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Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Economic Review
Examining small business lending in bank antitrust analysis
W. Scott Frame

The U.S. banking industry has entered an unprecedented period of consolidation and reorganization. This bank merger wave has sparked public policy debate about the desirability of such combinations, particularly in regard to evaluating antitrust considerations. ; More than thirty years ago, legal precedent established the relevant antitrust product market for banking as the cluster of banking products and services. Many are questioning whether a move away from this aggregate approach toward a more traditional product-based antitrust analysis would better reflect today's market realities in which the presence of numerous nonbank competitors competing over wider geographic areas often reduces concentration concerns. At the same time, the market for small business loans has particularly interested both bank regulators and the Justice Department because of the lack of nonbank competitors and the local nature of these loans. ; The author of this article provides an overview of recent developments in banking antitrust analysis, particularly in the area of small business lending. In discussing the potential costs and benefits to disaggregating the product market for purposes of antitrust analysis, he concludes that while doing so is theoretically appealing, disaggregating the product market for banking (and examining small business lending) suffers from several measurement problems resulting from a lack of reliable data.

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W. Scott Frame, "Examining small business lending in bank antitrust analysis" , Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Economic Review, issue Mar, pages 31-40, 1995.
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Keywords: Bank loans ; Small business
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