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News Summary: ECB says bank system smaller

The Associated Press

SHRINKING SYSTEM: The banking system for the 17 countries that use the euro has shrunk since the global financial crisis hit more than five years ago, and loans make up a smaller part of the sector's business, according to the European Central Bank.

TOUGH TASK: The findings underline some of the problems that European officials face as they try to toughen banking oversight, make their system more resistant to crises and strengthen its ability to support growth by lending to businesses.

KEY TO BUSINESS: Banks are critically important in Europe, more than elsewhere in many cases, because they are the main source of the credit that companies need to do operate. In the United States, companies are less dependent on banks, obtaining credit from investors through the sale of bonds or other debt securities.