The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper assesses the degree of banking competition and efficiency in Italy?over time as well as compared to that in other countries, such as France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The paper finds competition in the Italian banking sector has intensified in loan and deposit markets in recent years, but banks still operate in a highcost, high-income system, particularly with respect to retail/services, and efficiency gains have yet to fully materialize. The degree of competition falls within the range of estimates for a set of comparator countries. Greater contestability should act as a powerful force to drive banks to become more competitive and efficient. Competition policy will also continue to be an important consideration, both in enforcing Italy's antitrust laws and in ensuring that the procedures for dealing with weak banks and other merger and acquisition reviews focus on stability and competition objectives.