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International Socialism, Winter 1962


Theo Melville

The Sober Banker


From International Socialism, No.11, Winter 1962, p.31.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Capital Funds in Underdeveloped Countries
Edward Nevin
Macmillan. 18s.

This is one of those worthy academic books which little can be said when the premise of the whole work is somewhat doubtful, i.e. that private banking has a valid role to play in the underdeveloped countries. Early on, the author demonstrates the ludicrous nature of economic aid to these countries (1958-9, $1.9 per head of the population) but he might have added that modern world capitalism has shown conclusively its inability to transform on the necessary scale the economic arrangements and social structures in these countries. Various technical matters are discussed, the rigidity of the Sterling Exchange system, the nature of the backing for a local currency, the functions of central banking and its relation to commercial banking, all inevitably within capitalist assumptions.

Its all very well meaning, sober and highly artificial. A socialist would have preferred factual illumination on the actual functioning of present banks and their actual tendencies. This is admittedly partly achieved because reference is made to past practices such as the raising of interest rates following their rise in the metropolitan countries and preoccupation with expatriate and trading enterprises.

Despite the slightly comical language about the need for state intervention to assist risk bearing private investors the author is angelic at heart as can be seen from his interest in long term investment projects, that would really transform the territories in question.

Before and after reading Mr Nevin we can say quite confidently that capitalist banking has no great renaissance before it in these regions – God help them if it has.

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