Introduction: Transformation of the Banking and Financial Environment
In recent years a spate of innovations has brought about a radical and profound transformation in the banking and financial environment. ‘Globalisation’ is the term commonly used to qualify this development which has taken place chiefly in the US and in the UK. However, this word masks a complex reality. In literal terms, first and foremost, it alludes to the spread of financial operations around the globe, i.e. the integration of the financial markets on a worldwide scale. Second, it also includes the idea that new, and frequently, non-banking institutions are engaging in financial activities. Third, it implies a considerable increase in the number and types of instruments and a diversification in the services they are expected to provide. Finally — but this is probably not the last acceptation of the term — ‘globalisation’ refers to the nature of the relations between lenders and borrowers which have become very much closer and more varied with the expansion of the off-balance-sheet bank business.
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