Comparative Financial Systems: A Survey
AbstractWhat is a Financial System? The purpose of a financial system is to channel funds from agents with surpluses to agents with deficits. In the traditional literature there have been two approaches to analyzing this process. The first is to consider how agents interact through financial markets. The second looks at the operation of financial intermediaries such as banks and insurance companies. Fifty years ago, the financial system could be neatly bifurcated in this way. Rich households and large firms used the equity and bond markets, while less wealthy households and medium and small firms used banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. Table 1, for example, shows the ownership of corporate equities in 1950. Households owned over 90 percent. By 2000 it can be seen that the situation had changed dramatically. By then households held less than 40 percent, nonbank intermediaries, primarily pension funds and mutual funds, held over 40 percent. This change illustrates why it is no longer possible to consider the role of financial markets and financial institutions separately. Rather than intermediating directly between households and firms, financial institutions have increasingly come to intermediate between households and markets, on the one hand, and between firms and markets, on the other. This makes it necessary to consider the financial system as an irreducible whole. The notion that a financial system transfers resources between households and firms is, of course, a simplification. Governments usually play a significant role in the financial system. They are major borrowers, particularly during times of war, recession, or when large infrastructure projects are being undertaken. They sometimes also have significant amounts of funds. For example, when countries such as Norway and many Middle Eastern States have access to large amounts of natural resources (oil), the government may acquire large trust funds on behalf of the population. In addition to their roles as borrowers or savers, governments usually play a number of other important roles. Central banks typically issue fiat money and are extensively involved in the payments system. Financial systems with unregulated markets and intermediaries, such as the US in the late nineteenth century, often experience financial crises (Gorton (1988) and Calomiris and Gorton (1991)). The desire to eliminate these crises led many governments to intervene in a significant way in the financial system. Central banks or some other regulatory authority are charged with regulating the banking system and other intermediaries, such as insurance companies. So in most countries governments play an important role in the operation of financial systems. This intervention means that the political system, which determines the government and its policies, is also relevant for the financial system. There are some historical instances where financial markets and institutions have operated in the absence of a well-defined legal system, relying instead on reputation and other implicit mechanisms. However, in most financial systems the law plays an important role. It determines what kinds of contacts are feasible, what kinds of governance mechanisms can be used for corporations, the restrictions that can be placed on securities and so forth. Hence, the legal system is an important component of a financial system. A financial system is much more than all of this, however. An important pre-requisite of the ability to write contracts and enforce rights of various kinds is a system of accounting. In addition to allowing contracts to be written, an accounting system allows investors to value a company more easily and to assess how much it would be prudent to lend to it. Accounting information is only one type of information (albeit the most important) required by financial systems. The incentives to generate and disseminate information are crucial features of a financial system. Without significant amounts of human capital it will not be possible for any of these components of a financial system to operate effectively. Well-trained lawyers, accountants and financial professionals such as bankers are crucial for an effective financial system, as the experience of Eastern Europe demonstrates. The literature on comparative financial systems is at an early stage. Our survey builds on previous overviews by Allen (1993), Allen and Gale (1995) and Thakor (1996). These overviews have focused on two sets of issues. Normative: How effective are different types of financial systems at various functions? Positive: What drives the evolution of the financial system? The first set of issues of considered in sections 2-6, which focus on issues of investment and saving, growth, risk sharing, information provision and corporate governance, respectively. Section 7 considers the influence of law and politics on the financial system while Section 8 looks at the role financial crises have had in shaping the financial system. Section 9 contains concluding remarks.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 01-15.
Date of creation: Apr 2001
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 3301 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, 3620 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104.6367
Web page: http://fic.wharton.upenn.edu/fic/
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ACC-2001-07-23 (Accounting & Auditing)
- NEP-ALL-2001-07-23 (All new papers)
- NEP-FMK-2001-07-23 (Financial Markets)
- NEP-MFD-2001-07-25 (Microfinance)
- NEP-PKE-2001-07-23 (Post Keynesian Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996.
"Law and Finance,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1768, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1998. "Law and Finance," Scholarly Articles 3451310, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1995.
"Financial Markets, Intermediaries, and Intertemporal Smoothing,"
Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers
95-02, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
- Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1997. "Financial Markets, Intermediaries, and Intertemporal Smoothing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 523-46, June.
- Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1996. "Financial Markets, Intermediaries and Intertemporal Smoothing," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-33, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
- Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1995. "Financial markets, intermediaries, and intertemporal smoothing," Working Papers 95-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
- Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-66, September.
- Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1995.
"A welfare comparison of intermediaries and financial markets in Germany and the US,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-209, February.
- Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1994. "A welfare comparison of intermediaries and financial markets in Germany and the U.S," Working Papers 95-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
- Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan V, 1997. "Banking Scope and Financial Innovation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(4), pages 1099-1131.
- Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 2000. "Bubbles and Crises," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 236-55, January.
- Falko Fecht & Marcel Tyrell, 2004.
"Optimal Lender of Last Resort Policy in Different Financial Systems,"
- Fecht, Falko & Tyrell, Marcel, 2004. "Optimal lender of last resort policy in different financial systems," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,39, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
- Chakraborty, Shankha & Ray, Tridip, 2007.
"The development and structure of financial systems,"
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control,
Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 2920-2956, September.
- Shankha Chakraborty & Tridip Ray, 2003. "The Development and Structure of Financial Systems," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2003-2, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Dec 2003.
- Falko Fecht, 2004.
"On the Stability of Different Financial Systems,"
Journal of the European Economic Association,
MIT Press, vol. 2(6), pages 969-1014, December.
- Falko Fecht, 2003. "On the Stability of Different Financial Systems," Finance 0305008, EconWPA.
- Fecht, Falko, 2003. "On the Stability of Different Financial Systems," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2003,10, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
- Falko Fecht, 2003. "On the Stability of Different Financial Systems," Working Paper Series: Finance and Accounting 110, Department of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
- Hamadi FakhFakh & Rim Zouari-Hadiji, 2011. "Dettes financières et investissement en R&D:une étude comparative," Working Papers FARGO 1110302, Université de Bourgogne - Leg (laboratoire d'économie et de gestion)/Fargo (Research center in Finance,organizational ARchitecture and GOvernance).
- Ramdane Djoudad & Jack Selody & Carolyn Wilkins, 2005. "Does Financial Structure Matter for the Information Content of Financial Indicators?," Working Papers 05-33, Bank of Canada.
- Corsetti, Giancarlo & Guimaraes, Bernardo & Roubini, Nouriel, 2006.
"International lending of last resort and moral hazard: A model of IMF's catalytic finance,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 441-471, April.
- Giancarlo Corsetti & Bernardo Guimaraes & Nouriel Roubini, 2003. "International Lending of Last Resort and Moral Hazard: A Model of IMF's Catalytic Finance," NBER Working Papers 10125, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Garofalo, Giuseppe & Morganti, Patrizio, 2010. "Il finanziamento degli investimenti in R&S. Gli effetti sulla crescita e sulla struttura finanziaria," MPRA Paper 23551, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Burkhard Raunig & Johann Scharler, 2007.
"Money market uncertainty and retail interest rate fluctuations: A cross-country comparison,"
Economics working papers
2007-04, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
- Burkhard Raunig & Johann Scharler, 2009. "Money Market Uncertainty and Retail Interest Rate Fluctuations: A Cross-Country Comparison," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 176-192, 05.
- Shankha Chakraborty & Tridip Ray, 2003.
"Bank-based versus Market-based Financial Systems: A Growth-theoretic Analysis,"
University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers
2003-6, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Feb 2002.
- Chakraborty, Shankha & Ray, Tridip, 2006. "Bank-based versus market-based financial systems: A growth-theoretic analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 329-350, March.
- Johann Scharler, 2007.
"Do Bank-Based Financial Systems Reduce Macroeconomic Volatility by Smoothing Interest Rates?,"
117, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
- Scharler, Johann, 2008. "Do bank-based financial systems reduce macroeconomic volatility by smoothing interest rates?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1207-1221, September.
- Harilaos Mertzanis, 2011. "The effectiveness of corporate governance policy in Greece," Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(3), pages 222-243, July.
- Tuomas Takalo & Otto Toivanen, 2004.
"Equilibrium in financial markets with adverse selection,"
- Takalo, Tuomas & Toivanen, Otto, 2003. "Equilibrium in financial markets with adverse selection," Research Discussion Papers 6/2003, Bank of Finland.
- Karl-Hermann Fischer / Christian Pfeil, 2003. "Regulation and Competition in German Banking: An Assessment," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/19, Center for Financial Studies.
- João A.C. Santos, 1998. "Banking and commerce: how does the United States compare to other countries?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 14-26.
- Valérie Revest & Sandro Sapio, 2008. "Financing Technology-Based Small Firms in Europe: a review of the empirical evidence," LEM Papers Series 2008/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.