Analyzing Cost Structures in the Banking Industry

An Unconventional Approach

  • Marie Elisabeth Alert
  • Horst Gischer
  • Christian Ilchmann


Our paper deals with empirical and technical problems to derive (conventional) cost functions in banks and other financial institutions. One main reason is based on the still ongoing discussion on inputs and outputs of financial intermediaries. A second obstacle is due to the fact that most of the banks are multi-product firms. The existing literature provides an impressive variety of methods but rather focuses on productivity or efficiency, respectively. We suggest a completely different approach instead which might be suitable to identify the relevant cost drivers in banking. Our “model” uses FDIC Call Report data to outline the procedure exemplarily for North Dakota. Of course, additional improvements are necessary, hence our contribution is work in progress on new ground.