AbstractThe author examines the corporate governance of banks. When banks efficiently mobilize and allocate funds, this lowers the cost of capital to firms, boosts capital formation, and stimulates productivity growth. So, weak governance of banks reverberates throughout the economy with negative ramifications for economic development. After reviewing the major governance concepts for corporations in general, the author discusses two special attributes of banks that make them special in practice: greater opaqueness than other industries and greater government regulation. These attributes weaken many traditional governance mechanisms. Next, he reviews emerging evidence on which government policies enhance the governance of banks and draws tentative policy lessons. In sum, existing work suggests that it is important to strengthen the ability and incentives of private investors to exert governance over banks rather than to rely excessively on government regulators. These conclusions, however, are particularly tentative because more research is needed on how legal, regulatory, and supervisory policies influence the governance of banks.
“Levine, Ross. 2004. The Corporate Governance of Banks: A Concise Discussion of Concepts and Evidence. Policy Research Working Paper;No.3404. World Bank, Washington, D.C.. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/14239 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
This item appears in the following Collection(s)
This paper reviews the empirical literature on the corporate governance of banks. We start by highlighting the main differences between banks and nonfinancial firms and focus on three characteristics that make banks special: (i) regulation, (ii) the capital structure of banks, and (iii) the complexity and opacity of their business and structure. Next, we discuss the characteristics of corporate governance in banks and how they differ from the governance of nonfinancial firms. We then review the evidence on three governance mechanisms: (i) boards, (ii) ownership structures, and (iii) executive compensation. Our review suggests that some of the empirical regularities found in the literature on corporate governance of nonfinancial institutions, such as the positive (negative) association between board independence (size) and performance, do not hold for banks. Also, existing work provides no conclusive results regarding the relationship between different governance mechanisms and various measures for banks’ performance. We discuss potential explanations for these mixed results.