The Structure of European Banks: Is it Time to Question the Universal Banking Model?

Frédéric Oudéa Président-directeur général, Société générale.

Banks play a key role in financing the euro zone economy. They act as intermediaries by turning savings into lending, transform short-term resources into long-term funding and hedge risks for non-financial companies. The recent crisis has prompted a drastic strengthening of prudential regulation for banks and led to major changes in the euro zone’s banking system, which is still adapting to the new environment. This is the price to pay for bolstering the stability of the financial system and the wider economy. However, the measures being considered by some of the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis, such as ring-fencing or even banning certain activities, are not necessarily appropriate or relevant to the euro zone. They could actually even weaken a banking model which has proved resilient during the crisis.

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1   Coûts juridiques (révision de millions de contrats clients...), coûts sociaux (révision de contrats de travail...), restructuration des activités pour compte commun...

2   La structure capitalistique des banques mutualiste ne permet pas la filialisation de leurs activités de banque de détail, sauf à refondre entièrement l’organisation de ces banques remettant ainsi en cause l’existence de la moitié du paysage bancaire français.

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