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Who said large banks don't experience scale economies? Evidence from a risk-return-driven cost function

  • Joseph P. Hughes
  • Loretta J. Mester

Earlier studies found little evidence of scale economies at large banks; later studies using data from the 1990s uncovered such evidence, providing a rationale for very large banks seen worldwide. Using more recent data, the authors estimate scale economies using two production models. The standard risk-neutral model finds little evidence of scale economies. The model using more general risk preferences and endogenous risk-taking finds large scale economies. The authors show that these economies are not driven by too-big-to-fail considerations. They evaluate the cost implications of breaking up the largest banks into banks of smaller size.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 11-27.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:11-27
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  1. Berger, Allen N. & Mester, Loretta J., 1997. "Inside the black box: What explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 895-947, July.
  2. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Choon-Geol Moon & Michael S. Pagano, 1999. "Measuring the efficiency of capital allocation in commercial banking," Proceedings 626, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Hughes, Joseph P. & Mester, Loretta J. & Moon, Choon-Geol, 2001. "Are scale economies in banking elusive or illusive?: Evidence obtained by incorporating capital structure and risk-taking into models of bank production," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 2169-2208, December.
  4. Braeutigam, Ronald R. & Daughety, Andrew F., 1983. "On the estimation of returns to scale using variable cost functions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-2), pages 25-31.
  5. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Efficient banking under interstate branching," Working Papers 96-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Elijah Brewer, III & Julapa Jagtiani, 2011. "How much did banks pay to become too-big-to-fail and to become systematically important?," Working Papers 11-37, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  7. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Bank capitalization and cost: evidence of scale economies in risk management and signaling," Working Papers 96-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  8. Tufano, Peter, 1996. " Who Manages Risk? An Empirical Examination of Risk Management Practices in the Gold Mining Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1097-1137, September.
  9. 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.
  10. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester & William Lang & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Recovering Risky Technologies Using The Almost Ideal Demand System: An Application To U.S. Banking," Departmental Working Papers 200005, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  11. Habib, Michel Antoine & Ljungqvist, Alexander P., 2000. "Firm Value and Managerial Incentives: A Stochastic Frontier Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 2564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Feng, Guohua & Serletis, Apostolos, 2010. "Efficiency, technical change, and returns to scale in large US banks: Panel data evidence from an output distance function satisfying theoretical regularity," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 127-138, January.
  13. Keeley, Michael C, 1990. "Deposit Insurance, Risk, and Market Power in Banking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1183-1200, December.
  14. Erel, Isil & Nadauld, Taylor & Stulz, Rene M., 2011. "Why Did U.S. Banks Invest in Highly-Rated Securitization Tranches?," Working Paper Series 2011-16, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  15. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "The Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 201-261.
  16. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "La crisis," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 12(22), pages 15-60, January-J.
  17. Allen Berger & Robert DeYoung & Mark Flannery & David Lee & Özde Öztekin, 2008. "How Do Large Banking Organizations Manage Their Capital Ratios?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 123-149, December.
  18. Mester, Loretta J., 1992. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: An information-theoretic approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 545-566, June.
  19. Oecd, 2010. "Labour markets and the crisis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 756, OECD Publishing.
  20. David C. Wheelock & Paul W. Wilson, 2012. "Do Large Banks Have Lower Costs? New Estimates of Returns to Scale for U.S. Banks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(1), pages 171-199, 02.
  21. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  22. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 2008. "Efficiency in banking: theory, practice, and evidence," Working Papers 08-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  23. Jagannathan Ravi & Boyd John, 2009. "Avoiding the Next Crisis," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(7), pages 1-5, July.
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