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An Overview of the Canadian Banking System: 1996 to 2015


  • Robert McKeown

    () (Queen's University)


From 1996 to 2015, total assets at Canadian and foreign banks operating in Canada grew four-times in size. This growth occurred with neither a significant regulatory change, such as the repeal of Glass-Steagall, nor the introduction of new business lines, such as wealth management or investment banking. Using data from CANSIM and a little used dataset from OSFI, I describe how the Canadian banks earn revenue, fund business activities, and pay expenses. The success of the Canadian banking system can be attributed to: i) a focus on retail and branch-level banking, ii) a preference for deposit-financing, and iii) minimizing costs, particularly noninterest expenses. Furthermore, I provide a broad overview of the data, accounting rules, and trends in Canadian banking. Estimating a reduced form model similar to DeBoskey and Jiang (2012), I find no evidence that the Canadian banks manipulated the provision for credit losses to ‘smooth’ earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert McKeown, 2017. "An Overview of the Canadian Banking System: 1996 to 2015," Working Papers 1379, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1379

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Bank; Bank Lending; Borrowing; Commercial Banks; Financial Intermediaries; Retail Bank; Canada; Canadian;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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