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This article explores what the financial crisis shows about changes in the German and French banking systems, the two largest in continental Europe. In particular, we highlight processes of financialization – defined here as the increased trading of risk. We focus on an apparent contradiction: why did the supposedly more protectionist and conservative German banking system suffer much higher losses than the more liberalized French system? This article also examines the responses of German and French banks and governments to the crisis and speculates how far these responses might limit future financialization and shape national banking systems.
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