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Savings Banks and Cooperative Banks in Europe

Dilek Bülbül Post-doctorant, Chaire « banque et finance internationales », université Goethe de Francfort, Allemagne. Contact : buelbuel@finance.uni-frankfurt.de
Reinhard H. Schmidt Professeur, Chaire « banque et finance internationales », université Goethe de Francfort, Allemagne. Contact : schmidt@finance.uni-frankfurt.de
Ulrich Schüwer Post-doctorant, Chaire « banque et finance internationales », université Goethe de Francfort, Allemagne. Contact : schuewer@finance.uni-frankfurt.de


Historically, savings banks and cooperative banks have played an important role in the financial systems of almost all European countries. However, the wave of financial deregulation, liberalization and privatization in the late 20th century has changed their role and their institutional forms in most European countries. In order to assess these developments, we first characterize savings and cooperative banks by pointing out their former common characteristic features. Then we describe their recent development in different European countries and their performance before and after the financial crisis. As we argue, Germany is unique in so far as only there savings and cooperative banks have maintained most of their traditional features. We then take a look at the relevant changes that have occurred in other European countries. The article concludes with a plea for a re-orientation of EU banking policy in such a way that the diversity of institutional forms of banks in Europe is maintained and even strengthened.


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