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A reassessment of intermediation and size effects of financial systems

Several recent studies on the finance-growth nexus highlight that too much financial development, as it has been established in many advanced economies, harms growth. Beck et al. (2014) criticize this literature for only focusing on intermediation activities of financial systems, even though financial sectors in advanced countries have extended their scope beyond traditional tasks. In line with this argument, they find for a panel of high-income countries that financial sector size and non-intermediation activity stimulate growth, while intermediation activity has no effect. However, Beck et al. (2014) focus only on OLS regressions with a very limited number of control variables. We test for the robustness of these results. Our findings show that they depend on outliers, and are not robust against alternative specifications or estimation approaches. Further, a big financial sector and too many non-intermediation activities are found to reduce growth in some specifications. Our results suggest that Beck et al.

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