Deregulation, consolidation and diversification of the Italian banking system - Starting from the early nineties, the Italian banking system has undergone a deep process of deregulation, consolidation and diversification. The deregulation process has enabled Italian banks to enter new - geographical and product - markets. The single European market has introduced a competitive challenge from abroad. The concentration process may be explained on several grounds. Smaller banks have aimed at reaching a more efficient scale of production. Deals involving banks located in Northern and Southern Italy had a prudential rationale, given the weakness of Southern banks. Large banks have presumably pursued a defensive strategy, due to the threat of take-overs from abroad. An important role has been played by the moral suasion exerted by the Bank of Italy. Deregulation and consolidation have come along together with an increase of the competitive pressure, as shown by the decline of interest rate margins. Banks have reacted by diversifying their business, in order to expand their sources of revenue and to create switching costs for their customers (by selling bundles of services). Keywords: banks, deregulation, consolidation, competition Parole chiave: banche, liberalizzazione, concentrazione, concorrenza Jel Classification: G21 - L89
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