Von Ralf Keuper
Hin und wieder überkommt einen das Gefühl, als würde sich die Geschichte doch wiederholen; wie in dem vorliegenden Fall.
Im Februar 1930 erschien in The Atlantic der Beitrag The Revolution in Banking Theory. Darin wurden drei Trends benannt, die das Banking zu dem Zeitpunkt zu verändern begannen.
1. The failure during the past eight years of 4925 banks out of a total of 30,812 in operation on June 30, 1921, has called into question the soundness of the system. …
2. In spite of the prohibition of branch banking by national statute and by laws in most states, over six thousand banks in the United States are in no sense independent unit banks, but are grouped in chains by holding companies, corporations, partnerships, or individuals. …
3. Finally, there is the movement toward bank mergers, presaging a new financial era. In the last eight years, the number of banks has been reduced by almost five thousand. …
Der Beitrag zog das Zwischenfazit:
Summarizing the three movements: we are faced with a banking weakness, as shown by the large number of failures; there is a tendency toward unification of the banking system by chain and group banking, thus circumventing the restrictions on branch banking; and the same tendency is working by means of mergers. These movements are related, and primarily have their inception in the integration that is taking place in business and industry and is creating a new economic era.
Damals hinkten die Banken der Entwicklung in den anderen Teilen der Wirtschaft hinterher:
The banks of the country have lagged behind industry in aligning themselves with the new order. The local store is only a distributing office of a vast national system of chain stores. It is in charge of a manager who receives the produce and sees that it is sold, but one who does not buy or secure credit, and who is not in any way active in the financing of the company. To be sure, he deposits his daily receipts in the local bank, but the transfer from the local bank to the central institution is of such short duration that this checking account, in common with a large number of other small checking accounts, is a loss to the bank rather than an asset. Certainly the bank has lost the opportunity it had with the independent merchant to deal with his substantial checking account, to take care of a part of his money in a savings account, and to finance him with loans. Instead of dealing with a local, independent business man, the bank is now dealing with a transient, promotion-seeking manager.
Der Kapitalbedarf der großen Handels- und Industrieunternehmen überstieg die Möglichkeiten selbst der größten Banken:
This change in merchandising has had its effect on banks in the metropolitan cities, which have been forced to expand their capitalization in order to supply credit to these new clients whose annual business runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The legal loaning capacity to any one client is 10 per cent of the bank’s capital and surplus. When there were developed such businesses as Woolworth’s with $287,000,000 sales annually, or Sears, Roebuck, with $347,000,000 sales, or the Goodyear Tire Company with $233,000,000 sales, or hundreds of other organizations with annual sales running well into nine figures, even the largest bank in America, with its capital and surplus of $75,000,000 in 1927, was able to lend only $7,500,000 to any one of these clients.
Die Entstehung von Bank-Holdings, die in mehreren Staaten ihren Geschäften nachgehen konnten, stellte die Regulierung vor ganz neue Herausforderungen:
The banks themselves come under varying examination systems—some by one state, some by another, and a third group by the federal bank examiner. It becomes relatively easy to shift doubtful paper from one bank to another, until it will finally secure lodgment in the bank with the most lenient supervision. It is made increasingly easy, moreover, to shift the bank’s assets, to use the funds for non-banking purposes, or to centralize them for the development of some business of major interest to the holding company.
Es sei unübersehbar, dass sich ein tiefgreifender Wandel im US-amerikanischen Bankensystem vollzogen habe:
A change in the United States banking system seems imminent. It is not improbable that, if the prejudices against branch banking continue to dominate legislation, a system of banking under a few large holding companies will develop, which will be to all intents and purposes outside either the state or the federal banking system, which will supply the economic need of branch banking, and which will have none of its public safeguards.
Die Entwicklung in den Jahrzehnten danach hat auch in den USA nicht dazu geführt, dass Regionalbanken und Bankfilialen von der Bildfläche verschwanden. Die Konzentration hat allerdings, nicht zuletzt nach der jüngsten Finanzkrise, zugenommen. In Deutschland ist die Zahl der Bankfilialen seit Jahren rückläufig, Fusionen von Sparkassen und Genossenschaftsbanken sind an der Tagesordnung. Mit dem Internet, der Vernetzung und der Mobilität ist der Bedarf für persönliche Kontakte zu einer Bank vor Ort drastisch gesunken. Im Hintergrund haben große digitale Plattformen oder Holdings weite Teile des Bankings an sich gezogen oder sind dabei. Neue Technologien, wie die Blockchain und digitale Währungen setzen die Banken von der anderen Seite unter Druck. Die Daten- und Plattformökonomie bilden den Beginn einer neuen Ära.