Risk and Regulation: The Efficiency of Italian Cooperative Banks
In this paper we analyse the determination of cost efficiency in a sample of Italian small banks located in different geographical areas and including two great institutional categories: cooperative banks (CB’s) and other banks. We highlight the effect of environmental factors (asset quality, local GDP per capita) on banks’ performance, and provide novel evidence in favour of the “bad luck” hypothesis suggested by Berger and De Young (Journal of Banking and Finance, 1997). Local GDP per capita strongly affects the territorial differentials for technical efficiency, especially for CB’s. This can be easily rationalised, as current regulations hamper CB’s vis-à-vis other banks in their capability to diversify territorially. Our estimates provide us with a tentative quantitative measure of the costs of missing diversification, ranging between 2 and 7 percentage points. Correspondingly, our evidence suggests that there is potentially strong endogeneity in some currently available bank performance indicators.
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