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A note on technical change in banking: the case of European savings banks

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Using a Fourier flexible form cost function methodology, technical progress is estimated for a large sample of European savings banks between 1989 and 1997. On average, technical progress has reduced savings banks total costs by around 3.4% per annum. Since the European savings banks industry is characterized by technology sharing arrangements, a test is made to determine whether technical change is positively related to bank size. The estimates identify two important features of how technical progress has effected European savings banks' costs. First, costs reductions arising from technical change diminish between 1989 and 1997. Second, technical progress has a bigger impact on reducing large savings banks' costs, chiefly because of its influence on input prices, that is, non-neutral technical change increases systematically with size. This suggests that large savings banks have greater flexibility in reducing costs in response to technical progress, implying that technology sharing arrangements have not led to uniform reductions in banks' total cost. Rather, large savings banks are market leaders and small banks market followers. Since larger banks benefit more from technical progress this may be an important factor promoting consolidation in the European savings banks industry.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Granada, Spain 2: Centre for Banking and Financial Studies, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG, UK

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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