The Political Economy of German Unification

By Thomas Lange; J. R. Shackleton | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven
FINANCIAL SYSTEMS AND INDUSTRIAL
PERFORMANCE
Germany in Comparison with the UK

Geoff Pugh


Introduction

In the years before the First World War, economists had already begun to contrast German 'finance capital' -- characterised by longterm interdependence between German banks and industry -- with the more distant relationship between banks and industry in the UK. In 1910, a connection between these institutional differences and the backwardness of English industry was the subject of comment by the German economist Hilferding.1. Since then, a succession of enquiries and reports have given this theme an almost conventional status ( Henderson 1993, p. 259). Most recently, Will Hutton ( 1995, p. xi) has argued that 'the weakness of the British economy, particularly the level and character of investment, originates in the financial system', whereas in Germany the financial system supports industry -- i.e. non-financial firms -- and is a source of economic strength). However, Edwards and Fischer conclude their study of German finance and industry with a direct challenge to this view: 'The commonly held view of the merits of the German system of finance for investment, in terms of the supply of external

____________________
1.
Hilferding linked deficiencies in English industrial organisation with relatively 'much smaller influence of the banks on industry' ( 1968, p. 257).

-163-

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