Alternative Forms of Mixing Banking with Commerce: Evidence from American History
49 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2002
Date Written: February 2003
Much of the discussion about banking and commerce in America has failed to make several crucial distinctions and has not accounted for many arrangements that have promoted the mixing of these activities. We investigate the history of banking and commerce in the United States, looking both at bank control of commercial firms and commercial firms' control of banks. We trace how these controls have changed with shifting definitions of "bank" and changing methods of "control." Despite the regulations prohibiting some arrangements that promote financial control, we find evidence of extensive linkages between banking and commerce in the United States. These linkages usually build on devices that are very close substitutes to the arrangements prohibited by law. Altogether, our findings question the often made claim that traditionally banking in the United States has been separated from commerce. Furthermore, given that research on Japan and Germany has shown that the mixing of banking and commerce matters for a variety of issues, our evidence also raises some questions on similar research in the United States which makes the simplifying assumption that these industries are separated.
Keywords: Banking, commerce, equity investments, trust departments, director interlocks
JEL Classification: G21, G28, N21, N22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation