By Anthony Saunders, Ingo Walter
In 1933 and 1956, the United States sharply limited the kinds of securities, commercial, and insurance activities banks could engage in. These regulations remain in place despite profound changes in the economic environment, in the structure of the national and international financial markets, and in technology. This book evaluates the case for and against eliminating these barriers. The authors study the consequences of bank regulation in the US as it relates to competition in international financial markets. They examine universal banking systems in other countries, especially Germany, Switzerland, and the UK, and how they work. They then apply the lessons to US banking, paying particular attention to the benchmarks of stability, equity, efficiency, and competitiveness against which the performance of national financial systems should be measured. They propose a level playing field on which any number of forms of organization can grow in the financial services sector, in which universal banking is one of the permitted structures, and where regulation is linked to function.