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Jacob A. Bikker and Laura Spierdijk

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Sherrill Shaffer and Laura Spierdijk

Decades of theoretical and empirical research have contributed numerous ways to measure competition and to compare the competitive impact of alternate regulatory policies and market environments. Several of the most convenient measures, unfortunately, are beset by very serious problems, while none are completely ideal. Faced with an ongoing and undiminished need to assess competition and market power nonetheless, we would advocate a focus on the scant handful of “least objectionable” measures. Among these, the Lerner index and the Rothschild–Bresnahan conduct index together provide complementary, well-established, easily understood measures that relate to policy-relevant aspects of market power according to formal underlying theoretical models of firms and industries. The latter approach is slightly more demanding with regard to data and estimation techniques, requiring nonlinear systems estimation except in a correlation version under additional assumptions; one tradeoff is that the correlation version yields only qualitative (rather than quantitative) conclusions about market power.

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Sherrill Shaffer and Laura Spierdijk

Although the theoretical literature has shown that the Panzar–Rosse H-statistic fails as a measure of market power, it is still a widely used statistic in empirical banking studies. Such studies still rely on the erroneous belief that H > 0 is inconsistent with significant market power. This chapter provides empirical evidence against the latter belief by analyzing a US banking duopoly. We find “competitive” estimates of H but, consistent with a priori expectations, non-competitive outcomes according to an alternate measure of competition, the Lerner index. Moreover, our bank-specific estimates of H are mutually inconsistent, suggesting additional problems with the Panzar–Rosse test.

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Laura Spierdijk and Michalis Zaouras

We analyze the “other side” of the competition–risk nexus in a setting of endogenous bank risk by expressing the Lerner index as a function of risk-related parameters and other determinants. Our main result is that banks’ ability to raise prices above the competitive level depends, among other things, on the extent to which lenders respond to an increase in the loan rate by taking more risk. This finding illustrates that differences in Lerner indices may arise as a result of differences in risk-taking behavior.

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Edited by Jacob A. Bikker and Laura Spierdijk

For academics, regulators and policymaker alike, it is crucial to measure financial sector competition by means of reliable, well-established methods. However, this is easier said than done. The goal of this Handbook is to provide a collection of state-of-the-art chapters to address this issue. The book consists of four parts, the first of which discusses the characteristics of various measures of financial sector competition. The second part includes several empirical studies on the level of, and trends in, competition across countries. The third part deals with the spillovers of market power to other sectors and the economy as a whole. Finally, the fourth part considers competition in banking submarkets and subsectors.