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Who Said Large Banks Don't Experience Scale Economies? Evidence from a Risk-Return-Driven Cost Function

  • Joseph J. Hughes

    (Rutgers University)

  • Loretta Mester

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

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, we 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. We show that these economies are not driven by too-big-to-fail considerations. We evaluate the cost implications of breaking up the largest banks into banks of smaller size.

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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 201127.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 02 Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:201127
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Michel Habib & Alexander Ljungqvist, 2000. "Firm Value and Managerial Incentives: A Stochastic Frontier Approach," OFRC Working Papers Series 2000fe03, Oxford Financial Research Centre.
  5. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1998. "Bank Capitalization And Cost: Evidence Of Scale Economies In Risk Management And Signaling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 314-325, May.
  6. Oecd, 2010. "Labour markets and the crisis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 756, OECD Publishing.
  7. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 2008. "Efficiency in banking: theory, practice, and evidence," Working Papers 08-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  8. 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.
  9. Isil Erel & Taylor D. Nadauld & René M. Stulz, 2011. "Why Did U.S. Banks Invest in Highly-Rated Securitization Tranches?," NBER Working Papers 17269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Jagannathan Ravi & Boyd John, 2009. "Avoiding the Next Crisis," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(7), pages 1-5, July.
  12. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Choon-Geol Moon & Michael S. Pagano, 1998. "Measuring the efficiency of capital allocation in commercial banking," Working Papers 98-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "The Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 201-261.
  14. Hughes, Joseph P, et al, 1996. "Efficient Banking under Interstate Branching," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 1045-71, November.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Are scale economies in banking elusive or illusive? Evidence obtained by incorporating capital structure and risk-taking into models of bank production," Working Papers 00-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Guohua Feng & Apostolos Serletis, 2009. "Efficiency, Technical Change, and Returns to Scale in Large U.S. Banks: Panel Data Evidence from an Output Distance Function Satisfying Theoretical Regularity," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 5/09, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  22. Alan Greenspan, 2010. "La crisis," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 12(22), pages 15-60, January-J.
  23. Loretta J. Mester, 1990. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: an information-theoretic approach," Working Papers 90-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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