Output, Productivity and Externalities - the Case of Banking

Staff working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 01 August 1992

Working Paper No. 3
By R J Colwell and E P Davis

Concepts in banking output, and the empirical literature on bank productivity - which employs output concepts - are critically surveyed. Related issues concerning externalities from banking activity, which entail a deviation of private from social measures of banking output, are outlined. For output, the national accounts, production and intermediation approaches are compared. As regards productivity, both partial and total factor productivity measures, and the DEA and parametric approaches to the latter are assessed. The externalities from banking are shown to include contributions to economic development, external economies of scale between institutions, and contagious effects of failures. Among the most striking results is the prevalence of technical inefficiency in banking. In addition, externality issues are rarely considered in combination nor assessed empirically. But more generally, it is also suggested that measurement techniques have often outpaced the theory of what is to be measured, notably in fields such as joint production, risk and competition. Alternative approaches to address these issues are suggested. 

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