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An even brighter future

There can be few industries that have changed as much this decade as banking. And there will be few that will change as much over the next decade.

Euromoney covers commercial banking, in one form of another, most months. But the fundamental shift the world's banking industry is undergoing is so important (and often so imperceptible) that only a full examination of its ramifications can do the subject justice. That is why this entire issue is devoted to the subject of banking. What are banks for? Is lending dead? Where will the trend, through jumbo mergers, to ever-larger banks end? Will technology change the very nature of banks? Should banks be in the securities business? These are some of the questions this issue tackles.

The 1990s have been a period of astonishing (and almost unpredicted) success for banks. Think back to the start of the decade. Banks in Europe and the US had only recently emerged from the dark period of the Latin American debt crisis. They were still experiencing the fallout from the real-estate bubble of the late 1980s. Several top US banks, it was said, were technically insolvent. Citibank's share price fell to below $5 (recently it rose to as high as $140) Few banks were very profitable: 15% was considered an exceptional return on equity.

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