Effects of the War on Money, Credit and Banking in France and the United States

By Benjamin M. Anderson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Money, Credit and Banking in France

It would be hard to find a sharper contrast among the great banking systems of the world than that between France and the United States. The difference is so great that it is not always easy for trained students whose background is primarily French, and trained students whose background is primarily American, to find a common language or to realize that beneath the differences in forms there are many common principles in operation. The American takes for granted many practices, and theories regarding those practices, of which some of the best informed French bankers seem to know little; while the French student takes for granted doctrines and practices which must be very carefully explained indeed to the American student of this subject.

One difficulty in the way of understanding the French system is the paucity of statistical materials in usable shape.1 With the exception of the Banque de France, the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, and some minor semi-public institutions of banking character, French banks are wholly private institutions. If incorporated at all, they are incorporated under the general corporation laws, and subject to no more state control than a manufacturing corporation would be. The state requires no reports from them in uniform style, or, indeed, any reports at all, in general, except for taxation purposes. Commonly they make annual reports to their stockholders, and frequently they publish some sort of balance sheet statements at intervals between the annual reports. But it is not easy to get information from

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1
Cf. opinion expressed in Statesman's Year Book, 1912, page 794, where figures for the private banks are declared to be so unsatisfactory as not to justify republication.

-19-

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