RECENT years have seen new institutions growing in Great Britain, and old ones extending their services to increase the foreign credit facilities enjoyed by British traders. The occasion has lain not only in demands of war and the huge credit turnover immediately following, but also in the will to realize an all-British system of banking, which could meet the far-flung needs of imperial and world trade without too vital reliance on foreign interests and companies save in the countries of their domicile.
Specialization was as marked in the British financial world before the war as it is at present--and perhaps more so in the field of foreign-trade financing. One concomitant of this was the surprising extent to which great commercial and deposit banks relied upon institutions operating overseas, whether British or foreign. They leaned heavily upon German banks with London offices for Continental intelligence, and made use of exchange, collection and agency facilities provided by Colonial, Dominion, and European banks. The degree of this dependence was clearly revealed after the war, when uncertain exchanges and chaotic political conditions necessitated a more efficient range of services than ever before. At the same time, the failure to rehabilitate former enemy banks and the impaired efficiency of other foreign institutions which had long been cogs in the London credit mechanism left embarrassing gaps in England's facilities for foreign trade financing.