How consistent are measures of financial liberalization in assessing its impact on bank cost efficiency? A cross–country empirical analysis

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Using a sample of commercial bank–year observations covering 104 countries over the 1999–2017 period, we consider five contemporary de jure and de facto indicators of financial liberalization to provide a comparative assessment of their impact on bank cost efficiency. With the sole exception of one de jure index, all other financial liberalization measures consistently indicate an improvement in cost efficiency. We also compare the effects before and after the 2007 global financial crisis, which instigated a policy shift from deregulation to prudential re–regulation. We find that prudential re–regulation did not detrimentally affect bank cost efficiency. Our results for the main financial liberalization measures hold irrespective of countries’ stage of economic development and prove robust to re–estimations based on a single-country efficiency frontier for the US, alternative model specifications and methodologies that account for endogeneity and cross section dependence. The key policy implication from our findings is that prudential policies aimed at fostering stability and less bank risk–taking, can be pursued without any risks of hindering financial intermediation and lowering bank cost efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberJBEC-D-23-00344R2
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Business Economics
Early online date9 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2024

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  • Financial liberalization
  • Prudential re–regulation
  • Financial openness
  • Financial integration
  • Bank cost efficiency


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