Commercial and financial services
Title: Commercial and financial services
Citation: Youssef CASSIS, Andrea COLLI and Harm G. SCHRÖTER (eds), The performance of European business in the Twentieth century, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2016 pp. 256-276
This chapter deals with the performance of commercial and financial services in Europe. Companies in both sectors have undergone considerable concentration in all analysed countries, but those from Great Britain, Germany, and France emerged as the largest companies in Europe from the early twentieth century onwards. Most impressive, however, has been the expansion of the size and business of banks. The ‘financialization’ of the global economy has resulted in much larger companies, not only in the three leading European economies, but also in the smaller countries. Return on equity was overall higher and more stable for banks than commercial companies. Only in the early 1970s did the latter perform on average better than the former. In the late 1920s and at the turn of the twenty-first century, banks performed considerably better than commercial companies.
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