Banking relationships in Germany: empirical results and policy implications
Expanding the range of activities by banks and other financial intermediaries has attracted much attention in the 1990s. Proponents of universal banking point to the benefits of German system of finance. Germany is the prototypical economy where universal banks, which offer a wide-range of financial services, allegedly exert substantial influence over firms and generate beneficial effects for the economy-wide allocation of credit. Arguments for replacing the specialized banking system currently in place in the United States with a universal banking system rely on a favorable evaluation of the German financial system. An empirical evaluation of banking relationships in Germany, however, has been hindered by a lack of data. This study reports an initial set of results based on a rich dataset containing balance sheet and income statement variables supplemented by measures of ownership concentration and bank influence.
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