Has the U.S. Finance Industry Become Less Efficient? On the Theory and Measurement of Financial Intermediation
I provide a quantitative interpretation of financial intermediation in the U.S. over the past 130 years. Measuring separately the cost of intermediation and the production of financial services, I find that: (i) the quantity of intermediation varies a lot over time; (ii) intermediation is produced under constant returns to scale; (iii) the annual cost of intermediation is around 2% of outstanding assets; (iv) adjustments for borrowers' quality are quantitatively important; and (v) the unit cost of intermediation has increased over the past 30 years.
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