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Off-Balance Sheet Activities and Scope Economies in U.S. Banking

Jingfang Zhang and Emir Malikov

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Abstract: Propelled by the recent financial product innovations involving derivatives, securitization and mortgages, commercial banks are becoming more complex, branching out into many "nontraditional" banking operations beyond issuance of loans. This broadening of operational scope in a pursuit of revenue diversification may be beneficial if banks exhibit scope economies. The existing (two-decade-old) empirical evidence lends no support for such product-scope-driven cost economies in banking, but it is greatly outdated and, surprisingly, there has been little (if any) research on this subject despite the drastic transformations that the U.S. banking industry has undergone over the past two decades in the wake of technological advancements and regulatory changes. Commercial banks have significantly shifted towards nontraditional operations, making the portfolio of products offered by present-day banks very different from that two decades ago. In this paper, we provide new and more robust evidence about scope economies in U.S. commercial banking. We improve upon the prior literature not only by analyzing the most recent data and accounting for bank's nontraditional off-balance sheet operations, but also in multiple methodological ways. To test for scope economies, we estimate a flexible time-varying-coefficient panel-data quantile regression model which accommodates three-way heterogeneity across banks. Our results provide strong evidence in support of significantly positive scope economies across banks of virtually all sizes. Contrary to earlier studies, we find no empirical corroboration for scope diseconomies.

Date: 2023-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-acc, nep-ban and nep-com
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Journal Article: Off-balance sheet activities and scope economies in U.S. banking (2022) Downloads
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