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The transformation of the German financial system


  • Andreas Hackethal
  • Reinhard H. Schmidt
  • Marcel Tyrell


Until the end of the last decade, German banking and corporate governance and the financial system as a whole were characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The most important characteristics of the German financial system were bank dominance of the entire financial sector, a strong role of not strictly profit-oriented banks and a stakeholder oriented and insider controlled corporate governance regime. In looking at the German financial system as it used to be, one can easily recognize that it constituted a well-balanced system, as the authors show in section III. However, the past seven to ten years have witnessed an array of changes in the legal, financial and business environment of German banks and corporations and in the financial system as a whole. Most notably, the role of public banks and the stakeholder orientation of the corporate governance system have come under pressure, and the possible demise of these elements may imply a fundamental transformation of the entire German financial system. These developments are described and analyzed in section IV. One way of explaining the former stability of the German financial systems is to point out that its main elements were complementary to each other and also consistent. Recent developments, most notably a change in the behavior and the strategy of Germany’s large private banks, have already undermined this systemic consistency. Considerations pertaining to the systemic character may also shape the process of a possible transformation. As the authors argue in the concluding section of their paper, it is precisely because of the importance of complementarity, that this possible transformation might not be a gradual process but rather abrupt and possibly also painful and that it might even lead to the adoption of an economically inferior financial system.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Hackethal & Reinhard H. Schmidt & Marcel Tyrell, 2006. "The transformation of the German financial system," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 116(4), pages 431-456.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:repdal:redp_164_0431

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Thierry Theurillat & José Corpataux & Olivier Crevoisier, 2008. "The Impact of Institutional Investors on Corporate Governance: A View of Swiss Pension Funds in a Changing Financial Environment," GRET Publications and Working Papers 12-08, GRET Group of Research in Territorial Economy, University of Neuchâtel.
    2. Gärtner, Stefan & Flögel, Franz, 2014. "Call for a Spatial Classification of Banking Systems through the Lens of SME Finance - Decentralized versus Centralized Banking in Germany as an Example," IAT Discussion Papers 14/01, Institut Arbeit und Technik (IAT), Westfälische Hochschule, University of Applied Sciences.
    3. Flögel, Franz, 2016. "Distance and Modern Banks' Lending to SMEs: Decentralised versus Centralised Banking in Germany," IAT Discussion Papers 16/01, Institut Arbeit und Technik (IAT), Westfälische Hochschule, University of Applied Sciences.
    4. Gärtner, Stefan & Flögel, Franz, 2014. "Call for a Spatial Classification of Banking Systems through the Lens of SME Finance - Decentralized versus Centralized Banking in Germany as an Example," EconStor Preprints 97512, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.


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