My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
With the Danatbank

SOON after I joined the Nationalbank f¨r Deutschland one of my fellow members, as already mentioned, was obliged to resign from the board which now consisted only of my colleague Wittenberg and myself. Wittenberg handled the current business while I was entrusted with the larger credit and joint stock transactions. We were short of a manager for the entire Securities Department and it therefore became necessary to appoint a third member of the board. On the urgent recommendation of some members of my Supervisory Council I allowed myself to be persuaded into inviting Herr Jacob Goldschmidt, a partner in the banking firm of Schwarz, Goldschmidt & Co., to join the board of the Nationalbank. Schwarz, Goldschmidt & Co. was one of the most active firms in the securities markets and their senior partner, Goldschmidt, was reckoned one of the most capable men on 'Change. He joined the board of the Nationalbank in the middle of 1918 and during the ensuing decade developed into one of the most prominent figures on the Berlin Stock Exchange and one of the most discussed members of Berlin's banking business.

It soon transpired that Goldschmidt and I differed completely in temperament and, unfortunately, also in our attitude to banking policy. Although we were outwardly on good terms, I very much disliked his speculative methods. Within a very short time he started to acquire securities amounting to considerable sums on the bank's account which resulted sometimes in gains, sometimes in losses. His strong suit was to gain a footing in most of the big limited companies by means of these parcels of securities and thereby obtain their custom for the bank. He would likewise instigate and carry through amalgamations and other combines among the big companies, all of which, it is true, greatly enhanced the importance of the Nationalbank and brought plenty of new business, but which on the other hand made excessive demands on the bank's resources. Incidentally, he overlooked the fact that these same resources consisted not only of the bank's own capital, but even more of customers' deposits.

Goldschmidt always inclined more to bulls than to bears, a common failing among speculators. Bulls are those who count

-171-

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