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The Banking Sector and the Great Depression in Bulgaria, 1924 - 1938: Interlocking and Financial Sector Profitability

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  • Kiril Danailov Kossev

    ()
    (Oxford University)

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    Abstract

    The economic narratives of Southeast Europe during the first part of the 20th century are currently being re-written. A story of failed industrialisation and delayed modernisation during the Interwar period has dominated since the pioneering work of Gerschenkron, but not enough aggregate data are available to see this as the only interpretation. In particular, virtually nothing is known about the financial system. This paper has two aims. First, it looks at the banking sector in Bulgaria in 1924- 1938. We provide new data for the 1920s rise and the 1930s decline of the Bulgarian banking sector and we evaluate its potential contribution to Bulgarian economic growth. In the second part, we discuss different explanations for the widespread collapse of commercial banks after the onset of the Great Depression. Relying on a new data set for over 100 Bulgarian commercial banks, we show that traditional explanations for the collapse of European commercial banks in the 1930s (based on the default of risky loans and falling asset prices due to deflation) need to be complemented by the pernicious effects of widespread insider lending in the Bulgarian case. We conclude that insider lending was the single most important factor behind the demise of the private banking system after the onset of the Depression.

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    File URL: http://www.bankofgreece.gr/BogEkdoseis/Paper200876.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Bank of Greece in its series Working Papers with number 76.

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    Length: 46 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bog:wpaper:76

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    Related research

    Keywords: Bulgarian economic development; Banking and finance; Great Depression; Insider lending;

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    1. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1996. "Financial Dependence and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hoshi, Takeo & Kashyap, Anil & Scharfstein, David, 1991. "Corporate Structure, Liquidity, and Investment: Evidence from Japanese Industrial Groups," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 33-60, February.
    3. Rajan, Raghuram G, 1992. " Insiders and Outsiders: The Choice between Informed and Arm's-Length Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1367-400, September.
    4. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, December.
    5. Bourke, Philip, 1989. "Concentration and other determinants of bank profitability in Europe, North America and Australia," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 65-79, March.
    6. Alex Trew, 2005. "Finance and Growth: A Critical Survey," CDMA Working Paper Series 200507, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis, revised 15 Apr 2006.
    7. Lamoreaux,Naomi R., 1994. "Insider Lending," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521460965, April.
    8. Okazaki, Tetsuji & Sawada, Michiru & Yokoyama, Kazuki, 2005. "Measuring the Extent and Implications of Director Interlocking in the Prewar Japanese Banking Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 1082-1115, December.
    9. Peter Temin & Joachim Voth, 2004. "Credit rationing and crowding out during the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Hoare's Bank, 1702-1862," Economics Working Papers 859, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2005.
    10. Ross Levine, 1997. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Views and Agenda," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 688-726, June.
    11. Randall Morck & Masao Nakamura, 1999. "Banks and Corporate Control in Japan," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 319-339, 02.
    12. Sophocles N. Brissimis & Theodora S. Kosma, 2006. "Market Conduct, Price Interdependence and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," Working Papers 51, Bank of Greece.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    14. Fohlin,Caroline, 2007. "Finance Capitalism and Germany's Rise to Industrial Power," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521810203, April.
    15. Fohlin, Caroline, 1999. "Universal Banking in Pre-World War I Germany: Model or Myth?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 305-343, October.
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