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The effects of focus and diversification on bank risk and return: evidence from individual bank loan portfolios

Author

Listed:
  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Iftekhar Hasan
  • Anthony Saunders

Abstract

We study empirically the effect of focus (specialization) vs. diversification on the return and the risk of banks using data from 105 Italian banks over the period 1993–1999. Specifically, we analyze the tradeoffs between (loan portfolio) focus and diversification using a unique data set that is able to identify individual bank loan exposures to different industries, to different sectors, and to different geographical regions. Our results are consistent with a theory that predicts a deterioration in bank monitoring quality at high levels of risk and a deterioration in bank monitoring quality upon lending expansion into newer or competitive industries. Our most important findings are that industrial loan diversification reduces bank return while endogenously producing riskier loans for all banks in our sample, this effect being most powerful for high risk banks, sectoral loan diversification produces an inefficient risk–return tradeoff only for high risk banks, and geographical diversification results in an improvement in the risk–return tradeoff for banks with low levels of risk. A robust result that emerges from our empirical findings is that diversification of bank assets is not guaranteed to produce superior performance and/or greater safety for banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Iftekhar Hasan & Anthony Saunders, 2002. "The effects of focus and diversification on bank risk and return: evidence from individual bank loan portfolios," Proceedings 905, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhpr:905
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stolz, Stéphanie & Wedow, Michael, 2005. "Banks' regulatory capital buffer and the business cycle: evidence for German savings and cooperative banks," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2005,07, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    2. Heid, Frank & Porath, Daniel & Stolz, Stéphanie, 2003. "Does capital regulation matter for bank behavior? Evidence for German savings banks," Kiel Working Papers 1192, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Stiroh, Kevin J. & Rumble, Adrienne, 2006. "The dark side of diversification: The case of US financial holding companies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 2131-2161, August.
    4. Claudia M. Buch & John C. Driscoll & Charlotte Ostergaard, 2010. "Cross-Border Diversification in Bank Asset Portfolios," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 79-108, March.
    5. Lepetit, Laetitia & Nys, Emmanuelle & Rous, Philippe & Tarazi, Amine, 2008. "The expansion of services in European banking: Implications for loan pricing and interest margins," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(11), pages 2325-2335, November.
    6. Marco Crocco & Fabiana Santos & Pedro Amaral, 2009. "The spatial structure of the financial development in Brazil," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG td361, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    7. Stiroh, Kevin J, 2004. "Diversification in Banking: Is Noninterest Income the Answer?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(5), pages 853-882, October.
    8. García-Herrero, Alicia & Vázquez, Francisco, 2013. "International diversification gains and home bias in banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2560-2571.
    9. Vincenzo Chiorazzo & Carlo Milani & Francesca Salvini, 2008. "Income Diversification and Bank Performance: Evidence from Italian Banks," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 33(3), pages 181-203, June.
    10. Sanderson Abel & Pierre Le Roux, 2016. "Determinants of Banking Sector Profitability in Zimbabwe," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 6(3), pages 845-854.
    11. Lepetit, Laetitia & Nys, Emmanuelle & Rous, Philippe & Tarazi, Amine, 2008. "Bank income structure and risk: An empirical analysis of European banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1452-1467, August.
    12. Kevin Stiroh, 2006. "New Evidence on the Determinants of Bank Risk," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 30(3), pages 237-263, December.
    13. Alicia Garcia Herrero & Daniel Navia Simon, 2004. "Determinants And Impact Of Financial Sector Fdi To Emerging," International Finance 0403001, EconWPA.
    14. Alicia Garcia-Herrero & Daniel Navia Simon, 2006. "Why Banks go to Emerging Countries and What is the Impact for the Home Economy? A Survey," Working Papers 0602, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    15. Rocco Ciciretti & Iftekhar Hasan & Cristiano Zazzara, 2009. "Do Internet Activities Add Value? Evidence from the Traditional Banks," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 35(1), pages 81-98, February.
    16. Li, Li & Zhang, Yu, 2013. "Are there diversification benefits of increasing noninterest income in the Chinese banking industry?," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 151-165.
    17. Christian Calmès & Raymond Théoret, 2009. "Off-Balance-Sheet Activities and the Shadow Banking System: An Application of the Hausman Test with Higher Moments Instruments," RePAd Working Paper Series UQO-DSA-wp042009, Département des sciences administratives, UQO.
    18. Marco Crocco & Fabiana Santos & Pedro Amaral, 2010. "The Spatial Structure of Financial Development in Brazil," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(2), pages 181-203.
    19. Jean Dermine, 2005. "Restructuration internationale et diversification, le cas du risque-crédit," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 78(1), pages 267-280.
    20. Calmès, Christian & Théoret, Raymond, 2010. "The impact of off-balance-sheet activities on banks returns: An application of the ARCH-M to Canadian data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1719-1728, July.
    21. Kevin Stiroh, 2004. "Do Community Banks Benefit from Diversification?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 25(2), pages 135-160, April.
    22. Christian Calmès & Raymond Théoret, 2009. "The Impact of Banking Deregulation on Canadian Banks Returns," RePAd Working Paper Series UQO-DSA-wp022009, Département des sciences administratives, UQO.
    23. Wu, Ji & Jeon, Bang Nam & Luca, Alina C., 2010. "Does Distance Affect the Performance of Foreign Banks? Evidence from Multinational Banking in Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 37083, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Feb 2012.
    24. Edirisuriya, Piyadasa & Gunasekarage, Abeyratna & Dempsey, Michael, 2015. "Bank diversification, performance and stock market response: Evidence from listed public banks in South Asian countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 69-85.
    25. Gianni De Nicolo & Mary G Zephirin & Philip F. Bartholomew & Jahanara Zaman, 2003. "Bank Consolidation, Internationalization, and Conglomeration; Trends and Implications for Financial Risk," IMF Working Papers 03/158, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bank capital ; Risk management;

    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
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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