Are Universal Banks Bad for Financial Stability? Germany During the World Financial Crisis

Posted: 31 Oct 2011

See all articles by Diemo Dietrich

Diemo Dietrich

Newcastle University Business School

Uwe Vollmer

University of Leipzig

Date Written: October 31, 2011


This case study explores the contribution of universal banking to financial stability in Germany during the recent financial crisis. Germany is a prototype for universal banking and has suffered from a rather small number of banking crises in the past. We review the banking literature and analyze the major institutional and regulatory features of the German financial system to establish a nexus between universal banking and stability. We focus on the following questions. First, which banks failed and did they because they were universal or because of other reasons? Second, which types of distress beside outright bank failures resulted from the crisis and how did German universal banks dealt with them? We show that only few German banks failed and these banks did so not because they were universal banks but because they were publicly owned. Most banks instead contributed to reduce the impact of the recent crisis.

Keywords: universal banking, Germany, banking crises

JEL Classification: G21, G24, G31

Suggested Citation

Dietrich, Diemo and Vollmer, Uwe, Are Universal Banks Bad for Financial Stability? Germany During the World Financial Crisis (October 31, 2011). Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Diemo Dietrich (Contact Author)

Newcastle University Business School ( email )

5 Barrack Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, NE1 4SE
United Kingdom


Uwe Vollmer

University of Leipzig ( email )

Marschnerstrasse 31
D-04109 Leipzig, 04109

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