Abstract

Regulatory change not seen since the Great Depression swept the U.S. banking industry beginning in the early 1980s and culminating with the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994. Banking analysts anticipated dramatic consolidation with large numbers of mergers and acquisitions. Less well documented, but equally important, was the continuing entry of new banks, tempering the decline in the overall number of banking institutions. This paper examines whether deregulation affected bank new-charter (birth), failure (death), and merger (marriage) rates during the 1980s and 1990s after controlling for bank performance and state economic activity. We find evidence that intrastate deregulation stimulated births and marriages, but not deaths. Moreover, we find little evidence that interstate deregulation affected births, deaths, or marriages, except that the marriage rate rose after the implementation of the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act. Finally, pair-wise temporal causality tests among births, deaths, and marriages show that mergers temporally lead new charters and that failures lead mergers (a demonstration effect).

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