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Has finance become too expensive? An estimation of the unit cost of financial intermediation in Europe, 1951-2007

Guillaume Bazot

Institut des Politiques Publiques from HAL

Abstract: Finance played an increasing important role in European economies, growing from 2.3 per cent of GDP in 1951 to 8.2 per cent in 2007. But since the subprime mortgage crisis, the role and size of finance in our societies has been hotly debated. A key question in the debate is whether recent financial developments justify the accrued importance of finance in our economies and whether, as some propose, regulation should be aimed at reducing its importance. This study proposes a measure of the unit cost of the production of financial services over the long term in Europe, as a way of assessing the efficiency gains in financial services production. The results show that finance has become more "expensive" since the 1970s, just when deregulation was intended to make it more productive. The growth in intermediation costs between 1970 and 1990 can nevertheless be explained by macroeconomic and monetary conditions. By contrast, the increase in unit cost after 1990 coincides with the development of modern finance that gives a greater role to market activity.

Date: 2014-06
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-02527018
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Published in 2014

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