Big Banks and Macroeconomic Outcomes: Theory and Cross-Country Evidence of Granularity
NBER Working Paper No. 19093,
Does the mere presence of big banks affect macroeconomic outcomes? In this paper, we develop a theory of granularity (Gabaix, 2011) for the banking sector, introducing Bertrand competition and heterogeneous banks charging variable markups. Using this framework, we show conditions under which idiosyncratic shocks to bank lending can generate aggregate fluctuations in the credit supply when the banking sector is highly concentrated. We empirically assess the relevance of these granular effects in banking using a linked micro-macro dataset of more than 80 countries for the years 1995-2009. The banking sector for many countries is indeed granular, as the right tail of the bank size distribution follows a power law. We then demonstrate granular effects in the banking sector on macroeconomic outcomes. The presence of big banks measured by high market concentration is associated with a positive and significant relationship between bank-level credit growth and aggregate growth of credit or gross domestic product.
Do Government Owned Banks Trade Market Power for Slack?
The ‘Quiet Life Hypothesis (QLH)’ posits that banks with market power have less incentives to maximize revenues and minimize cost. Especially government owned banks with a public mandate precluding profit maximization might succumb to a quiet life. We use a unified approach that simultaneously measures market power and efficiency to test the quiet life hypothesis of German savings banks. We find that average local market power declined between 1996 and 2006. Cost and profit efficiency remained constant. Nonparametric correlations are consistent with a quiet life regarding cost efficiency but not regarding profit efficiency. The quiet life on the cost side is negatively correlated with bank size, quality of loan portfolio and local per capita income. The last result indicates that the quiet cost life is therefore potentially due to benevolent excess consumption of local input factors by public savings banks.
Mergers, Spinoffs, and Employee Incentives
Review of Financial Studies,
This article studies mergers between competing firms and shows that while such mergers reduce the level of product market competition, they may have an adverse effect on employee incentives to innovate. In industries where value creation depends on innovation and development of new products, mergers are likely to be inefficient even though they increase the market power of the post-merger firm. In such industries, a stand-alone structure where independent firms compete both in the product market and in the market for employee human capital leads to a greater profitability. Furthermore, our analysis shows that multidivisional firms can improve employee incentives and increase firm value by reducing firm size through a spinoff transaction, although doing so eliminates the economies of scale advantage of being a larger firm and the benefits of operating an internal capital market within the firm. Finally, our article suggests that established firms can benefit from creating their own competition in the product and labor markets by accommodating new firm entry, and the desire to do so is greater at the intermediate stages of industry/product development.
Economic Effects of Investment Grants for Water and Sewerage Infrastructure – The Case of Saxony
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
The article deals with the regional economic growth effects of the German “Joint Scheme” for the improvement of regional economic structures (“GA-Infra”). It focuses on water and sewerage projects located in the federal state of Saxony (Germany) during the funding period 2000-2007. Evaluating these projects is important for scientific as well as for economic policy reasons.
First of all, according to general economic theory, the potential direct and indirect supply-side effects of the water and sewerage infrastructure as well as the price effects caused by this infrastructure are relevant for location decisions only to certain branches of the manufacturing industry.
Subsidies for the development of the sewerage infrastructure have been granted mostly according to the growth target of regional policy, i.e. primarily to municipalities with above-average volumes of industry sewage. This finding could not be confirmed for water provision.
A regression analysis (estimating the labour demand of the local manufacturing industry) showed no empirical evidence for any relationship between the changes in labour demand and the amount of GA-Infra funded water and sewerage infrastructure investments. This might be a consequence of the already satisfactory development condition of the infrastructure in question at the beginning of the funding period (“ubiquitous infrastructure”).
According to a survey of local governments conducted by the IWH, these results might be explained by the fact that business customers did not benefit from price reductions despite the GA-Infra funding granted to their local water and sewage disposal providers. Even though there might be some intuitively plausible reasons (decreasing population, no connection fees) for these findings, no effect on firm location decisions can be expected under these circumstances.
All in all, we do not consider the further extension of these funding priorities to be necessary. Especially, the GA-Infra water/sewerage grants should neither be used to mitigate the cost effects of demographic changes or regulation nor to compensate for losses caused by the buyer power of large firms.
Concerning the development of the debt level of the New Länder since the German unification
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
20 Jahre Deutsche Einheit - Teil 2 -
During the 1990s, public indebtedness rose remarkably in all German political subdivisions. This development was particularly strong in the New Länder. At the beginning of the 1990s, they had low indebtedness rates. Today, 20 years later, the debt level of some New Länder lies over the average value of all Federal states. The background of this development is complex and depends also on the individual situation of each state. Generally, the rise of the debt level of the New Länder can be attributed to the 1990s’ estimation of a fast adjustment of the New Länder’s economic and financial power to that of the old Federal states. From today's point of view, this estimation was too optimistic. Furthermore, the New Länder have been affected differently by the transformation-conditioned structural change and the therefore arising difficulties with the necessary adjustment to the market.
In Saxony-Anhalt, which is characterised by the highest debt level of the New Länder, the collapse of the basic industry has led to high regional unemployment and to a substantial migration of the population. Still Saxony-Anhalt has countrywide the largest negative migration balance.
Regardless of these state-specific characteristics of the transformation process, there is a gradual change in the attitude towards existing debts and their handling, starting around the year 2000. So, the interest in budget consolidation increases constantly. This development was supported by the economic boom of the years 2006 and 2007. At present, the economic crisis puts the consolidation efforts of the states to the test.
The Great Risk Shift? Income Volatility in an International Perspective
CESifo Working Paper No. 2465,
Weakening bargaining power of unions and the increasing integration of the world economy may affect the volatility of capital and labor incomes. This paper documents and explains changes in income volatility. Using a theoretical framework which builds distribution risk into a real business cycle model, hypotheses on the determinants of the relative volatility of capital and labor are derived. The model is tested using industry-level data. The data cover 11 industrialized countries, 22 manufacturing and services industries, and a maximum of 35 years. The paper has four main findings. First, the unconditional volatility of labor and capital incomes has declined, reflecting the decline in macroeconomic volatility. Second, the idiosyncratic component of income volatility has hardly changed over time. Third, crosssectional heterogeneity in the evolution of relative income volatilities is substantial. If anything, the labor incomes of high- and low-skilled workers have become more volatile in relative terms. Fourth, income volatility is related to variables measuring the bargaining power of workers. Trade openness has no significant impact.
Export Promotion Needs the Disclosure of Industrial Potentials – A Case Study for the Federal State of Thuringia
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
In countries and regions with weak domestic markets, the orientation towards external markets plays an important rule. This applies even more for economies emerging from the transformation process from a state to a market economy with a small export sector and a continuous decline in the number of residents. The federal state Thuringia presents such an example. There is still a large gap in exports compared to Germany as a whole. The paper deals with the role of exports in economic development and economic measures to increase the export activities of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Thuringia. The study is based on a survey among SMEs in Thuringia on the performance of exporters and non-exporters. One of the main findings shows that export promotion was important only for one among three exporting companies during the last three years. That speaks for the confidence of the firms in their own power. The most measures used to implement or advance export activities are participation in a fair, information sessions on foreign markets and two general instruments to support companies: investment and innovation stimulation. As a result, economic measures make sense, but it should not depend on the age or the size of a company. Besides, the support should not only be given by department of foreign trade, but also by other departments. Finally, especially newcomers should be supported to entry foreign markets.