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Maximizing profits or pursuing the public good? The bank of Spain as a central bank


  • Martín-Aceña, Pablo
  • Martínez-Ruiz, Elena
  • Nogues-Marco, Pilar


The purpose of this study is to examine whether the transition from a system of various issuing banks to a monopoly system was a step in the Bank of Spain becoming a central bank in the true sense of the word (a non-profit maximizing bank); or on the contrary, whether the Bank used its privilege as the only private issuing institution to obtain extra profits, and neglected its duties as a central bank. The study shows that thanks to the monopoly, the Spanish issuer obtained extraordinary profits (above the average for the sector). We also show that the Bank's "private interest" prevailed over the "public interest" (convertibility into gold) and that the monopoly was not a decisive step in its becoming a genuine central bank. The Bank of Spain was a very profitable financial institution for its shareholders, and little concerned with the public interest. History shows that the Bank of Spain's transformation into an institution responsible for monetary and financial policy did not occur until well into the twentieth century.

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  • Martín-Aceña, Pablo & Martínez-Ruiz, Elena & Nogues-Marco, Pilar, 2019. "Maximizing profits or pursuing the public good? The bank of Spain as a central bank," Working Papers unige:124125, University of Geneva, Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:gnv:wpaper:unige:124125

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pablo Martín-Aceña & Elena Martínez Ruíz & Pilar Nogués Marco, 2012. "The Bank of Spain: a National Financial Insitution," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1205, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    2. Elena Martínez-Ruiz & Pilar Nogues-Marco, 2014. "Crisis cambiarias y políticas de intervención en España, 1880-1975," Estudios de Historia Económica, Banco de España, number 66, November.
    3. Lembke B., 1918. "√ a. p," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 111(1), pages 709-712, February.
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    1. Pablo Martín-Aceña & Elena Martínez Ruíz & Pilar Nogués Marco, 2012. "The Bank of Spain: a National Financial Insitution," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1205, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.

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    More about this item


    Bank of Spain; Central banks; Banking market structure; Issuing monopoly; Profit-maximizing issuing banks.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • M2 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N83 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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