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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

166   STATE MONOPOLY  IN  BANKING

changes of fashion and the ebb and flow of demand, and
even a relative diminution of reputation may not lead
to a shrinking of the deposits and current account
balances of any one bank, or even of each bank in turn.
Accordingly, every bank has to maintain an uninvested,
or, at least, a specially liquid, reserve to meet such a
possible withdrawal. The smaller, the more numerous,
the more specialised by locality or industry are the
competing banks, the larger must be this reserve. On
the other hand, if all the deposit and current accounts
of the nation were kept at one bank, even if it has
innumerable branches, as the experience of the Post
Office Savings Bank shows, no such shifting of business
would affect it; no mere transfers from firm to firm or
from trade to trade would involve any shrinking of its
aggregate balances; and it would need only to have in
hand, somewhere, sufficient currency to replenish
temporarily a local drain on its * till money/ The nearer
the banks can approach to this condition of monopoly,
not only the lower will be their percentage of working
expenses, but also the greater will be the financial
stability, and the smaller the amount that they will need
to keep uninvested in order to meet possible withdrawals.
" (b) That the process of amalgamation has involved
an ever-increasing elimination, from the British banking
business, of the typical profit-maker, first as partner in
a private bank, then as a director in a Joint Stock bank,
representing a large personal holding of shares; and
the gradual transfer of practically the whole conduct of
the business to what may be called ' disinterested
management'—that is to say, management by trained,
professional officers serving for salaries, whose remunera-
tion bears no relation to the profit made on each piece
of business transacted. The part played in the business
by the directors themselves seems to be, with every
increase in the magnitude and scope of the concern,
steadily diminishing; and these directors,.moreover,
come to be chosen, more and more, not because of their"