Universal Banking in the United States: What Could We Gain? What Could We Lose?

By Anthony Saunders; Ingo Walter | Go to book overview

2
Measures of Competitive
Performance in Global
Financial Markets

What is the evidence regarding loss of competitiveness, if any, and how defensible is it -- both with respect to the performance of U.S. financial firms internationally and of foreign-based financial firms in the United States. In this chapter we survey various measures of relative competitive performance widely used in the financial services industry, and make an assessment of how U.S. financial institutions stack up against these competitive benchmarks when compared with those based in countries with fewer activity constraints. How have U.S. financial firms fared in this environment? We consider as well the implications of any competitive shortfalls in the U.S. financial services industry for national economic performance, more broadly defined. This is important because the financial services sector produces both final services (used by consumers) and intermediate services (used by producers in generating further output).

Efficiency shortfalls in providing financial services are important because competitive distortions, whether domestic or international, cause an erosion of consumer welfare (consumer surplus). Efficiency shortfalls in intermediate services are important because they erode competitive capacity and shareholder returns (producer surplus) in industries that use financial services -- which essentially comprise all other firms in the national economy. Competitive conditions in the steel industry, for example, have obvious implications for steel-using sectors like automobiles. A financial sector that is "overregulated" can thus cause simultaneous damage to economic efficiency, growth, income distribution, and the international competitiveness of the economic system as a whole. Consequently, in addition to the

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