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Investigating the Banking Consolidation Trend

Quarterly Review 1521 | Spring 1991

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Investigating the Banking Consolidation Trend


This paper examines whether the U.S. banking industry's recent consolidation trend—toward fewer and bigger firms—is a natural result of market forces. The paper finds that it is not: The evidence does not support the popular claims that large banking firms are more efficient and less risky than smaller firms or the notion that the industry is consolidating in order to eliminate excess capacity. The paper suggests, instead, that public policies are encouraging banks to merge, although it acknowledges that other forces may be at work as well.