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The German Yearbook on Business History contains a wealth of articles on corporate and business history in the 19th and 20th centuries. The authors are scientists and businessmen.



Historical Studies

Between War Profits and War Costs Krupp in the First World War

Whoever takes a closer look at the German war and armament economy during the First World War cannot fail to come across Fried. Krupp AG in Essen. The size and complexity of the company, its controlling position within the Ruhr industries and its outstanding importance as a weapons manufacturer all lifted Krupp above the mass of the German industrial companies and gave the firm an important position. It was in particular in the later years of Wilhelm II. that Krupp was almost a national institution. The Kaiser’s participation in the fates of the company and family leant strength to this position.
Lothar Burchardt

Indicators of Real Effective Exchange Rates of Major Trading Nations from 1922 to 1937

From the beginning of the First World War to the beginning of the Second World War trade was affected by frequent, varied and unusually extensive shifts in international price relations and exchange rate parities. The First World War and the varying degrees of inflation caused by the war economy in every country gave rise to the first wave of extensive change. The situation was further distorted by the success in combatting inflation in some countries and the progressive deterioriation in the currency in others during the immediate postwar years. The violent fluctuations took place during a period when exchange rates were free to move. In the mid-twenties relative calm was restored when most of the major international currencies returned to the gold standard and the price trends steadied somewhat. But, of course, the inherent deviations from the price and exchange rate relations of the ‘halcyon’ prewar days in world trade continued to have an effect. Moreover, the calm was of short duration, and the world slump set off a second wave of hectic fluctuations in price and exchange rates, which only gradually ebbed after 1934. This was a period of arbitrary changes in exchange rates that were on principle fixed1, and it corrected or accentuated the results of the first wave.
Volker Hentschel

Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schacht and the Reparation Payments (1924–1930)

In the prime period of the Weimar Republic the name and personality of the President of the Reichsbank, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, were a guarantee of monetary stability. Certainly, the generation traumatized by the inflation considered him as such. After the collapse of the Third Reich, in which he had been the leading figure in economic policy until 1937, Schacht was discredited and put on trial. Subsequently, he endowed the public with self-eulogies in his own defence1, the only result of which has been that the guardian of the Weimar currency, who was one of the earliest to support Hitler, has been characterized as a dilettante in foreign policy2, an intriguer3, an opportunist4, and even a quasi-pathological case.5 The ritual of discrediting Schacht has been performed so often that recently only an occasional hagiography6 or factual analysis7 has recently appeared, and there is noticeable ennui 8 at the prospect of more critical studies of him.9 That Schacht’s resignation on 7 March 1930 and his support of Hitler were connected with his conflict with the Müller cabinet over financial and reparation policy is generally known. Schacht himself whipped up public controversy when he published his unbridled polemic account of his reparation policy optimistically titled ‘Das Ende der Reparationen’ (The End of the Reparation Payments) in 1931 and attacked the politicians of Weimar in his malicious speech at the notorious Bad Harzburg rally of the nationalist opposition to the republic a few months later.10
Johannes Houwink ten Gate

Cartels as a Form of Concentration in Industry: The Example of the International Dyestuffs Cartel from 1927 to 1939

Concentration in the economy is one of those fundamental themes which need to be taken up periodically, and are. A similar process is evident in the writing of economic history.1 Helmut Arndt and Günter Ollenburg defined concentration as “a concentration of economic forces”.2 This definition was adopted by historians3 and it also forms the basis of this article. That cartelisation is closely related to concentration is stressed by all sides, but even the views on the nature of the relation diverge. Wolfram Fischer saw the degree of cartelisation between the wars as furthering concentration.4 Hans-Heinrich Barnikel also saw “cartels in all their variety and with all their surrogate forms” in one of their variants as a form of concentration.5 Hans Otto Lenel pointed out that cartels generally increase concentration.6 But from the Marxist view Helga Nussbaum reaches a conclusion that is in some ways the opposite: the merger of existing companies is prevented, while the companies in the cartel show above-average growth.7 These statements are to be examined in this article, using the dyestuffs cartel as an example. However, the main focus will be somewhat different: Lenel and Nussbaum see cartelisation and concentration as two different things, while describing one set of causes and effects. Their considerations are based on concentration of ownership, while in this article the cartel is examined as a concentration of market power, as in the above definitions. From the perspective of the buyer the concentration of market power could certainly seem the most important and relativise the differences that persisted, no matter what they were.
Harm G. Schröter

