Year of publication
- The convergence of financial systems in Europe (2001)
- Since the beginning of the 1990s, it has been widely expected that the implementation of the European Single Market would lead to a rapid convergence of Europe’s financial systems. In the present paper we will show that at least in the period prior to the introduction of the common currency this expected convergence did not materialise. Our empirical studies on the significance of various institutions within the financial sectors, on the financing patterns of firms in various countries and on the predominant mechanisms of corporate governance, which are summarised and placed in a broader context in this paper, point to few, if any, signs of a convergence at a fundamental or structural level between the German, British and French financial systems. The German financial system continues to appear to be bank-dominated, while the British system still appears to be capital market-dominated. During the period covered by the research, i.e. 1980 – 1998, the French system underwent the most far-reaching changes, and today it is difficult to classify. In our opinion, these findings can be attributed to the effects of strong path dependencies, which are in turn an outgrowth of relationships of complementarity between the individual system components. Projecting what we have observed into the future, the results of our research indicate that one of two alternative paths of development is most likely to materialise: either the differences between the national financial systems will persist, or – possibly as a result of systemic crises – one financial system type will become the dominant model internationally. And if this second path emerges, the Anglo-American, capital market-dominated system could turn out to be the “winner”, because it is better able to withstand and weather crises, but not necessarily because it is more efficient.
- Finanzsystem und Komplementarität (2000)
- Wenn man untersuchen möchte, ob sich die Finanzsysteme verschiedener Länder im Verlauf der letzten Jahre aneinander angeglichen haben oder demnächst angleichen werden, braucht man ein Konzept zur Beschreibung von Finanzsystemen, durch das wesentliche Strukturen, deren Unterschiede und Veränderungen erkennbar werden, ohne dabei in "Systemgeschwafel" (D. Schneider) abzugleiten. Wir haben dafür das Konzept der Komplementarität als nützlich identifiziert. Der Beitrag stellt dieses Konzept vor und soll und seine Eignung belegen. Letztlich geht es dabei auch um die Frage, ob reale Finanzsysteme konsistente Systeme mit komplementären Elementen darstellen. Nach der Vorstellung der formalen Konzepte der Komplementarität und der Konsistenz wird "das Finanzsystem" auf seine Komple mentarität untersucht. Dazu wird ein Finanzsystem aus der Sicht von Unternehmen des nichtfinanziellen Sektors als ein System gekennzeichnet, das aus drei Teilsystemen besteht. Das erste Teilsystem ist das Finanzierungssystem einschließlich Finanzsektor und Mustern der Unternehmensfinanzierung, das zweite das Corporate Governance-System und das dritte das Unternehmens-Strategie-System. Für alle drei Teilsysteme wird – allgemein und mit Bezug auf die Finanzsysteme Deutschlands, Japans und der USA - gezeigt, inwieweit die Elemente der betreffenden Teilsysteme untereinander komplementär sind, und geprüft, ob sie in ihren Ausprägungen auch konsistent sind, d.h. wirklich "zueinander passen". Untersucht wird auch die Komplementarität und Konsistenz zwischen den Teilsystemen selbst. Der Beitrag endet mit Überlegungen über die Anwendung des Komplementaritätskonzepts. Dass ein Finanzsystem die Eigenschaft der Komplementarität aufweist, hat nicht nur weitreichende Implikationen für die Methodik der Analyse von Finanzsystemen, sondern auch für die Vorhersehbarkeit der Entwicklung von Finanzsystemen und damit für die Wahrscheinlichkeit einer Konvergenz von Finanzsystemen, für deren Effizienzeigenschaften und für die Möglichkeiten, Finanzsysteme durch gestaltende Eingriffe zu verbessern.
