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In this paper, the authors test whether regional growth in 11 European countries depends on financial development and suggest the use of cost- and profit-efficiency estimates as quality measures for financial institutions. Contrary to the usual quantitative proxies for financial development, the quality of financial institutions is measured in this paper as the relative ability of banks to intermediate funds. An improvement in bank efficiency spurs five times more regional growth than does an identical increase in credit. More credit provided by efficient banks exerts an independent growth effect in addition to the direct quantity and quality channel effects.
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