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The Theory and Practice of Joint-Stock Banking

The Theory and Practice of Joint-Stock Banking

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Excerpt from The Theory and Practice of Joint-Stock Banking: Showing the Advantages Which Will Arise to the Agricultural, Commercial, and Manufacturing Interests of England, From the Institution of Joint-Stock Banks of Issue, Discount, and Deposits

1. The system of banking by two or three hundreds of individuals, on the ordinary principles of a mercantile copartnery - whereby each partner becomes liable, to the extent of his whole fortune, for the debts of the copartnery - had its origin in Scotland, where it has flourished for upwards of a century, and given to that kingdom a circulating medium more valuable than the currency of any kingdom in Europe.

2. The system of joint-stock banking gives circulation to the landed property, mineral riches, stock of commodities on hand or on consignment at foreign ports, by representing a portion of their value in a paper currency, guarantied by the united private fortunes of the whole individuals composing the bank, and thus establishing the certainty of its convertibility into government stock, if not into actual bullion, at the call of the holders.

3. When this system was established in Scotland, the beneficial effects of so splendid a discovery could not be conjectured. This arose from the depositors being at first ignorant of the undoubted nature of the security they possessed for the due payment of the notes, receipts, and other obligations granted by the banking company; and from this ignorance of the value of the security, arose the consequent necessity, on the part of the bank, to keep a large stock of unproductive coin or bullion, nearly equal In amount to the notes and receipts issued by the company.

4. But the experience of a few years enlightened the public mind. Commercial men at length perceived that a different system of banking might be adopted, than that which was based on the principle of laying up coin or bullion and only issuing its paper representative for the same amount, to the aid of the commercial interests. It was evident, on such a system, one unit was not added to the sound currency of the country, and a plan equally good might have been invented and acted on by any of the most barbarous nations in the world.

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