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The Performance of European Business in the Twentieth Century$
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Youssef Cassis, Andrea Colli, and Harm Schröter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198749776.001.0001

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Commercial and Financial Services

Commercial and Financial Services

(p.256) 14 Commercial and Financial Services
The Performance of European Business in the Twentieth Century

Mats Larsson

Edoardo Altamura

Youssef Cassis

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   services, commercial companies, banks, concentration, financialization, return on equity

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