The impact of financial liberalisation on bank performance: international evidence on efficiency and productivity

  • Yun Luo

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis provides international evidence relating to the impact of financial liberalisation on banking sector performance. Compared to a large number of studies linking financial liberalisation to economic growth and financial fragility, there is relatively little research at the international level linking financial liberalisation to banking sector efficiency and productivity. The research contributes to the literature by making a systematic, cross-country empirical investigation using domestic and international measures of financial liberalisation and evaluates their impact on bank efficiency and productivity by applying a combination of frontier estimation methods, dynamic panel data regressions and Granger causality techniques. The evidence is based on the use of bank-level accounting data and country-level economic data for a sample of 1536 commercial banks covering 88 countries over the period 2000 to 2009. Apart from using the global frontier for estimation of bank efficiency, empirical analysis is conducted across various levels including the use of separate income-group frontiers to determine the robustness of the findings.

    Using stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) for the estimation of banks’ cost and profit efficiency, the evidence shows that financial liberalisation contributes positively to profit efficiency while the effect on cost efficiency is generally mixed, depending on the measures of financial liberalisation used. Additionally, the results show that while cost efficiency remains, on average, stable during the estimation period (2000-2009), average profit efficiency fluctuates in the pre-crises period (2000-06) but declines sharply during the post crises period (2007-09). Furthermore, accounting explicitly for the influence of risk in banking, the evidence suggests that financial liberalisation, lower cost efficiency and higher profit efficiency of banks all increase the potential for default risk, while the latter also reduces both cost and profit efficiency, providing support for the bad management hypothesis. Additionally, upon accounting explicitly for the role of market power or competition in banking, the evidence suggests that both financial liberalisation and greater market power contribute to higher default risk of banks. On the other hand, greater competition in banking contributes to higher cost but lower profit efficiency of banks under financial liberalisation.

    The cross-country empirical investigation is also extended to analyse the impact of financial liberalisation on banks’ technical efficiency and productivity growth, using a two-step approach of combining data envelopment analysis (DEA) with panel data regressions. The evidence here suggests that financial liberalisation is robustly and negatively associated with (pure) technical efficiency. Furthermore, the effect on the total factor productivity (TFP) growth (using two-step DEA-type Malmquist method) is positive, although not always statistically significant.

    The robustness analysis conducted across the different income groups (higher, upper-middle, lower-middle and lower) confirms that the impact on cost, profit and technical efficiency of banks is more pronounced in the more developed (higher and upper-middle) countries than in the less developed countries. In particular, the impact of financial liberalisation is largely insignificant in the lower income countries. This finding generally reflects the greater pace of capital account liberalisation in the higher and upper-middle income countries, where the impact on both cost and profit efficiency is positive. Throughout the analysis, the estimation takes into account country-specific differences in the regulatory, market structure, financial development and macro-economic conditions and the evidence shows that these influences are also mostly significant and robust under financial liberalisation. Hence, the thesis concludes by arguing that financial liberalisation exerts an independent effect on the cost, profit and technical efficiency of banks, while the risks associated with financial liberalisation should be mitigated with better regulatory and institutional structures.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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