Branching Deregulation and Merger Optimality
The U.S. banking industry has been characterized by intense merger activity in the absence of economies of scale and scope. We claim that the loosening of geographic constraints on U.S. banks is responsible for this consolidation process, irrespective of value-maximizing motives. We demonstrate this by putting forward a theoretical model of banking competition and studying banks’ strategic responses to geographic deregulation. We show that even in the absence of economies of scale and scope, bank mergers represent an optimal response. Also, we show that the consolidation process is characterized by merger waves and that some equilibrium mergers are not profitable per se -they yield losses- but become profitable as the waves of mergers unfold.
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