In a recent research note, Morgan Stanley presents an arresting chart on the decline of dividends in Europe. The recent fall in European dividends has been the steepest since the 1930s, the analysts write, driven by plummeting payouts at banks.

Dividends will grow more important for investors, Morgan Stanley claims, for three reasons: a demographic shift boosting demand for income-related strategies; persistently low yields on fixed-income instruments; and a view that stock markets will remain range-bound in the coming years. Against this backdrop, shares that offer high, secure dividends become increasingly attractive. And rare. With banks clinging tightly to their cash, the analysts note that, incredibly, less than 3% of European companies now account for 50% of all dividend payments.