How bank business models drive interest margins: evidence from US bank-level data

Ivo Arnold, SE Ewijk van

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The two decades prior to the credit crisis witnessed a strategic shift from a traditional, relationships-oriented model (ROM) to a transactions-oriented model (TOM) of financial intermediation in developed countries. A concurrent trend has been a persistent decline in average bank interest margins. In the literature, these phenomena are often explained using a causality that runs from increased competition in traditional segments to lower margins to new activities. Using a comprehensive data set with bank-level data on over 16,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured US commercial banks for a period ranging from 1992 to 2010, this paper qualifies this chain of causality. We find that a bank's business model, measured using a multi-dimensional proxy of relationship banking activity, exerts a strong, positive effect on interest margins. Our results suggest that the strategic shift from ROM to TOM has transformed banks’ balance sheets and reduced interest rate margins as a by-product.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-873
Number of pages24
JournalThe European Journal of Finance
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2013

Research programs

  • ESE - F&A


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