Italian Banks Outperform Peers

Because of their conservative business models, Italy's banks have done better than larger continental rivals over the past 18 months
A general view of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele on July 31, 2008 in Milan, Italy. Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

European banks will be happy to put 2008 behind them. From the $48 billion in writedowns suffered by Swiss financial giant UBS (UBS) to the €4.9 billion ($6.3 billion) trading scandal that rocked France's Société Générale (SOGN.PA), the Old World's banking sector has been at the center of the global financial crisis this year. Indeed, European financial institutions have booked $1.2 trillion in mark-to-market losses since the credit crunch began—not far short of the $1.6 trillion loss recorded by U.S. banks, according to the biannual Financial Stability Report from the Bank of England.

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