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The Evolution of Scale Economies in U.S. Banking

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  • Wheelock, David C.

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

  • Wilson, Paul W.

    () (Clemson University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wheelock, David C. & Wilson, Paul W., 2015. "The Evolution of Scale Economies in U.S. Banking," Working Papers 2015-21, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 01 Feb 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2015-021
    DOI: 10.20955/wp.2015.021
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Apostolos Serletis & Maksim Isakin, "undated". "Banking Technology in a Markov Switching Economy," Working Papers 2018-18, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 15 Nov 2018.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    banks; returns to scale; scale economies; nonparametric; regression.;

    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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