After the crisis, European banks seem to be retreating from global banking. Moreover, they leave the investment banking market to the large US investment banks. But are these reports correct? Our findings show that the global Asian banks are not affected, while the large US banks resumed business after a swift and decisive recapitalisation in March 2009. The European picture is mixed. Global banks from the UK and Switzerland experienced a major downsizing and reduction in global reach. Euro-area banks have an intermediate position: they show a moderate downsizing but upheld their geographical reach.
Policy-makers face a choice. We recommend completing Banking Union with the ECB as prudential supervisor and the ESM as fiscal backstop. That would bring the euro-area at par with the US and China, which can provide a credible fiscal backstop to their banking system. Following Brexit, we suggest that the European Securities Markets Authority should become the central markets supervisor to support vibrant capital markets, where not only US investment banks but also European banks can play a role.