U.S. Savings Banks' Demutualization and Depositor Welfare

Economics

Speaker:Mattia Girotti, Banque de France
Date: Friday 27 May 2016
Time: 15.30
Location: Matrix Lecture Theatre, Building One

Further details

Historically, U.S. savings banks were owned by their customers, in particular by their depositors. In recent decades, however, many savings banks have demutualized, by converting from customer ownership to investor ownership. This paper provides an assessment of the effect on depositor welfare of such events. We first estimate a random coeffcients logit model of bank deposit account choice, using data on commercial and savings banks from 1994 to 2005. Having recovered depositors' preferences for bank attributes, we then measure the effect on depositor welfare of a simulated demutualization of all customer-owned savings banks. We find that, on average, depositors' welfare would increase. In particular, if demutualized savings banks offered a deposit rate in line with other investor-owned savings banks, each depositor would gain $1.14 annually, for a total of $22 million for each state and year. Our findings cast doubt on whether U.S. customer-owned savings banks are well serving their customers' interests, and offers a new explanation for observed U.S. savings bank demutualizations.