Does bank competition jeopardize financial stability? By building a model of imperfect banking competition featuring the accumulation of bank equity via retained earnings, this paper finds that bank competition can have different short-run and long-run effects on financial stability. In the short run, less competition can jeopardize stability as it increases banks’ loan assets and thus lowers their equity-to-assets ratios (equity ratios), making them more likely to default. In the long run, less competition tends to enhance stability as banks make higher profits and accumulate equity faster over time, resulting in higher equity ratios and hence lower bank default probabilities. The extent of this long-run stability gain from less competition and whether the stability gain outweighs the efficiency loss crucially depend on banks’ dividend distribution or macroprudential policies. Empirically, this paper finds two sets of supporting evidence for the model predictions using a large bank-level panel from EU and OECD countries spanning around 15 years. First, bank concentration, an inverse measure for competition, has a significant positive effect on the change in bank equity. Second, banks’ equity ratios are found to be negatively related to their default probabilities, which are proxied by credit default swap spreads.
This paper studies the impact of imperfect banking competition on aggregate fluctuations using a DSGE framework that features a Cournot banking sector. The paper highlights a new propagation mechanism of imperfect banking competition that operates via the dynamics of the expected marginal product of capital. Since capital is partly financed by bank loans, a higher expected return on capital implies that firms are more willing to borrow to invest in capital, making their capital and thus loan demand more inelastic. Market power enables banks to take advantage of the lower loan demand elasticity by charging a higher loan rate markup. Given different shocks affect the dynamics of the expected return on capital differently, this paper finds that while the loan rate markup after a contractionary monetary policy shock increases and thus amplifies aggregate fluctuations, the impact of imperfect banking competition after a productivity shock is less clear and depends on the persistence of the shock.
While it is widely perceived that financial frictions have adverse impact on capital allocation, the importance of this impact is difficult to quantify. This paper presents a novel two-step approach to estimate the importance of financial frictions on capital misallocation, measured by the dispersion of the marginal revenue product of capital. First, based on the general theoretical result that the capital investment of financially constrained firms is more sensitive to their internal financing than for unconstrained firms, I use a switching regression approach to jointly estimate the two different investment regimes and the probability of each firm being constrained. Firms are classified as financially constrained or unconstrained based on the estimated probabilities. Second, I provide a decomposition of capital misallocation and estimate the fraction that can be explained by the presence of financially constrained firms. Applying this method to large panels of manufacturing firms for 20 countries from the 1990s to 2015, this paper finds that for most countries and two-digit industries, more than a quarter of firms are classified as financially constrained. Furthermore, the presence of these constrained firms accounts for more than half of capital misallocation.