European monetary system and european currency

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8. When evaluating the functioning of, and the challenges to, banking supervision in the current institutional framework, two aspects should be borne in mind. First, the advent of the euro increases the likelihood of the propagation of financial stability problems across national borders. For this reason a co-ordinated supervisory response is important at an early stage. Second, the sources of banks' risks and stability problems depend on ongoing trends that are not necessarily caused by the euro, but may be significantly accelerated by it. On the whole, we are interested not so much in the effects of EMU or the euro per se, as in the foreseeable developments due to all factors influencing banking in the years to come.

9. It should be noted at the outset that most banking activity, particularly in retail banking, remains confined to national markets. In many Member States the number, and the market share, of banks that operate in a truly nationwide fashion is rather small. Although banks' international operations have increased, credit risks are still predominantly related to domestic clients, and the repercussions of bank failures would be predominantly felt by domestic borrowers and depositors.

10. Assessing the internationalisation of euro area banks is a complex task because internationalisation can take a number of forms. One is via cross-border branches and subsidiaries. Although large-scale entry into foreign banking markets in Europe is still scarce, reflecting persisting legal, cultural and conduct-of-business barriers (less than 10% on average in terms of banking assets in the euro area; Table 1), there are significant exceptions. The assets of the foreign branches and subsidiaries of German and French banks account for roughly a third of the assets of their respective domestic banking systems (Table 2). The Dutch banking system is also strongly diversified internationally.

Another way to spread banking activity beyond national borders is consolidation. Cross-border mergers or acquisitions still seem to be the exception, although things have started to change. The recent wave of "offensive" and "defensive" banking consolidation has mainly developed within national industries, thus significantly increasing concentration, particularly in the smaller countries (Table 3); it may be related not so much to the direct impact of EMU as to globally intensified competition and the need to increase efficiency.

In the coming years internationalisation is likely to increase, because, with the euro, foreign entrants can now fund lending from their domestic retail deposit base or from euro-denominated money and capital markets. The relatively large number of foreign branches and subsidiaries already established could be a sufficient base for an expansion of international banking activity (Table 4) since a single branch, or a small number of branches, may be sufficient to attract customers, especially when they are served through direct banking techniques, such as telephone and Internet banking. Also, the cross-border supply of services on a remote basis is likely to spread as direct banking techniques develop. As to cross-border mergers and acquisitions aimed either at achieving a "critical mass" for wholesale financial markets, or at rapidly acquiring local expertise and customers in the retail sector, they may remain scarce because the cost savings from eliminating overlaps in the retail network are likely to be limited and the managerial costs of integrating different structures and corporate cultures are substantial.

11. However, banks' internationalisation does not provide the full picture of the interconnections of banking systems. As "multi-product" firms, banks operate simultaneously in many markets which have different dimensions: local, national, continental (or European) and global. The advent of the euro is likely to enlarge the market for many banking products and services to the continental dimension; this will "internationalise" even those banks that remain "national" in their branch networks and organisation.

The formation of the single money market in the euro area has largely taken place already. The dispersion in the euro overnight rate across countries, as reported by 57 so-called EONIA banks, fell in January from around 15 to 5 basis points. The variation between banks has been significantly greater than between countries. The TARGET system has rapidly reached the dimension of Fedwire, with a daily average value of payments of E1,000 billion, of which between E300 and E400 are cross-border. The ever stronger interbank and payment system links clearly increase the possibility of financial instability spreading from one country to another. Through these links the failure of a major bank could affect the standing of its counterparties in the entire euro area. On the other hand, the deeper money market could absorb any specific problem more easily than before.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008