Public Banks in the Age of Financialization
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Public Banks in the Age of Financialization

A Comparative Perspective

Edited by Christoph Scherrer

This book asks the important question of whether public banks are a better alternative to profit-seeking private banks. Do public banks provide finance for development? Do they serve as stability anchors in financial markets? What kind of governance keeps public banks accountable to the public? Theoretically the book draws on the works of Minsky for the question on stability and on interpretative policy analysis for the issue of governance. It compares empirically three countries with significant public banks: Brazil, Germany, and India.
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Chapter 9: Savings banks and Landesbanken in the German political economy: The long struggle between private and public banks

Daniel Seikel


The author highlights the political vulnerability of public banks with the example of German public banks. He introduces the reader to the traditional structure of the German banking system, the role of the public banks therein, and the relevance of this structure for the German production regime. He then traces the conflict between private and public banks as the latter increasingly competed for the same business. The conflict stalemated in the national arena until the European Single Market project was launched. This offered the private banks the opportunity to bypass the strong opposition in Germany. As European competition law presumes that all actors act like profit-maximizing private investors, the state liability guarantee for German public banks was considered to be an unfair competitive advantage. Under the dictates of the European Commission, this guarantee had to be withdrawn by the year 2005.

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