Working paper

Mapping banking centres globally since 1970

Publishing date
12 July 2022

Brexit and the rise of China as a leading international economic power have revived discussions about the geography of banking centres. This paper analyses the geographical evolution of banking centres since the 1970s, based on a database constructed from a ranking of the top banks in the world created by The Banker magazine, a UK-based monthly publication specialised in international financial affairs. We describe both how the database was created and the ways in which it can be used to inform policy on money and capital markets. We address why the data can be used to proxy the size of International Financial Centres (IFCs) and the methodological limitations it may present. We find that banking consolidations and the evolution of the legal framework are more central to the changing geography of banking centres than economic and financial crises. We also highlight that, despite major shifts in global economic power, leading banking centres are hard to replace.

The authors are grateful to Catarina Martins and Felipe Antileo for excellent research assistance, as well as Thibaud Giddey and Bruegel colleagues for comments.

Recommended citation:
Mourlon-Druol, E. and A. Cameron (2022) ‘Mapping banking centres globally since 1970’, Working Paper 12/2022, Bruegel

About the authors

  • Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol

    Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol was a Visiting fellow at Bruegel in 2015 and he is now a Non-resident fellow. He is Professor of History of European Cooperation and Integration at the European University Institute in Florence. His research focuses on European economic and monetary cooperation since 1945, sovereign debt crises and global governance. He is Principal Investigator of the project “EURECON: The Making of a Lopsided Union – Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992” funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

    Prior to joining the EUI, Emmanuel was Professor of International Economic History at the University of Glasgow. Emmanuel held several visiting appointments at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2015-2019), the University of Economics in Prague (2015) and the University of Tokyo (2020). He is the author of A Europe Made of Money: the Emergence of the European Monetary System (Cornell University Press, 2012) and co-editor of International Summitry and Global Governance: the Rise of the G-7 and the European Council, 1974-1991 (with Federico Romero, Routledge 2014). His work has appeared in Business History, Cold War History, Contemporary European History, Diplomacy & Statecraft, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, and West European Politics, among others. You can find more information on his personal website.

  • Aliénor Cameron

    Aliénor worked at Bruegel as a Research Assistant Intern. She holds an Undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from Sciences Po Paris and is currently working towards her Master’s degree in International Economic Policy, with minors in environmental policy and quantitative methods. She is expected to graduate from Sciences Po Paris in 2021.

    Before joining Bruegel, Aliénor worked as a Research Assistant for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at the Paris School of Economics. In this role, she worked on a project which studied the effects of trade openness in developing countries on local populations’ access to highly processed foods and the resulting health implications.

    Aliénor also worked for Le Cercle des Economistes as a project manager, and was in charge of writing the think tank’s annual position paper. Before that, she interned at Regulatory Economics Group, a consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area specialized in energy economics and regulation.

    Aliénor is a dual French and American citizen and is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

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