- How politics influence state-owned banks : the case of German savings banks (2008)
- This paper is one of the first to analyse political influence on state-owned savings banks in a developed country with an established financial market: Germany. Combining a large dataset with financial and operating figures of all 457 German savings banks from 1994 to 2006 and information on over 1,250 local elections during this period we investigate the change in business behavior around elections. We find strong indications for political inflence: the probability that savings banks close branches, lay-off employees or engage in merger activities is significantly reduced around elections. At the same time they tend to increase their extraordinary spendings, which include support for social and cultural events in the area, on average by over 15%. Finally, we find that savings banks extend significantly more loans to their corporate and private customers in the run-up to an election. In further analyses, we show that the magnitude of political influence depends on bank specific, economical and political circumstances in the city or county: political influence seems to be facilitated by weak political majorities and profitable banks. Banks in economically weak areas seem to be less prone to political influence.
- The quiet life hypothesis in banking : evidence from German savings banks (2008)
- The "quiet life hypothesis (QLH)" posits that banks enjoy the advantages of market power in terms of foregone revenues or cost savings. We suggest a unified approach to measure competition and efficiency simultaneously to test this hypothesis. We estimate bank-specific Lerner indices as measures of competition and test if cost and profit efficiency are negatively related to market power in the case of German savings banks.We find that both market power and average revenues declined among these banks between 1996 and 2006. While we find clear evidence supporting the QLH, estimated effects of the QLH are small from an economical perspective.
- The effects of size on local banks´ funding costs (2008)
- Motivated by the recent discussion of the declining importance of deposits as banks´ major source of funding we investigate which factors determine funding costs at local banks. Using a panel data set of more than 800 German local savings and cooperative banks for the period from 1998 to 2004 we show that funding costs are not only driven by the relative share of comparatively cheap deposits of bank´s liabilities but among other factors especially by the size of the bank. In our empirical analysis we find strong and robust evidence that, ceteris paribus, smaller banks exhibit lower funding costs than larger banks suggesting that small banks are able to attract deposits more cheaply than their larger counterparts. We argue that this is the case because smaller banks interact more personally with customers, operate in customers´ geographic proximity and have longer and stronger relationships than larger banks and, hence, are able to charge higher prices for their services. Our finding of a strong influence of bank size on funding costs is also in an in- ternational context of great interest as mergers among small local banks - the key driver of bank growth - are a recent phenomenon not only in European banking that is expected to continue in the future. At the same time, net interest income remains by far the most important source of revenue for most local banks, accounting for approximately 70% of total operating revenues in the case of German local banks. The influence of size on funding costs is of strong economic relevance: our results suggest that an increase in size by 50%, for example, from EUR 500 million in total assets to EUR 750 million (exemplary for M&A transactions among local banks) increases funding costs, ceteris paribus, by approximately 18 basis points which relates to approx. 7% of banks´ average net interest margin.