Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Lombard Street, A Description of the Money Market
Walter Bagehot (1826–1877)
Lombard Street, ‘A Description of the Money Market,’ by Walter Bagehot, is a lucid exposition of the English banking system published in 1873. The Bank of England, the Private Banks, the Joint Stock Banks and the bill-brokers are considered in turn, the main features of the whole system explained, and the problems arising from them discussed. “Two fundamental ideas run through the whole of Mr. Bagehot’s book, of which the first is this: that it is wrong, unjust, and dangerous that the whole banking reserve of the kingdom should be kept in one bank, the Banking Department of the Bank of England. He points out in detail how all the country banks of Great Britain keep their cash resources in some one of the London banks, and how all of these London banks keep their cash resources with the Bank of England, so that the reserve of notes in this one institution constitutes the fund which must meet a sudden demand from all parts of the kingdom…. While admitting, however, the grave defects of the one reserve system as practiced in England, Mr. Bagehot frankly states that it is useless to hope for or advocate any change. He treats the adoption of a many reserve system as wholly impracticable … confining himself to the consideration of what should be the proper management of the single reserve in the Bank of England.” (Gamaiel Bradford in North American Review, vol. cxix., October, 1874). The second fundamental idea is that in a time of panic it is the true policy of a reserve-holding bank to be liberal in granting loans and discounts and not to be too rigid in scrutinizing security. Only thus can public confidence be maintained; otherwise the impression that money cannot be obtained will create a rush for money. The book is an admirable and rare example of business ability and experience united with literary skill, economic insight and the gift of clarity in exposition.  1

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