Twentieth Century, July 19, 1894, 8-10.
CO-OPERATION.—EUROPEAN CREDIT BANKS.—X.
BY W. H. VAN ORNUM.
It must be remembered, however, that the Italian banks started out on a radically different plan from those of
Realizing this fact, Dr. Wollemborg started a new type of credit bank, in Lombardy, in June, 1883, with only thirty.two members, and patterned very nearly after the Raiffeisen banks of
The credit unions of
In other directions co-operation is well advanced in
The war of 1870, whereby France was overrun by the German armies, swept away the small co-operative banks which had been planted prior to that time In i866 France had no less than 300, following very nearly the Raiffeisen plan, each with from 25 to 50 members, modest and obscure, but doing their work faithfully and meeting the real wants of the people at small cost to anyone. One of the largest, situated in the Fanbourg St. Antoine, in the six years of its existence loaned upwards of 6,000,000 of francs, and only had two small losses to report. The rigor of self-help; the sense of responsibility; and the humility of its work made it a success where the millionaire enterprises of the state and rich capitalists failed. It has been said that French co-operation was born of the revolution; and had for its object, not the reform of trade, but the emancipation of the workmen. The war practically put an end to co-operation in
The People’s banks in
In sharp contrast to these institutions for mutual self-help, it will be instructive to glance at a few of those conspicuous failures started on the principle of a help to be conferred upon the people by their rulers. The first Napoleon set up his Société du Crédit Agricole, with a great flourish of trumpets, upon a vast capital mainly furnished by himself. His object was to loan money to farmers with which to improve and cultivate their farms. But the scheme was looked upon with suspicion; and he could get no borrowers. At last he loaned 168,000,000 of francs to the Khedive of Egypt, which brought the bank to an end.
Another attempt (I think by Napoleon III.), was called the Chasse d’ Escompte, with a million of money, one half contributed by himself; but no one could be found to borrow. It ended quite as ingloriously as the first. The Empress Eugenia also had to try her hand. She set up the Société des Prets de l’Enfrance; and with the same result. Gambetta started one on the same principle with a capital of 50,000,000 of francs: 12,000,000 of which was subscribed; and later on, Benjamin Rampal, with 2,000,000 francs, all of which failed. They were unsuited to the wants of the people. They could not attract those whom it was absolutely necessary to reach in order to carry out their benevolent schemes. Whatever improvement in the condition of the people that is ever realized must be achieved by the people themselves. It can never come from their rulers; and that is just as true of the politicians in a republic as it is in a monarchy. The difference between them is only in the name.
There is also in
Those interested in the study of European credit banks would do well to read carefully “People’s Banks,” by Henry W. Wolff, published by Longmans, Green & Co., New York, from which this and the two previous chapters are largely condensed.