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The Evolution of Scale Economies in U.S. Banking

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Abstract

Continued consolidation of the U.S. banking industry and a general increase in the size of banks has prompted some policymakers to consider policies that discourage banks from getting larger, including explicit caps on bank size. However, limits on the size of banks could entail economic costs if they prevent banks from achieving economies of scale. This paper presents new estimates of returns to scale for U.S. banks based on nonparametric, local-linear estimation of bank cost, revenue and profit functions. We report estimates for both 2006 and 2015 to compare returns to scale some seven years after the financial crisis and five years after enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act with returns to scale before the crisis. We find that a high percentage of banks faced increasing returns to scale in cost in both years, including most of the 10 largest bank holding companies. And, while returns to scale in revenue and profit vary more across banks, we find evidence that the largest four banks operate under increasing returns to scale.

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  • David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 2015. "The Evolution of Scale Economies in U.S. Banking," Working Papers 2015-21, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2015-021
    DOI: 10.20955/wp.2015.021
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    1. Wheelock, David C. & Wilson, Paul W., 2001. "New evidence on returns to scale and product mix among U.S. commercial banks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 653-674, June.
    2. Racine, Jeff & Li, Qi, 2004. "Nonparametric estimation of regression functions with both categorical and continuous data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 99-130, March.
    3. Jianqing Fan & Theo Gasser & Irène Gijbels & Michael Brockmann & Joachim Engel, 1997. "Local Polynomial Regression: Optimal Kernels and Asymptotic Minimax Efficiency," Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Springer;The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, vol. 49(1), pages 79-99, March.
    4. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    5. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
    6. Miguel A. Delgado & Juan Mora, 1995. "On asymptotic inferences in non-parametric and semiparametric models with discrete and mixed regressors," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 19(3), pages 435-467, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Corbae, Dean & D’Erasmo, Pablo, 2020. "Rising bank concentration," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    2. Ogura, Yoshiaki, 2020. "Intensified lending competition and search-for-yield under prolonged monetary easing," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 56(C).
    3. Glass, Anthony J. & Kenjegalieva, Karligash & Weyman-Jones, Thomas, 2020. "The effect of monetary policy on bank competition using the Boone index," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 282(3), pages 1070-1087.
    4. Karadima, Maria & Louri, Helen, 2021. "Economic policy uncertainty and non-performing loans: The moderating role of bank concentration," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 38(C).
    5. Biswas, Swarnava (Sonny) & Koufopoulos, Kostas, 2020. "Bank competition and financing efficiency under asymmetric information," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    6. Shaffer, Sherrill & Spierdijk, Laura, 2020. "Measuring multi-product banks’ market power using the Lerner index," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
    7. Glass, Anthony J. & Kenjegaliev, Amangeldi & Kenjegalieva, Karligash, 2020. "Spatial scale and product mix economies in U.S. banking with simultaneous spillover regimes," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 284(2), pages 693-711.
    8. Isakin, Maksim & Serletis, Apostolos, 2019. "Banking technology in a Markov switching economy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 154-168.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    banks; returns to scale; scale economies; nonparametric; regression.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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