The Importance of Borders for Swiss Banks. Some Lessons from Economic history

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The economic consequences of a political frontier are many and not all have been adequately explored. For a long time the political and administrative boundaries have, in fact, been considered one of the main sources of costs related to trade. Instead, the study of banking systems in border regions has probably received less attention so far, maybe due to the fragmented nature of available data, which makes it difficult to assess the border effect on the credit framework of these geographic areas. These few notes are intended to provide some insight into this topic, suggesting the impossibility of formulating a general theory on the banking systems along the frontier, which are, instead, more affected by the several variables that contribute to differentiate the individual border regions from each other. In this perspective, the Swiss case is particularly significant in that it is in conflict with the traditional thesis, which argues that frontier regions are sites of penalisation. By comparing three different border areas – Geneva, Basel and especially Ticino, due to its gravitating towards an external economic pole, the Milanese one – the paper highlights the fragility inherent in the economies along the boundaries, but also the strong potential provided by deeper cross-border integration, as historical experience clearly demonstrates, and as the current framework seems to make more and more necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-229
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Swiss banks


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