All entries for Thursday 23 September 2010

September 23, 2010

Whither banking?

Banking handbill

"Bankers have created over £7,000,000,000 of money by owing what they lend or spend"

Banking really hit the headlines in 2008 when, apparently, the entire global system came close to collapse, and debate about what to do about banks and bankers has rumbled on ever since, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg being one of the latest contributors.  This document, which dates from 1945, illustrates the fact that it has often been a controversial matter in the past as well.  Its author was Edwin Wright, who described himself as a "Socialist ever since 1890".  Between 1952 and 1954, he sent three copies to the headquarters of the Trades Union Congress, each of which had a different set of annotations by Wright and was accompanied by further typescript and manuscript exposition in his rather idiosyncratic style.  One of these sheets is headed "our fraudulent banking system about which the Socialists have been fooled", and one of the handbill annotations reads: "nationalisation of the Bank of England has not altered this silly system.  Why not nationalise all banks!"  There is no copy of a reply from the TUC on the file and a note on one of Wright's letters suggests he was just sent a brief acknowledgement.

[From a TUC file on banking, 1931-1954, which also includes a somewhat more sober memorandum advocating the nationalisation of banking "submitted by an experienced bank official"; document reference MSS.292/452/2(link to on-line catalogue)].

Click on the 'thumbnail' for a larger image.


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