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Branch banking, bank competition, and financial stability

  • Mark Carlson
  • Kris James Mitchener

It is often argued that branching stabilizes banking systems by facilitating diversification of bank portfolios; however, previous empirical research on the Great Depression offers mixed support for this view. Analyses using state-level data find that states allowing branch banking had lower failure rates, while those examining individual banks find that branch banks were more likely to fail. We argue that an alternative hypothesis can reconcile these seemingly disparate findings. Using data on national banks from the 1920s and 1930s, we show that branch banking increases competition and forces weak banks to exit the banking system. This consolidation strengthens the system as a whole without necessarily strengthening the branch banks themselves. Our empirical results suggest that the effects that branching had on competition were quantitatively more important than geographical diversification for bank stability in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-20.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-20
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  1. David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 2000. "Why do Banks Disappear? The Determinants of U.S. Bank Failures and Acquisitions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 127-138, February.
  2. Wheelock, David C & Wilson, Paul W, 1995. "Explaining Bank Failures: Deposit Insurance, Regulation, and Efficiency," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(4), pages 689-700, November.
  3. Morgan, Donald & Rime, Bertrand & Strahan, Philip E., 2004. "Bank Integration and State Business Cycles," SIFR Research Report Series 30, Institute for Financial Research.
  4. Graciela Kaminsky & Sergio Schmukler, 2003. "Short-Run Pain, Long-Run Gain: The Effects of Financial Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 9787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," NBER Working Papers 7582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Demsetz, Rebecca S & Strahan, Philip E, 1997. "Diversification, Size, and Risk at Bank Holding Companies," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 300-313, August.
  7. Randall S. Kroszner, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 158, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  8. Allen N. Berger & Timothy H. Hannan, 1994. "The efficiency cost of market power in the banking industry: a test of the "quiet life" and related hypotheses," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Berger, Allen N. & Demsetz, Rebecca S. & Strahan, Philip E., 1999. "The consolidation of the financial services industry: Causes, consequences, and implications for the future," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2-4), pages 135-194, February.
  10. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," CRSP working papers 512, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  11. Mark Carlson, 2004. "Are Branch Banks Better Survivors? Evidence from the Depression Era," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 111-126, January.
  12. Nicholas Economides & R. Glen Hubbard & Darius Palia, 1993. "The Political Economy of Branching Restrictions and Deposit Insurance: A Model of Monopolistic Competition Among Small and Large Banks," Working Papers 93-23, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  13. Kris James Mitchener, 2004. "Bank Supervision, Regulation, and Instability During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 10475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2001. "Causes of U.S. bank distress during the depression," Proceedings 714, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. Calomiris, Charles W., 1990. "Is Deposit Insurance Necessary? A Historical Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 283-295, June.
  16. Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph Scalise, 1995. "The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  17. Matutes, Carmen & Vives, Xavier, 1995. "Imperfect Competition, Risk Taking, and Regulation in Banking," CEPR Discussion Papers 1177, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Lauch, Louis H. & Murphy, Neil B., 1970. "A Test of the Impact of Branching on Deposit Variability," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(03), pages 323-327, September.
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  22. Claessens, Stijn & Demirguc-Kunt, Asl[iota] & Huizinga, Harry, 2001. "How does foreign entry affect domestic banking markets?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 891-911, May.
  23. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521028387 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 1998. "What Drives Deregulation? Economics and Politics of the Relaxation of Bank Branching Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 6637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Koskela, Erkki & Stenbacka, Rune, 2000. "Is there a tradeoff between bank competition and financial fragility?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 1853-1873, December.
  26. Grossman, Richard S., 1994. "The Shoe That Didn't Drop: Explaining Banking Stability During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 654-682, September.
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  28. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. repec:aei:rpbook:24315 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. DeYoung, Robert & Hasan, Iftekhar & Kirchhoff, Bruce, 1998. "The Impact of Out-of-State Entry on the Cost Efficiency of Local Commercial Banks," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 191-203, March.
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