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Scale Economies, Scope Economies, and Technical Change in Federal Reserve Payment Processing


Robert M. Adams


Federal Reserve Board

Paul W. Bauer


Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Robin C. Sickles


Rice University - Department of Economics

December 17, 2002

FEDS Working Paper No. 2002-57
FRB of Cleveland Working Paper No. 02-13

Abstract:     
In the past decade, the US economy has witnessed a tremendous surge in the usage of electronic payment processing services and an increased importance of the firms that provide these services. The payments industry has also undergone changes in cost structure with the introduction of new technology. Unfortunately, data on the private provision of payment processing services are not available. However, the Federal Reserve provides similar services and collects data on its own provision of payments processing, offering an opportunity to gain insights into the cost structure of payments processing. In this paper, we estimate the scope and scale economies and the technical change in the Federal Reserve's provision of payments processing from 1990-2000. We find considerable scale economies and evidence of some scope economies for the provision of automated clearinghouse, fedwire, and book-entry services no matter whether we specify a separable quadratic or a translog cost function. In addition, we find that disembodied technical change also contributed to the overall reduction in costs throughout the 1990s.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: Productivity, scope economies, scale economies, financial institutions

JEL Classification: D2, G2

working papers series


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Date posted: March 17, 2003 ; Last revised: November 18, 2007

Suggested Citation

Adams, Robert M. and Bauer, Paul W. and Sickles, Robin C., Scale Economies, Scope Economies, and Technical Change in Federal Reserve Payment Processing (December 17, 2002). FEDS Working Paper No. 2002-57; FRB of Cleveland Working Paper No. 02-13. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=369542 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.369542

Contact Information

Robert M. Adams (Contact Author)
Federal Reserve Board ( email )
20th and C Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20551
202-452-2653 (Phone)
Paul W. Bauer
Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland ( email )
PO Box 6387
Cleveland, OH 44101
United States
216-579-3021 (Phone)
Robin C. Sickles
Rice University - Department of Economics ( email )
6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
United States
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