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Submitted by Martin Cihak on
What is the “private banking” that Charles Calomiris and others are talking about? I am afraid that the distinction between state-owned and privately-owned banks has become blurred a long time ago, and it has become even more artificial during the crisis. There is no denying that finance is a sector with heavy state involvement. It was the case before the crisis, and is even more so now. State affects the financial sector in a number of ways, not only as a direct owner, but as provider of various guarantees, safety nets, liquidity support and other support mechanisms, as regulator and supervisor, and as provider of a range of critical financial infrastructures. The “too big to fail” policy has contributed to the blurring of the dividing lines between “state” and “private” banking. Unfortunately, the TBTF policy has been interpreted so extensively in many countries that even small “privately-owned” banks are considered “small but to save”. So, when we say “privately-owned” banks and when we compare them with “state-owned” ones, which privately-owned banks do we really have in mind?