The financial crisis buffeting global economies since 2008 has left its mark on French savings banks, or Caisses d'épargne. In the late 1990s these Caisses embarked on a successful transformation from stateprotected financial institutions to today’s genuine cooperative banks. By entering the cooperative banking sector and aiming to be a full-services bank, they were able to establish themselves as leaders in the French retail banking market within just a few years. However at the same time they faced strong headwinds from the ongoing financial crisis, and continue to struggle with the problems facing private-sector companies.
We feel that now is a good time to look back at the economic and financial crises that have marked the Caisses’ two centuries of history.In this paper we will show that crises during what is known as the “traditional period”1 have had little impact on France’s savings banks. This is largely because the banks had set up a system and structure to shield them from major economic downturns. However during this period they remained vulnerable to other types of crises, such as political ones. We will also review the Caisses' progress since their transformation, and especially through the global crisis still raging today.
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To cite this article:
(Vincent)(2013): The crisis and the French Savings Banks, ESBG Perspectives n°66, pp. 63-74.