Abstract and Keywords
The past forty years has witnessed a near total transformation of the US banking industry, as well as a near total disaster. The bank regulatory framework established during the Great Depression was dismantled, new technologies revolutionized how banks produce and distribute financial services, and dramatic increases in competition have pressured banks to operate more efficiently. The population of commercial banks has been halved by a wave of acquisitions and the largest banks have increased ten-fold in size. A strategic dichotomy has emerged, with small ‘community’ banks providing person-to-person retail and small business banking services, and large commercial banks providing high-volume retail banking services in domestic markets and corporate and investment banking services around the world. These changes have brought great efficiencies to the banking industry and its customers, but have also introduced new instabilities to the system. A decade of historically high profits was followed by large investment losses and government bailouts during the financial crisis of 2008–9. A partial re-regulation of the industry has followed, and both bankers and policymakers seek to balance market efficiencies with financial stability as this dynamic industry moves further into the twenty-first century.
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