Much literature before and after the privatization of Mexico's commercial banking system in 1991-1992 argued that the system was collusive and noncompetitive and would likely continue to be for years. Banks would collude to underloan so that - at least in comparison with what would happen in a competitive system - they could overcharge. Because a parallel literature on lending after bank privatization suggests that the problem is often not too little, but too much, we resolved to test for competitive behavior in the Mexican banking system. Using an empirical approach developed by Shaffer (Econom. Lett. 29 (1989) 321, J. Money Credit Bank. 25 (1993) 49, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Working paper no. 93-28R), we find a structural break in the middle of the privatization period that signals the start of an episode of what Shaffer calls "supercompetitive" behavior. In such a supercompetition, banks run at levels of output where marginal cost exceeds marginal revenue. This behavior is consistent with a struggle in which banks take losses now because they think the market share they get in the bargain offers a positive present value of expected future return. The behavior can also be consistent with just the sort of banking crises that ensued in Mexico.
- Financial crisis