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What makes banks special ? a study of banking, finance, and economic development


  • Bossone, Biagio


Over the past decades, finance theory has contributed significantly to understanding banks and identifying what qualifies them to be special financial intermediaries. Historically, banks have had a comparative advantage in certain functions - such as providing liquidity and payment services and supplying credit and information - which competition, technological change, and institutional development have increasingly eroded. And the spread of e-money could deal a blow to conventional banking, generating entirely new ways of doing finance. After integrating his examination of money, production, and investment, the author argues that banks remain special in that they lend claims on their own debt and the public accepts the debt claims as money. His study shows the banks and nonbank financial intermediaries perform complementary functions essential to the economy. Risk reduction policies in payment systems, banking asset allocation, and the deposit market affect the economy's tradeoff between risk and efficiency and the cost of generating resources to finance production. As possibilities for global communications expand, trust will matter more than ever, and banks and other financial intermediaries will be in a good position to bridge gaps in trust when it comes to creating money and intermediating funds.

Suggested Citation

  • Bossone, Biagio, 2000. "What makes banks special ? a study of banking, finance, and economic development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2408, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2408

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantinos Drakos & Panagiotis Konstantinou, 2005. "Competition and Contestability in Transition Banking: An Empirical Analysis," South-Eastern Europe Journal of Economics, Association of Economic Universities of South and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region, vol. 3(2), pages 183-209.


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