- Disintermediation and the role of banks in Europe : an international comparison ; paper prepared for the Symposium on "The Design of Financial Systems and Markets" at the University of Amsterdam, June 1998 (1998)
- The paper presents an empirical analysis of the alledged transformation of the financial systems in the three major European economies, France, Germany and the UK. Based on a unified data set developed on the basis of national accounts statistics, and employing a new and consistent method of measurement, the following questions are addressed: Is there a common pattern of structural change; do banks lose importance in the process of change; and are the three financial systems becoming more similar? We find that there is neither a general trend towards disintermediation, nor towards a transformation from bank-based to capital market-based financial systems, nor for a loss of importance of banks. Only in the case of France strong signs of transformation as well as signs of a general decline in the role of banks could be found. Thus the three financial systems also do not seem to become more similar. However, there is also a common pattern of change: the intermediation chains are lengthening in all three countries. Nonbank financial intermediaries are taking over a more important role as mobilizers of capital from the non-financial sectors. In combination with the trend towards securitization of bank liabilites, this change increases the funding costs of banks and may put banks under pressure. In the case of France, this change is so pronounced that it might even threaten the stability of the financial system.
- Share buy-backs in Germany overreaction to weak signals? : [Version: Dec. 2003] (2003)
- This paper investigates the magnitude and the main determinants of share price reactions to buy-back announcements of German corporations. Based on a sample of 224 announcements from the period May 1998 to April 2003 we find average cumulative abnormal returns around -7.5% for the thirty days preceding the announcement and around +7.0 % for the ten days following the announcement. We regress postannouncement abnormal returns with multiple firm characteristics and provide evidence which supports the undervaluation signaling hypothesis but not the excess cash hypothesis. In extending prior empirical work, we also analyze price effects from an initial statement by management that it intends to seek shareholder approval for a buy-back plan. Observed cumulative abnormal returns on this initial date are in excess of 5% implying a total average price effect between 12% and 15% from implementing a buy-back plan. We conjecture that the German regulatory environment is the main reason why market variations to buy-back announcements are much stronger in Germany than in other countries and conclude that initial statements by managers to seek shareholders’ approval for a buy-back plan should also be subject to legal ad-hoc disclosure requirements. EFM classification: 330, 350
- Banks and German corporate governance : on the way to a capital market-based system? (2005)
- The German corporate governance system has long been cited as the standard example of an insider-controlled and stakeholder-oriented system. We argue that despite important reforms and substantial changes of individual elements of the German corporate governance system the main characteristics of the traditional German system as a whole are still in place. However, in our opinion the changing role of the big universal banks in the governance undermines the stability of the corporate governance system in Germany. Therefore a breakdown of the traditional system leading to a control vacuum or a fundamental change to a capital market-based system could be in the offing.
- Structural change in the German banking system? (2005)
- This paper starts out by pointing out the challenges and weaknesses which the German banking systems faces according to the prevailing views among national and international observers. These challenges include a generalproblem of profitability and, possibly as its main reason, the strong role of public banks. These concerns raise the questions whether the facts support this assessment of a general profitability problem and whether there are reasons to expect a fundamental or structural transformation of the German banking system. The paper contains four sections. The first one presents the evidence concerning the profitability problem in a comparative, international perspective. The second section presents information about the so-called three-pillar system of German banking. What might be surprising in this context is that the group of pub lic banks is not only the largest segment of the German banking system, but that the primary savings banks also are its financially most successful part. The German banking system is highly fragmented. This fact suggests to discuss past, present and possible future consolidations in the banking system in the third section. The authors provide evidence to the effect that within- group consolidation has been going on at a rapid pace in the public and the cooperative banking groups in recent years and that this development has not yet come to an end, while within-group consolidation among the large private banks, consolidation across group boundaries at a national level and cross-border or international consolidation has so far only happened at a limited scale, and do not appear to gain momentum in the near future. In the last section, the authors develop their explanation for the fact that large-scale and cross border consolidation has so far not materialized to any great extent. Drawing on the concept of complementarity, they argue that it would be difficult to expect these kinds of mergers and acquisitions happening within a financial system which is itself surprisingly stable, or, as one cal also call it, resistant to change.
