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Branch Banking, Bank Competition, and Financial Stability

  • Mark Carlson
  • Kris James Mitchener

It is often argued that branching stabilizes banking systems by facilitating diversification of bank portfolios; however, previous empirical research on the Great Depression offers mixed support for this view. Analyses using state-level data find that states allowing branch banking had lower failure rates, while those examining individual banks find that branch banks were more likely to fail. We argue that an alternative hypothesis can reconcile these seemingly disparate findings. Using data on national banks from the 1920s and 1930s, we show that branch banking increases competition and forces weak banks to exit the banking system. This consolidation strengthens the system as a whole without necessarily strengthening the branch banks themselves. Our empirical results suggest that the effects that branching had on competition were quantitatively more important than geographical diversification for bank stability in the 1920s and 1930s.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11291.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11291.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Publication status: published as Carlson, Mark and Kris James Mitchener. "Branch Banking, Bank Competition, and Financial Stability," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 2006, v38(5,Aug), 1293-1328.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11291
Note: DAE ME
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  1. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," NBER Working Papers 7582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Mark Carlson, 2001. "Are branch banks better survivors? Evidence from the Depression era," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-51, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2001. "Causes of U.S. bank distress during the depression," Proceedings 714, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521028387 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Donald Morgan & Bertrand Rime & Philip E. Strahan, 2004. "Bank Integration and State Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1555-1584, November.
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  20. Grossman, Richard S., 1994. "The Shoe That Didn't Drop: Explaining Banking Stability During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 654-682, September.
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  25. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 2000. "Obstacles to Optimal Policy: The Interplay of Politics and Economics in Shaping Bank Supervision and Regulation Reforms," CRSP working papers 512, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  26. Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph Scalise, 1995. "The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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  29. 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.
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