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Recovering risky technologies using the almost ideal demand system: an application to U.S. banking

  • Joseph P. Hughes
  • William W. Lang
  • Loretta J. Mester
  • Choon-Geol Moon

Using modern duality theory to recover technologies from data can be complicated by the risk characteristics of production. In many industries, risk influences cost and revenue and can create the potential for costly episodes of financial distress. When risk is an important consideration in production, the standard cost and profit functions may not adequately describe the firm's technology and choice of production plan. In general, standard models fail to account for risk and its endogeneity. The authors distinguish between exogenous risk, which varies over the firm's choice sets, and endogenous risk, which is chosen by the firm in conjunction with its production decision. They show that, when risk matters in production decisions, it is important to account for risk's endogeneity. ; For example, better risk diversification that results, for example, from an increase in scale, improves the reward to risk-taking and may under certain conditions induce the firm to take on more risk to increase the firm's value. A choice of higher risk at a larger scale could add to costs and mask scale economies that may result from better diversification. ; This paper introduces risk into the dual model of production by constructing a utility-maximizing model in which managers choose their most preferred production plan. The authors show that the utility function that ranks production plans is equivalent to a ranking of subjective probability distributions of profit that are conditional on the production plan. The most preferred production plan results from the firm's choice of an optimal profit distribution. The model is sufficiently general to incorporate risk aversion as well as risk neutrality. Hence, it can account for the case where the potential for costly financial distress makes trading profit for reduced risk a value-maximizing strategy. ; The authors implement the model using the Almost Ideal Demand System to derive utility-maximizing share equations for profit and inputs, given the output vector and given sources of risk to control for choices that would affect endogenous risk. The most preferred cost function is obtained from the profit share equation and we show that, if risk neutrality is imposed, this system is identical to the standard translog cost system except that it controls for sources of risk. ; The authors apply the model to the U.S. banking industry using 1989-90 data on banks with over $1 billion in assets. The authors find evidence that managers trade return for reduced risk, which is consistent with the significant regulatory and financial costs of bank distress. In addition, the authors find evidence of significant scale economies that help explain the recent wave of large bank mergers. Using these same data, the authors also estimate the standard cost function, which does not explicitly account for risk, and they obtain the usual results of esentially constant returns to scale, which contradicts the often-stated rationale for bank mergers.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 97-8.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:97-8
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  1. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Inside the black box: what explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Working Papers 97-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Joseph P. Hughes & Choon-Geol Moon, 1997. "Efficient Banking Under Interstate Branching," Departmental Working Papers 199609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  3. Gary Gorton & Richard Rosen, 1992. "Corporate control, portfolio choice, and the decline of banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 215, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Joseph P. Hughes & William Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1995. "Recovering Technologies that Account for Generalized Managerial Preferences: An Application to Non-Risk-Neutral Banks," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 95-16, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester & Moon Choo-Geol, 2000. "Are scale economies in banking elusive or illusive? evidence obtained by incorporating capital structure and risk-taking into models of bank production," Proceedings 700, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Hughes, Joseph P. & Lang, William W. & Mester, Loretta J. & Moon, Choon-Geol, 1999. "The dollars and sense of bank consolidation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2-4), pages 291-324, February.
  7. Joseph Hughes, 1999. "Incorporating risk into the analysis of production," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 27(1), pages 1-23, March.
  8. Rebecca S. Demsetz & Marc R. Saidenberg & Philip E. Strahan, 1996. "Banks with something to lose: the disciplinary role of franchise value," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 1-14.
  9. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Are Scale Economies in Banking Elusive or Illusive?," Departmental Working Papers 200004, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  10. Saunders, Anthony & Strock, Elizabeth & Travlos, Nickolaos G, 1990. " Ownership Structure, Deregulation, and Bank Risk Taking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 643-54, June.
  11. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
  12. Choon-Goel Moon & Joseph P. Hughes, 1997. "Measuring Bank Efficiency When Managers Trade Return for Reduced Risk," Departmental Working Papers 199520, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  13. Joseph P. Hughes & Choon-Geol Moon & Robert DeYoung, 2000. "Efficient Risk-Taking and Regulatory Covenant Enforcement in a Deregulated Banking Industry," Departmental Working Papers 200007, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Humphrey, David B & Pulley, Lawrence B, 1997. "Banks' Responses to Deregulation: Profits, Technology, and Efficiency," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
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