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What Explains the Dramatic Changes in Cost and Profit Performance of the U.S. Banking Industry?

  • Allen N. Berger
  • Loretta J. Mester

We investigate the sources of recent changes in the performance of U.S. banks using concepts and techniques borrowed from the cross-section efficiency literature. Our most striking result is that during 1991-1997, cost productivity worsened while profit productivity improved substantially, particularly for banks engaging in mergers. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that banks tried to maximize profits by raising revenues as well as reducing costs, and that banks provided additional services or higher service quality that raised costs but also raised revenues by more than the cost increases. The results suggest that methods that exclude revenues may be misleading.

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File URL: http://fic.wharton.upenn.edu/fic/papers/99/9910.pdf
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Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 99-10.

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Date of creation: Feb 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:99-10
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  1. Berger, Allen N. & Mester, Loretta J., 1997. "Inside the black box: What explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 895-947, July.
  2. Allen N. Berger & John H. Leusner & John J. Mingo, 1994. "The efficiency of bank branches," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Bank capitalization and cost: evidence of scale economies in risk management and signaling," Working Papers 96-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. David Humphrey, 1993. "Cost and technical change: Effects from bank deregulation," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 9-34, June.
  5. Loretta J. Mester & Leonard I. Nakamura & Micheline Renault, 2002. "Checking Accounts and Bank Monitoring," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-02, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Efficient banking under interstate branching," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 1045-1075.
  7. Jalal D. Akhavein & Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1996. "The Effects of Megamergers on Efficiency and Prices: Evidence from a Bank Profit Function," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-03, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Dennis Fixler & Kimberly Zieschang, 1999. "The productivity of the banking sector: integrating financial and production approaches to measuring financial service output," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 547-569, April.
  9. Berger, Allen N. & Humphrey, David B., 1997. "Efficiency of financial institutions: International survey and directions for future research," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 175-212, April.
  10. Allen N. Berger & Timothy H. Hannan, 1988. "The price-concentration relationship in banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1990. "The dominance of inefficiencies over scale and product mix economies in banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 107, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Allen N. Berger & J. David Cummins & Mary A. Weiss, 1995. "The coexistence of multiple distribution systems for financial services: the case of property-liability insurance," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Loretta J. Mester, 1990. "Traditional and nontraditional banking: an information-theoretic approach," Working Papers 90-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  14. Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph Scalise, 1995. "The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  15. Allen N. Berger & Timothy H. Hannan, 1987. "The price-concentration relationship in banking," Research Papers in Banking and Financial Economics 100, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Hughes, Joseph P. & Lang, William W. & Mester, Loretta J. & Moon, Choon-Geol, 1999. "The dollars and sense of bank consolidation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2-4), pages 291-324, February.
  17. Edwin R. Dean & Kent Kunze, 1992. "Productivity Measurement in Service Industries," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 73-107 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Allen, Linda & Saunders, Anthony & Udell, Gregory F., 1991. "The pricing of retail deposits: Concentration and information," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 335-361, December.
  19. Humphrey, David B & Pulley, Lawrence B, 1997. "Banks' Responses to Deregulation: Profits, Technology, and Efficiency," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  20. Joseph P. Hughes & William Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 2000. "Recovering Risky Technologies Using the Almost Ideal Demand System: An Application to U.S. Banking," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-47, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  21. Hannan, Timothy H., 1991. "Bank commercial loan markets and the role of market structure: evidence from surveys of commercial lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 133-149, February.
  22. Allen N. Berger & Robert DeYoung, 1995. "Problem Loans and Cost Efficiency in Commercial Banks," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-01, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  23. Michael F. Mohr, 1992. "Recent and Planned Improvements in the Measurement and Deflation of Services Outputs and Inputs in BEA's Gross Product Originating Estimates," NBER Chapters, in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 25-71 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Joseph P. Hughes & Loretta J. Mester, 1991. "A quality and risk-adjusted cost function for banks: evidence on the " too-big-to-fail" doctrine," Working Papers 91-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  25. Mitchell, Karlyn & Onvural, Nur M, 1996. "Economies of Scale and Scope at Large Commercial Banks: Evidence from the Fourier Flexible Functional Form," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 178-99, May.
  26. Allen N. Berger & Timothy H. Hannan, 1994. "The efficiency cost of market power in the banking industry: a test of the "quiet life" and related hypotheses," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  27. Rhoades, Stephen A., 1993. "Efficiency effects of horizontal (in-market) bank mergers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 411-422, April.
  28. McAllister, Patrick H. & McManus, Douglas, 1993. "Resolving the scale efficiency puzzle in banking," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 389-405, April.
  29. Rhoades, Stephen A., 1998. "The efficiency effects of bank mergers: An overview of case studies of nine mergers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 273-291, March.
  30. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1990. "Measurement and efficiency issues in commercial banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 151, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  31. Allen N. Berger & Timothy H. Hannan, 1993. "Using efficiency measures to distinguish among alternative explanations of the structure-performance relationship in banking," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-18, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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