Fabio Braggion and Steven Ongena have a post at Vox which looks at corporate leverage and firm-bank relationships in the UK from 1895 to 2009. They document an increase in corporate leverage from c.1970 and a simultaneous increase in firms having multiple relationships with banks. Braggion and Ongena argue that the increase in leverage can be traced to the deregulation of the UK banking system in the early 1970s and the breaking up of the banking cartel. Their working paper is available here.
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of