- 2000, 10
Frankfurt - an emerging international financial centre
Michael H. Grote
- Characterised as the mighty capital of the eurozone (Sassen 1999, 83), Frankfurt is said to be a rising world city primarily due to its financial centre. This is reflected in the use of such common catchphrases as Bankfurt and Mainhattan for the city, as well as its reference in scientific publications. As Ronneberger and Keil (1995, 305) state, for instance, a service economy [...] mastered by the finance sector forms the basis for the continuing integration of Frankfurt into the international market. Frankfurt is the most important German as well as European financial centres. Thirteen of the 30 largest German banks and about two thirds of Germany s foreign banks are seated here. Frankfurt s stock exchange (ranked 4th in the world) is by far the biggest in Germany with a turnover-share of more than 80%. Its derivatives exchange (Eurex) aims to become the biggest in the world. As the host city for the European Central Bank, it is also the centre of European monetary policy. As a major node in the global financial network today, Frankfurt s specific functions within this network will be investigated in this paper. Unlike most other predominant national financial centres, Frankfurt has not continuously held this position in Germany s since the middle ages: It re-gained it s position from Berlin only after World War II. In contrast to the static phenomenon financial centre which is well covered in the literature emergence and development of financial centres is not as well understood. The study of the development of the financial centre Frankfurt after World War II gives insights into the dynamics of the self-reinforcing mechanisms within financial centres; the second topic covered in the paper. The paper is organised as follows: the remainder of this chapter looks at the method used in this study and the theory of financial centres with an emphasis on the basic approaches to the emergence of financial centres. After that it is asked whether Frankfurt meets the basic requirements for the concept of path dependence, i.e. that there are self-reinforcing mechanisms. After a positive answer to that, the development of Frankfurt as a financial centre is discussed as well as its role as a node in the world (financial) system today in chapter two. Chapter three provides some more or less speculative remarks about Frankfurt s future; the last chapter briefly summarises the findings of the paper.