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Are Larger Banks Valued More Highly?


  • Bernadette A. Minton
  • René M. Stulz
  • Alvaro G. Taboada


We investigate whether the value of large banks, defined as banks with assets in excess of the Dodd-Frank threshold for enhanced supervision, increases with the size of their assets using Tobin’s q and market-to-book as our valuation measures. Many argue that large banks receive subsidies from the regulatory safety net, so they should be worth more and their valuation should increase with size. Instead, using a variety of approaches, we find (1) no evidence that large banks are valued more highly, (2) strong cross-sectional evidence that the valuation of large banks falls with size, and (3) strong evidence of a within-bank negative relation between valuation and size for large banks from 1987 to 2006 but not when the post-Dodd-Frank period is included in the sample. The negative relation between bank value and bank size for large banks cannot be systematically explained by differences in ROA or ROE, equity volatility, tail risk, distress risk, and equity discount rates. However, we find that banks with more trading assets are worth less. A 1% increase in trading assets is associated with a Tobin’s q lower by 0.2% in regressions with year and bank fixed effects. This relation between bank value and trading assets helps explain the cross-sectional negative relation between large bank valuation and size. Our results hold when we use instrumental variables for bank size.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernadette A. Minton & René M. Stulz & Alvaro G. Taboada, 2017. "Are Larger Banks Valued More Highly?," NBER Working Papers 23212, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23212
    Note: CF

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc, 2012. "Bank valuation and accounting discretion during a financial crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 614-634.
    2. Hughes, Joseph P. & Mester, Loretta J., 2013. "Who said large banks don’t experience scale economies? Evidence from a risk-return-driven cost function," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 559-585.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert McKeown, 2017. "Where are the economies of scale in Canadian banking?," Working Papers 1380, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    2. Robert McKeown, 2017. "Costs, size and returns to scale among Canadian and U.S. commercial banks," Working Papers 1382, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    3. Eduardo Dávila & Ansgar Walther, 2017. "Does Size Matter? Bailouts with Large and Small Banks," NBER Working Papers 24132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Robert McKeown, 2017. "An Overview of the Canadian Banking System: 1996 to 2015," Working Papers 1379, Queen's University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

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