The papers review and assess the most current international tendencies in the development of banking sectors. In the light of the international evidences we analyse the most recent developments in the Hungarian banking sector and also draw conclusions on the expected path of its future development. From different angle, but all the papers look for answers on the same questions. That is, at the time of joining the EU what the characteristics and prospects of the Hungarian banking sector will be. To what extent Hungarian banks will be competitive enough on the unified market of EU and what progresses are needed to reach this level of competitiveness. The seven individual papers are interrelated and substitute each other. They cover the following issues: changes in the role of banks in financial intermediation; challenges in the regulation of banks; international and domestic trends in corporate and household finance; new directions in credit risk management; international and domestic tendencies in bank profitability; recent changes in the structure of financial intermediation.

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