Reviews of Literature

A Review of the New Literature on Business History

Yet again in 1987 there was a great interest in business history in the Federal Republic of Germany and this is not only evident in the large number and the high quality of the publications. The enterprises themselves have become aware that their history is part of the business culture and should be used to develop a corporate identity. A large number of commemorative publications from enterprises is also an indicator of a good economic situation. Considering the substantial time and financial effort involved, an enterprise’s decision to produce such a commemorative paper is because of financial reasons certainly more easily made during an economic boom than during a period when the business has to concentrate all its efforts on overcoming a fall in sales. In addition to this an enterprise would probably prefer to write a “success story” than a history of a crisis. The continuous good economic conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany evidently provide a reason for the busy publication activity of enterprises for their jubilees, but also for publishers to publish business historical works written by scientists. With approximately 275 business history publications which appeared in 1987 there were published less than in the two preceding years, but there still was a continuation of the trend already apparent in the preceding years of an increasing number of business historical publications being written without an order from an enterprise. About 164 business historical papers resulted from a contract with an enterprise or association, 111 — more than ever before — were independent of such sponsorship.
Beate Brüninghaus

A Review of the New Literature on Banking History

In a short work commissioned by the Institut für Kapitalmarktforschung Ralf Joachim Götz discusses Big Bang and its effects on the German stock markets.1 The study covers data up to 1 September 1987.
Monika Pohle

Reports on Conferences

Cooperation in the Form of Banking Consortia

Second Scientific Colloquium held by the Institute for Bankhistorical Research on 15 May 1987 in the premises of the Creditanstalt-Bankverein, Vienna
Gerhard Randa of the Board of Management of the hosting Creditanstalt-Bankverein, welcomed the participants and referred to the topicality of the subject “Cooperation in Banking Consortia”. The amendment to the Austrian banking act had introduced more stringent regulations on bank’s own funds and limited risks, such those on large loans. This would require more cooperation between banks.
Monika Pohle

Socialized Companies — Yesterday — Today — Tomorrow

12th Programme of Public Lectures Organized by the Company for Corporate History (GUG) on the 22nd May 1987 in Bonn
Readers of papers, panel chairman and participants were agreed on one point: they all praised the GUG’s courage to organize a public event focussed on the scientific discussion of the social economy topic. This had little to do with the fiasco recently suffered by the German Trade Unions Association with its socialized enterprise, in particular with “Neue Heimat” (which, surprisingly enough, was not a matter of discussion), but rather with the private sector’s obvious aversion to express itself on social economy and a notion of social economy which was interpreted at will and deprived a highly topical matter of its explosiveness.
Horst A. Wessel

Trends in the Savings Banks’ Deposits-Taking Business

Report on the Symposium of the History of Savings Banks, Heildelberg, September 23/24/1987
‘Trends in the Savings Banks’ Deposits-Taking Business’ was the general theme of the Symposium on the History of Savings Banks in Heidelberg, September 23/24, 1987, chaired by Mr. Gustav Adolf Schröder, managing director of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association*, Bonn, and Professor Dr. Bernd Rudolph, University of Frankfurt/Main; the organizer and sponsor was the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung über das Spar- und Girowesen, e.V., Bonn.
Jürgen Mura

The Private Customer

Eleventh National Symposium of the Institute for Bank-Historical Research held in October 16, 1987, at the Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank, Frankfurt am Main
In the decisive battle for market shares in the retail banking sektor, banks are not merely competing against one another (take, for example, new opening hours, aggressive canvassing for home-building savings, etc.) but, as a group, they are also competing against non-banks which take away a substantial portion of the non-cash payment business from banks through credit cards, for instance. How much of a threat are these competitors to banks? Are the endeavours to issue a “joint credit card” an adequate response to this challenge? After all, it seems that private customers have something of an aversion to being part of an automated impersonal business, and would greatly appreciate decidedly more individual treatment. Are banks aware of this need, and what are they going to do about it?
Monika Pohle


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