Modern Banking

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1.1. Introduction1
The term ‘‘banking’’ can be applied to a large range of financial institutions, from savings and loans organisations to the large money-centre commercial banks in the USA, or from the smallest mutually owned building society to the ‘‘big four’’ shareholder owned banks in the UK. Many European countries have large regional/cooperative banks in addition to three to five universal banks. In Japan, the bank with the largest retail network is Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation,2 but its main rival for savings deposits is the Post Office. The objective of this chapter is to provide an overview of banking and the role played by banks in an increasingly complex financial world.
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Market structure is also important: the greater the competition for loans and deposits, the more narrow the interest margin. Intermediation costs will also include the cost of administration and other transactions costs related to the savings and loans products offered by the bank. Unlike individual agents, where the cost of finding a potential lender or borrower is very high, a bank may be able to achieve scale economies in these transactions costs; that is, given the large number of savings and deposit products offered, the related transactions costs are either constant or falling. Unlike the individual lender, the bank enjoys information economies of scope in lending decisions because of access to privileged information on current and potential borrowers with accounts at the bank. It is normally not possible to bundle up and sell this information, so banks use it internally to increase the size of their loan portfolio. Thus, compared to depositors trying to lend funds directly, banks can pool a portfolio of assets with less risk of default, for a given expected return. Provided a bank can act as intermediary at the lowest possible cost, there will be a demand for its services. For example, some banks have lost out on lending to highly rated corporations because these firms find they can raise funds more cheaply by issuing bonds. Nonetheless, even the most highly rated
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