In this paper, we use sixteen financial indices from the World Bank's Financial Development and Structure database, to classify the OECD countries, according to their financial system structure, in five relatively homogenous clusters for the 1996-2005 period. We also examine the changes in their financial systems for the 1986-2005 period. Our analysis is based on the ‘agglomerative method', a form of hierarchical clustering that uses Ward's methodology, to identify relatively homogenous groups of countries. The findings are surprising, yet reasonable. After two decades of deregulation, liberalization and globalization, the financial systems of the OECD countries not only differ in ways challenging the perceived wisdom that classifies them along the bank-based vs. capital-market-based norms, but additionally do not seem to converge to the second norm as is widely believed. These results warn against oversimplifications regarding financial system structure and the uncritical acceptance of policy recommendations based on them.
• JEL Classification: G10, G20