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Economic History -- Money-lending and Banking

Individual Documents

Title: Central Banking at the Periphery of the British Empire: Colonial Burma, 1886-1937
Date of publication: July 2005
Description/subject: Abstract: "The purpose of this paper is to bring to light the efforts to fashion a central bank in Burma during the years in which the country was a province of British India. Throughout this period, which lasted from 1886 to 1937, questions of money and finance in Burma were mostly the preserve of the Raj in Calcutta and New Delhi. And, yet, it is a little-known fact that plans to establish a central bank for Burma were promoted throughout the colonial years by a succession of imperial officials. These plans, which reached their apogee in the ‘monetary reform’ advocacy that followed the Great Depression, were never realised in the colonial era. They were, however, indicative of a political economy discourse in colonial Burma that was more vigorous, and theoretically sophisticated, than is commonly supposed."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Macquarie Economics Research Papers, July 2005, no.11/2005.
Format/size: pdf (116K)
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2008


Title: THE CHETTIARS IN BURMA
Date of publication: July 2005
Description/subject: ABSTRACT: "In the history of Burma's political economy, few groups have been so roundly vilified as the Chettiars. A community of moneylenders indigenous to Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, the Chettiars operated throughout the Southeast Asian territories of the British Empire. They played a particularly prominent role in Burma where, alas, they were typically demonised as rapacious usurers, responsible for all manner of vices concomitant with the colonial economy. Not least of these was the chronic land alienation of the Burmese cultivator. The purpose of this paper is to reappraise the role of the Chettiars in Burma. Finding that their role was crucial in the dramatic growth in Burma's agricultural output during the colonial era, the paper disputes the moneylender stereotype so often used against them. Employing modern economic theory to the issue, the paper finds that the success of the Chettiars in Burma lay less in the high interest rates they charged, than it did to patterns of internal organisation that provided solutions to the inherent problems faced by financial intermediaries. A proper functioning financial system could have provided better solutions perhaps for Burma's long-term development, but Burma did not have such a system, then or now. Easy scapegoats for what went wrong, the Chettiars merit history's better judgement."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Macquarie Economics Research Papers, July 2005, no.12/2005.
Format/size: pdf (169K)
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2008


Title: The Rise and Fall of Cooperative Credit in Colonial Burma
Date of publication: June 2005
Description/subject: ABSTRACT: "Cooperative credit was the British Empire's all-purpose answer to problems of rural poverty and indebtedness, usury, and land alienation. Originating in the idealism of the 'Rochedale Pioneers' and in schemes from rural Germany, cooperative credit was imported into India with an evangelical zeal to solve all manner of perceived economic and social ills. With only slightly less moral fervour it was transplanted from India into Burma in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, and by 1920 several thousand cooperative credit societies had mushroomed across the country. The purpose of this paper is to trace the development of cooperative credit in Burma from these promising beginnings, until the near collapse of the movement on the eve of the Great Depression. The paper explores the way in which cooperative credit was seen by the imperial authorities as a device to limit the role of Indian money-lenders in Burma, and as the basis for the establishment of formal rural credit markets. The paper concludes that poor implementation, on top of official myopia as to the cultural, historical and economic differences between India, Burma and Europe, brought about the demise of a movement that promised much."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Macquarie Economics Research Papers, June 2005, no.9/2005.
Format/size: pdf (118K)
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2008