Commercial banks are among the oldest and most familiar financial institutions. When they work well, we hardly notice; when they do not, we rail against them. What are the historical forces that have shaped the modern banking system? In Unsettled Account, Richard Grossman takes the first truly comparative look at the development of commercial banking systems over the past two centuries in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Grossman focuses on four major elements that have contributed to banking evolution: crises, bailouts, mergers, and regulations. He explores where banking crises come from and why certain banking systems are more resistant to crises than others, how governments and financial systems respond to crises, why merger movements suddenly take off, and what motivates governments to regulate banks.
Grossman reveals that many of the same components underlying the history of banking evolution are at work today. The recent subprime mortgage crisis had its origins, like many earlier banking crises, in a boom-bust economic cycle. Grossman finds that important historical elements are also at play in modern bailouts, merger movements, and regulatory reforms.
Unsettled Account is a fascinating and informative must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the modern commercial banking system came to be, where it is headed, and how its development will affect global economic growth.
Richard S. Grossman is professor of economics at Wesleyan University and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.
"Grossman's is a good read. The book tells you as to how we got to be where we are. There are lessons to be learnt for those who want to go about reshaping reforms in global banking."--BusinessWorld
"Grossman weaves an enormous amount of research into an impressive history of the banking industry in many developed countries over the last 200 years. His focuses primarily on changes in the size and structure of the banking industry over time and argues that banks and bank assets rise as a share of overall economic output and then fall as a country moves from developing to developed. . . . [T]his work represents a valuable contribution to the history of banking."--Choice
"Professor Grossman has assembled an impressive collection of historical, statistical, and bibliographic data, one that would be extremely difficult to reproduce using other sources. This information will prove invaluable for those conducting intensive research on commercial or international banking, and Unsettled Account will make an excellent addition for libraries that commonly serve such patrons. Academic law libraries at institutions offering specific courses in commercial banking may also want to consider a copy."--Shannon L. Kemen, Law Library Journal
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