When looking at the Spanish banking market through a German lens, the differences between the banking markets in these countries and between decentralised and centralised systems with regard to the SME-credit decision-making process become obvious. Despite our hypotheses that Spanish savings banks were similar to German savings banks until the crisis, or at least until liberalisation and before the break-up of the regional principle, we came to the conclusion that they were never as significant as savings banks in Germany, at least not for SME finance. Notwithstanding recent initiatives to create a common European market and to integrate diverse national banking systems, the European financial system remains spatially complex and uneven, particularly with respect to the degree of geographical concentration. Whereas decentralisation increased in Germany, especially during the financial crisis, the rather decentralised Spanish banking system has become more and more centralised. This development has tended to fuel the financial crisis even further in Spain. In Spain, however, whereas most savings banks, which already operated nationally, were finally privatised due to their heavy losses in the crisis, regional savings banks in Germany further increased their market share in firm financing.
comparing banking systems SME finance in Germany SME finance in Spain savings and cooperative banks decentralised vs. centralised banking