KAREL KARÁSEK, DIRECTOR OF THE INDUSTRIAL AND AGRICULTURAL BANK OF BOHEMIA, PRAGUE
The old Austro-Hungarian Empire had two economic centers, Vienna and Budapest, which controlled the economic life of the provinces and which, in consequence, became the seat of the largest and most influential banks. The banks themselves favored this economic centralism which was also supported by the Government's policy of taxation. Just as, after the foundation of the German monarchy, the establishment of the large Berlin banks had led to a concentration of economic activities in Berlin to the detriment of Frankfort, Dresden and Hamburg, so the big banks of Vienna helped to maintain the controlling influence of Vienna in Austrian economic life, although about 80 per cent of the industries were concentrated in Bohemia and Moravia.
Under such circumstances it is not surprising that the first banking institution established in Prague in 1857 should have been a branch of the Vienna Oest. Creditanstaldt für Handel und Gewerbe. It was only in 1863 that the first independent bank was established in Prague, and that was the Bohemian Discount Bank, established by German bankers and industrialists of