Not an Ordinary Bank But a Great Engine of State: The Bank of England and the British Economy, 1694-1844

59 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2020 Last revised: 29 Mar 2022

See all articles by patrick O'Brien

patrick O'Brien

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nuno Pedro G. Palma

University of Manchester

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

From its foundation as a private corporation in 1694 the Bank of England extended large amounts of credit to support the British private economy and to support an increasingly centralized British state. The Bank helped the British state reach a position of geopolitical and economic hegemony in the international economic order. In this paper we deploy recalibrated financial data to analyse an evolving trajectory of connexions between the British economy, the state, and the Bank of England. We show how these connections contributed to form an effective and efficient fiscal-naval state and promoted the development of a system of financial intermediation for the economy. This symbiotic relationship became stronger after 1793. The evidence that we consider here shows that although the Bank was nominally a private institution and profits were paid to its shareholders, it was playing a public role well before Bagehot's doctrine.

Keywords: Bank of England, National defence, State-building institutions

JEL Classification: H41, N13, N23, N43

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, patrick and Palma, Nuno Pedro G., Not an Ordinary Bank But a Great Engine of State: The Bank of England and the British Economy, 1694-1844 (October 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15400, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723592

Patrick O'Brien (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nuno Pedro G. Palma

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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