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Evidence on the objectives of bank managers

  • Joseph P. Hughes
  • Loretta J. Mester

The paper attempts to present empirical evidence on the behavior of bank managers - are they risk neutral and act on behalf of shareholders to maximize profits or risk averse and trade-off profits for risk reduction? The paper examines the bank's choice of financial capital since increasing financial capital reduces the risk of insolvency. A multiproduct cost function which incorporates asset quality and the risk faced by uninsured bank depositors is derived from a model of utility maximization. The authors' interpretation of the model is that it explicitly models a kind of x-efficiency. Because a bank may desire to trade-off risk and return, it may not use the cost minimizing level of financial capital. The authors extend the model of Hughes and Mester (1993) to allow a bank's choice of financial capital level to reflect its preference for return versus risk. The model consists of the cost function, share equations, and demand for financial capital equation, which are estimated jointly. The authors find evidence that banks in all size categories are acting in a non-risk neutral manner. Estimates of scale and scope economies based on this model show economies of scale at banks in all size categories. The authors also find evidence of product-specific scope econo-mies, cost complementarity between some outputs, and cost non-complementarity between other outputs.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Proceedings with number 46.

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Length: 496-500
Date of creation: 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Conference on Bank Structure and Competition (1994 : 30th)
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhpr:46
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  1. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1991. "A quality and risk-adjusted cost function for banks: evidence on the " too-big-to-fail" doctrine," Working Papers 91-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Hunter, William C & Timme, Stephen G & Yang, Won Keun, 1990. "An Examination of Cost Subadditivity and Multiproduct Production in Large U.S. Banks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(4), pages 504-25, November.
  3. Mester, Loretta J., 1992. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: An information-theoretic approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 545-566, June.
  4. Paul J. Gertler & Donald M. Waldman, 1990. "Quality Adjusted Cost Functions," NBER Working Papers 3567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Timothy H. Hannan & Gerald A. Hanweck, 1986. "Bank insolvency risk and the market for large certificates of deposit," Working Papers in Banking, Finance and Microeconomics 86-1, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Mester, Loretta J., 1991. "Agency costs among savings and loans," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 257-278, June.
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