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Understanding the Cyclical Nature of Financial Intermediation Costs

Matthew Jaremski and Ayse Sapci ()

Southern Economic Journal, 2017, vol. 84, issue 1, 181-201

Abstract: Intermediation costs (i.e., all noninterest bank expenses) are counter‐cyclical and their changes have significant effects at the country‐level; however, the literature is silent on what drives their cyclicality. Previous studies have examined costs using cross‐sectional or low frequency data and thus cannot capture dynamic macroeconomic effects across time. We fill this gap by examining U.S. intermediation costs using a quarterly, bank‐level dataset from 1993 through 2012. This data set allows for the separation of microeconomic and macroeconomic factors affecting the cyclicality of costs. The analysis shows that house prices are the main driving source of this counter‐cyclicality. Because housing is used as collateral, a price decline leads banks to increase their operating costs for monitoring, screening and litigation costs which cause a credit crunch in the economy.

Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:wly:soecon:v:84:y:2017:i:1:p:181-201