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Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket? Diversification and Specialization in Lending

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  • Andrew Winton

Abstract

Should lenders diversify, as suggested by the financial intermediation literature, or specialize, as suggested by the corporate finance literature? I model a financial institution's ("bank's") choice between these two strategies in a setting where bank failure is costly and loan monitoring adds value. All else equal, diversification across loan sectors helps most when loans have moderate exposure to sector downturns ("downside") and the bank's monitoring incentives are weak; when loans have low downside, diversification has little benefit, and when loans have sufficiently high downside, diversification may actually increase the bank's chance of failure. Also, it is likely that the bank's monitoring effectiveness is lower in new sectors; in this case, diversification lowers average returns on monitored loans, is less likely to improve monitoring incentives, and is more likely to increase the bank's chance of failure. Diversified banks may sometimes need more equity capital than specialized banks, and increased competition can make diversification either more or less attractive. These results motivate actual institutions' behavior and performance in a number of cases. Key implications for regulators are that an institution's credit risk depends on its monitoring incentives as much as on its diversification, and that diversification per se is no guarantee of reduced risk of failure.

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  • Andrew Winton, 1999. "Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket? Diversification and Specialization in Lending," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 00-16, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:00-16
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    Cited by:

    1. Cerasi, Vittoria & Daltung, Sonja, 2001. "Diversification and Delegation in Firms," Working Paper Series 131, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    2. Fricke, Daniel & Roukny, Tarik, 2020. "Generalists and specialists in the credit market," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 112(C).
    3. Chen, Pei-Fen & Zeng, Jhih-Hong, 2014. "Asymmetric effects of households’ financial participation on banking diversification," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 18-29.
    4. José Liberti & Jason Sturgess & Andrew Sutherland, 2018. "Economics of Voluntary Information Sharing," Working Papers 869, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    5. Zamore, Stephen & Beisland, Leif Atle & Mersland, Roy, 2019. "Geographic diversification and credit risk in microfinance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    6. Claudia M. Buch & John C. Driscoll & Charlotte Ostergaard, 2010. "Cross‐Border Diversification in Bank Asset Portfolios," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 79-108, March.
    7. Fecht, Falko & Grüner, Hans Peter & Hartmann, Philipp, 2012. "Financial integration, specialization, and systemic risk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 150-161.
    8. Olivier Accominotti, 2019. "International banking and transmission of the 1931 financial crisis," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 72(1), pages 260-285, February.
    9. Tonzer, Lena, 2015. "Cross-border interbank networks, banking risk and contagion," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 19-32.
    10. Ricardo Bebczuk & Arturo Galindo, 2007. "Financial crisis and sectoral diversification of Argentine banks, 1999-2004," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 199-211.
    11. Sungho Choi & Bill B. Francis & Iftekhar Hasan, 2010. "Cross‐Border Bank M&As and Risk: Evidence from the Bond Market," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 615-645, June.
    12. Abdelkader Boudriga & Neila Boulila Taktak & Sana Jellouli, 2010. "Bank Specific, Business and Institutional Environment Determinants of Banks Nonperforming Loans: Evidence from MENA Countries," Working Papers 547, Economic Research Forum, revised 09 Jan 2010.
    13. Brealey, Richard A & Cooper, Ian A & Kaplanis, Evi, 2019. "The effect of mergers on US bank risk in the short run and in the long run," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    14. Carletti, Elena & Cerasi, Vittoria & Daltung, Sonja, 2007. "Multiple-bank lending: Diversification and free-riding in monitoring," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 425-451, July.
    15. Zamore, Stephen, 2018. "Should microfinance institutions diversify or focus? A global analysis," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 105-119.
    16. Jyh-Horng Lin & Pei-Chi Lii & Fu-Wei Huang & Shi Chen, 2019. "Cross-Border Lending, Government Capital Injection, and Bank Performance," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-20, April.
    17. Jyh-Horng Lin & Shi Chen & Fu-Wei Huang, 2018. "Bank Interest Margin, Multiple Shadow Banking Activities, and Capital Regulation," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-20, July.
    18. Martin Goetz & Luc Laeven & Ross Levine, 2014. "Does the Geographic Expansion of Bank Assets Reduce Risk?," NBER Working Papers 20758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Alina Mihaela Dima & Simona Vasilache, 2016. "Credit Risk modeling for Companies Default Prediction using Neural Networks," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(3), pages 127-143, September.
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    23. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200418 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Zentefis, Alexander K., 2020. "Bank net worth and frustrated monetary policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(3), pages 687-699.
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    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General

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