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Worlds apart: a public vs private bank debate

The existence of the Sparkassen and Landesbanken is derived from their public mission, but, when everything else is being privatized, why should banks be an exception.

Public view

"The existence of the Sparkassen and Landesbanken is derived from their public mission. Saving banks ensure the nationwide provision of financial services to the whole population, industry and commerce, especially small and medium-size companies. This service is in the interest of the public and therefore needs to be protected." (Bernd Lüthje, secretary general, Association of German Public Banks, VÖB)

Private view

"It is difficult to argue in the 21st century when everything else has been privatized, that banking is an exceptional public service. Why should the provision of financial services be different from the provision of water, gas or electricity, which are essential needs as well?" (Gerry Rawcliffe, head of investment grade credit research, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein)

Public view

"That's missing the point. If the market would not ensure that electricity is provided to the last village, then the state would indeed step in and give out a public mission. That's the raison d'être of the saving banks." (Lüthje, VÖB)

Private view

"Why don't we have a public bakery in every village? The claim of a public mission needs to be substantiated." (Karl-Heinz Boos, member of executive board, Association of German Private Banks, BdB)

Public view

"Our public mission is as topical as it has always been.

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