Mr. Francois Boutin-Dufresne, Santiago Peña, Mr. Oral Williams, and Mr. Tomasz A. Zawisza
This paper examines the determinants of net interest margins in four regional blocks in Sub-Saharan Africa and one comparator block in the Eastern Caribbean. Using bank-level data, we find that countries with a high level of operating costs, a high ratio of equity to total assets and high treasury bill interest rates have higher net interest margins. Moreover, high operating costs are associated with low measures of institutional quality and a small size of bank operations. We find support for the view that market structure is also partly responsible for high net interest margins in Sub-Saharan Africa. If interpreted causally, high operating costs and a high ratio of equity to total assets and, indirectly, institutional factors such as the rule of law, are the most important factors in accounting for high interest margins in the East African Community, relative to other regions.
Both sides of the institutions and growth debate have resorted largely to microeconometric techniques in testing hypotheses. In this paper, I build a panel structural vector autoregression (SVAR) model for a short panel of 119 countries over 10 years and find support for the institutions hypothesis. Controlling for individual fixed effects, I find that exogenous shocks to a proxy for institutional quality have a positive and statistically significant effect on GDP per capita. On average, a 1 percent shock in institutional quality leads to a peak 1.7 percent increase in GDP per capita after six years. Results are robust to using a different proxy for institutional quality. There are different dynamics for advanced economies and developing countries. This suggests diminishing returns to institutional quality improvements.