercial banks’ involvement in investment banking activities might have had an impact on the intensity of their underwriting standards. We turn to evidence from the period prior to the complete revocation of the Glass-Steagall Act in the United States and analyze whether investment banks or – section 20 subsidiaries of – commercial banks underwrote riskier securities. We compare actual defaults of these deals for an extensive sample of about 4,000 corporate debt securities underwritten during the period of the de facto softening of the Act’s restrictions. Securities underwritten by commercial banks’ subsidiaries have a higher probability of default than those underwritten by investment houses. This evidence is stronger in the case of ex-ante riskier and more competitive issues, and during the first years of bank securities’ subsidiaries’ entry into the market. Based on our results, it is not possible to reject that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall led to looser credit screening by broad (universal) banking companies trying to gain market share and/or to the lower initial ability of these banks to correctly evaluate default risk. JEL Classification: G21, G24, N22

Suggested Citation

  • Focarelli, Dario & Marqués-Ibáñez, David & Pozzolo, Alberto Franco, 2011. "Are universal banks better underwriters? Evidence from the last days of the Glass-Steagall Act," Working Paper Series 1287, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111287
    Note: 328790
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Robert Marquez, 2006. "Lending Booms and Lending Standards," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(5), pages 2511-2546, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Gambacorta & Adrian van Rixtel, 2013. "Structural bank regulation initiatives: approaches and implications," BANCARIA, Bancaria Editrice, vol. 6, pages 14-27, June.
    2. Mohamed Azzim Gulamhussen & Carlos Pinheiro & Alberto Franco Pozzolo, 2010. "Do multinational banks create or destroy economic value?," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 36, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    3. Anna Chernobai & Ali K. Ozdagli & Jianlin Wang, 2016. "Business complexity and risk management: evidence from operational risk events in U. S. bank holding companies," Working Papers 16-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. Francis, Bill & Gupta, Aparna & Hasan, Iftekhar, 2015. "Impact of compensation structure and managerial incentives on bank risk taking," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 242(2), pages 651-676.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    default; Glass-Steagall Act; investment banking; securities underwriting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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