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What explains the dramatic changes in cost and profit performance of the U.S. banking industry?

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  • Allen N. Berger
  • Loretta J. Mester

Abstract

We investigate the sources of recent changes in the performance of U.S. banks using concepts and techniques borrowed from the cross-section efficiency literature. Our most striking result is that during 1991-1997, cost productivity worsened while profit productivity improved substantially, particularly for banks engaging in mergers. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that banks tried to maximize profits by raising revenues as well as reducing costs, and that banks provided additional services or higher service quality that raised costs but also raised revenues by more than the cost increases. The results suggest that methods that exclude revenues may be misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1999. "What explains the dramatic changes in cost and profit performance of the U.S. banking industry?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-13
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    20. Berger, Allen N. & DeYoung, Robert, 1997. "Problem loans and cost efficiency in commercial banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 849-870, June.
    21. David Humphrey, 1993. "Cost and technical change: Effects from bank deregulation," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 9-34, June.
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    24. McAllister, Patrick H. & McManus, Douglas, 1993. "Resolving the scale efficiency puzzle in banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 389-405, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Banks and banking; Banks and banking - Costs;

    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
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

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