Banking, Currency, and Finance in Europe between the Wars by Charles H. Feinstein

By Charles H. Feinstein

This paintings presents an authoritative learn of the interwar monetary heritage of Europe. The rules and practices resulting in, and flowing from, the trade cost crises and banking disasters of 1929-33 are explored at 3 degrees: total issues reports in a global viewpoint, comparative analyses of the event of pairs of nations, and designated surveys of person nations.

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The defeat of Germany, and in many respects of Europe as a whole, with the attendant provisions for reparations and debt payment, made the whole international monetary system entirely dependent on the ability or willingness of the USA to compensate for its trade surpluses by capital movements. These would inevitably be highly volatile. Neither governments nor public opinion understood the new situation well, much less did they know how to deal with it. Economists, with few exceptions, proved to be of little help; worse, they were often the slaves of dead teachers and their doctrines.

In comparison with the pre-1913 period, Europe's trade balance had deteriorated because of the weakening in her relative industrial competitiveness. The net receipts on invisible account were also greatly reduced; in particular, because the loss of overseas assets as a result of the war and the Bolshevik Revolution eliminated a large part of the pre-war inflow of interest and 32 C. H. FEINSTEIN, P. TEMIN, AND G. TONIOLO dividends from abroad, while the inter-Allied debts increased the payments which had to be made to the USA.

Where such crises occurred this, in turn, produced feedback effects on the real side of the economy. Thus in Britain (see Chapter 15 by Capie) where there had been no panic or financial crisis since 1860, one would expect to find the highest degree of stability in the banking system, and 1920–1 was no exception. The separation between banks and industry was, by then, quite well established, so that banks did well in terms of profitability and currency/deposit ratios during the post-war depression; the depression itself was rather mild; and the Bank of England had developed such a reputation as lender-of-last-resort that it could defuse the possibility of banking panics by its very presence.

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