American Commercial Banking: A History

  • Title: American Commercial Banking: A History
  • Author: Benjamin J.Klebaner
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company. (September 1990)
  • ISBN-10: 0805798153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805798159

This was a good introduction to American commercial banking; as a history it connects well with other books I’ve read about the history of American currency (which had a major impact on banking of course) and a history of the Federal Reserve.

I got one insight that should have been obvious I think – the free banking movement, and lack of early controls on banking, were major components in the opening of the United States. This provided money where and when it was required to make business work on the frontier, with minimal risks; the number of bank failures were actually quite small compared with the amount of business provided.

I need to spend some time thinking about the British banking experience as compared to the American one, as I think there are some strong differences that have led to fairly different attitudes towards banks.

This book only goes to about 1989, so don’t expect recent events and changes to be reflected (most importantly the incredible rise of branch banking). With that caviat, this is a worthwhile read.


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