1850, the gold standard and the Bank Charter Act were articles of faith for mainstream economists, and part of the consensus of the mid-Victorian political system. After all, most economic disturbances had arisen from an over-expansion of credit rather than a deflation of commodity prices, and there were grounds for distrust of a 'banking' policy which gave discretion to a private, monopolistic Bank composed of City merchants. The contrast drawn by the anti-bullionists and banking school between productive debtors and parasitical creditors was too neat and schematic; after all, some industrialists were net debtors and some net creditors within the credit matrix; and some landowners were debtors who had borrowed to improve their estates while others had invested in government funds. Political mobilization was hampered because monetary policy did not have an immediate and straightforward economic impact on clearly defined groups, as the anti-bullionists and banking school liked to suggest. Even radical critics of the currency school accepted the Ricardian assumption that monetary policy could not affect the volume of income and employment, and they were suspicious of Attwood's motives. Changes in monetary policy and rising prices would relieve debtors at the expense of creditors, remarked the radical Henry Hetherington, but this was no more than 'a mere transfer of plunder from one set of schemers to another'. 24 Workers would not benefit, he felt, for prices of their purchases would rise faster than their wages, and he did not accept Attwood's argument that the volume of employment would increase. The gold standard and Bank Charter Act was far from a simple pro-City policy: it was part of the social contract of the Victorian, state which offered a rising standard of living to the working class from stable or falling prices.
The stark contrast between Scottish banks facilitating and English banks hindering industrialization does not stand up to close scrutiny. Both English and Scottish banks have been criticized as credit rather than investment banks, which neglected the needs of industry for long-term funds, in contrast to Germany in the late nineteenth century. This is to accept the principles espoused by bankers at face value without asking whether they were implemented in practice. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there was a much closer connection between banks and the local business community than in the late nineteenth century when amalgamation led to a concentration of power in London. Although banks certainly had an incentive to remain liquid and to concentrate on short-term loans, this was not necessarily harmful to industry, which required credit in order to function. Neither did banks shun medium- and long-term loans, and there is little sign that industrial development was checked by an inadequate