This book offers a comprehensive overview of the financial systems of major industrialized countries using the statistical framework of the financial accounts. After a discussion of how economists agreed to create a framework to monitor the financial linkages between surplus and deficit sectors, the book analyzes in detail the composition and the recent evolution of financial assets and liabilities for households (including public pension rights), firms and intermediaries. Next, the volume studies the convergence patterns of financial structures and their influence on the effectiveness of monetary policy within European countries. The final chapter unifies the previous pictures, showing how the effects of financial integration and global imbalances could have been foreseen based on the financial accounts. The analysis and information contained in the book will help the readers to understand many issues and challenges raised by the recent financial crisis.