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The introduction of the joint-stock company in English banking and monetary policy

Following the passage of the 1826 Act, the joint-stock bank entered the English banking system and its dominance over the private bank is often thought to be a result of laissez-faire political ideology. This article shows that banking and monetary policy in the nineteenth century was far from liberal or permissive as regulators legislated with a clear idea of the intended outcomes of their actions. Yet, as policy-makers were often unsuccessful in their attempts to introduce change in the banking system, they became interventionist in an effort to rectify their mistakes. By placing regulation in its political context, we show that the emergence of a set of banks with shareholders, sleeping partners and investors as owners was both unexpected and unintentional. It reveals their subsequent attempt to repeal the 1826 Act and dissolve the offending companies through more legislation.

Keywords
Banks, nineteenth century, policy-making, legislation

Published on 19th September 2016
Authors Professor Lucy Newton
Series Reference IBH-2016-01