The Corner: Book Review of Genealogy of American Finance

June 5, 2015

The Corner: Book Review of <i>Genealogy of American Finance</i>

By Bart Ward, "The Corner" (syndicated column)

"Since the 1980s, the number of independent banks has again been reduced by half or more by mergers, acquisitions, failures and other types of disappearances. To a great extent, the giant financial holding companies that now dominate the US financial system, and whose genealogies are featured here, have been creations of recent decades…What made American banking so different from that of other leading nations was the US political system, which for the most of US history resulted in the states rather than the federal government controlling banking development." That quote comes from the concluding chapter of the new book Genealogy of American Finance (GAF), by Robert E. Wright and Richard Sylla and co-published by Columbia Business School Publishing and the Museum of American Finance (MoAF).

Handsomely tailored, right sized and beautifully illustrated, GAF tells the story of fifty of the largest financial institutions that have influenced the US financial system. On top of that, the book pedigrees the institutions using the conventional tree structure/ancestry chart. The beginning chapter of the book is subtitled "A Brief History of Banking in America" followed by a chapter that explains "Banks, Holding Companies and Corporate Genealogies." This chapter deals with the "Necessary Technical Talk" to be able to understand depository and nondepository institutions, holding companies, bank holding companies (BHCs), savings and loan holding companies and financial holding companies. It also presents the context of the book as being a "genealogy" of bank holding companies that now dominate the US financial/banking system...


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