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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    Citations

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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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Accominotti, Olivier, 2016. "International Banking and Transmission of the 1931 Financial Crisis," CEPR Discussion Papers 11651, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Tonzer, Lena, 2015. "Cross-border interbank networks, banking risk and contagion," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 19-32.
    7. Thiago Christiano Silva & Michel Alexandre da Silva & Benjamin Miranda Tabak, 2016. "Modeling Financial Networks: a feedback approach," Working Papers Series 438, Central Bank of Brazil, Research Department.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Alex Stomper, 2006. "A Theory of Banks' Industry Expertise, Market Power, and Credit Risk," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(10), pages 1618-1633, October.
    13. Beck, Thorsten & De Jonghe, Olivier & Mulier, Klaas, 2017. "Bank sectoral concentration and (systemic) risk: Evidence from a worldwide sample of banks," CEPR Discussion Papers 12009, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    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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