Foreign Credit Facilities in the United Kingdom: A Sketch of Post-War Development and Present Status

By Leland Rex Robinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II RECENT CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES

IT is a high tribute to the soundness of British institutions that the greatest financial strain to which any money center has ever been subjected has been weathered with almost no fundamental changes of structure.1 Nevertheless, the war and after-war periods have seen a number of significant developments bearing upon foreign trade financing which it is the purpose of this chapter to discuss.

By a process of absorption, amalgamation, and affiliation, the great British banks have been continuously deepening their roots and broadening their branches from 1917 to 1921.2 It is only in 1922 that this feverish activity toward extension reached a definite lull. The joint-stock banks, are now taking advantage of the comparatively slack industrial and trade demands to consolidate their newly-won positions and perfect their organization.

I. The absorption of provincial banks by the larger companies in the joint stock group is a story familiar to any observer of British banking in the last fifty years. The great banks, in extending their territorial grip, have spread

____________________
1
There has been some agitation for changing the inelastic note issue system established by the Act of 1844. However, as deposits are the fundamental form of bank credit in Great Britain the bank-note issue will probably continue on the gold basis. The currency notes of ten shillings and one pound, issued by the Treasury during and since the war, form a convenient medium of exchange in, place of the gold pieces formerly carried.
2
See Appendix I.

-24-

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