Banking efficiency in South East Europe: Evidence for financial crises and the gap between new EU members and candidate countries

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Economic Systems, ISSN: 0939-3625, Vol: 41, Issue: 1, Page: 122-138

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Bashkim Nurboja; Marko Košak
Elsevier BV
Economics, Econometrics and Finance
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In this study we compare the cost efficiency of banks in ten South East European countries and find out how differences in efficiency are related to EU membership. The results reveal a statistically significant cost efficiency gap between EU and non-EU banking systems in the region, where on average EU banking systems tend to be more cost efficient than their non-EU counterparts. In contrast to other similar studies analyzing banking efficiency in South East European countries, we also run β -convergence and σ -convergence tests, as proposed in the literature. Based on these tests we can draw conclusions concerning the existence of a catching-up effect, since the detected cost efficiency gap is closing predominantly because of adjustments on the side of the less efficient banks. Additionally, we found that during the 2008 global financial crisis, the average cost efficiency scores of banks in the region improved, which could be explained by enhanced incentives of bank managers for intensified cost optimization in banks in crisis times. Our results suggest that the institutional adjustments in the non-EU countries should continue towards EU standards, as the EU banking systems tend to dominate in terms of measured cost efficiency.