- German banks - a declining industry? (2003)
- This paper is a draft for the chapter "German banks and banking structure" of the forthcoming book "The German financial system" edited by J.P. Krahnen and R.H. Schmidt (Oxford University Press). As such, the paper starts out with a description of past and present structural features of the German banking industry. Given the presented empirical evidence it then argues that great care has to be taken when generalising structural trends from one financial system to another. Whilst conventional commercial banking is clearly in decline in the US, it is far from clear whether the dominance of banks in the German financial system has been significantly eroded over the last decades. We interpret the immense stability in intermediation ratios and financing patterns of firms between 1970 and 2000 as strong evidence for our view that the way in which and the extent to which German banks fulfil the central functions for the financial system are still consistent with the overall logic of the German financial system. In spite of the current dire business environment for financial intermediaries we do not expect the German financial system and its banking industry as an integral part of this system to converge to the institutional arrangements typical for a market-oriented financial system. First version October 2002. This version March 2003.
- How unique are US banks? : the role of banks in five major financial systems (2000)
- Initiated by the seminal work of Diamond/Dybvig (1983) and Diamond (1984), advances in the theory of financial intermediation have sharpened our understanding of the theoretical foundations of banks as special financial institutions. What makes them "unique" is the combination of accepting deposits and issuing loans. However, in recent years the notion of "disintermediation" has gained tremendous popularity, especially among American observers. These observers argue that deregulation, globalisation and advances in information technology have been eroding the role of banks as intermediaries and thus their alleged uniqueness. It is even assumed that ever more efficiently organised capital markets and specialised financial institutions that take advantage of these markets, such as mutual funds or finance companies, will lead to the demise of banks. Using a novel measurement concept based on intermediation and securitisation ratios, the present article provides evidence which shows that banking disintermediation is indeed a reality for the US financial system. This seems to indicate that American banks are not all that "unique"; they can be replaced to a considerable extent. Moreover, many observers seem to believe that what has happened in the US reflects a universal trend. However, empirical results reported in this paper indicate that such a trend has not manifested itself in other financial systems, and in particular, not in Germany or Japan. Evidence on the enormous structural differences between financial systems and the lack of unequivocal signs of convergence render any inferences from the American experience to other financial systems very problematic.
- Signaling power of open market share repurchases in Germany (2005)
- This paper shows that abnormal stock price returns around open market repurchase announcements are about four times higher in Germany than in the US (12% versus 3%). We hypothesize that this observation can be explained by country differences in repurchase regulation. Our empirical evidence indicates that German managers primarily buy back shares to signal an undervaluation of their firm. We demonstrate that the stringent repurchase process prescribed by German law attributes a higher credibility to such a signal than lax US regulations and thereby corroborate our hypothesis.
- Share buy-backs in Germany overreaction to weak signals? : [Version April 2004] (2004)
- This paper investigates the magnitude and the main determinants of share price reactions to buy-back announcements of German corporations. For our comprehensive sample of 224 announcements that took place between May 1998 and April 2003 we find average cumulative abnormal returns around -7.5% for the thirty days preceding the announcement and around +7.0 % for the ten days following the announcement. We regress post-announcement abnormal returns with multiple firm characteristics and provide evidence which supports the undervaluation signaling hypothesis but not the excess cash hypothesis or the tax-efficiency hypothesis. In extending prior empirical work, we also analyze price effects from initial statements of firms that they intend to seek shareholder approval for a buy-back plan. Observed cumulative abnormal returns on this initial date are in excess of 5% implying a total average price effect between 12% and 15% from implementing a buy-back plan. We conjecture that the German regulatory environment is the main reason why market variations to buy-back announcements are much stronger in Germany than in other countries and conclude that initial statements by managers to seek shareholders’ approval for a buy-back plan should also be subject to legal ad-hoc disclosure requirements.