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An Economic and Social History of Europe, 1890–1939 by Frank B. Tipton, Robert Aldrich

By Frank B. Tipton, Robert Aldrich

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An official of the Dresdener Bank boasted in 1908: 'In Germany our banks are largely responsible for the development of the empire. To them, more than to any other agency, may be credited the splendid results thus far achieved'. Banks placed representatives on the boards of directors of firms with which they were involved - the Deutsche Bank held seats on 161 corporate boards in 1913 - and encouraged the formation of cartels, with their emphasis on the preservation of existing market shares and elimination of competition.

Heavy industrial development remained concentrated in a few favoured urban and industrial centres, and textiles, clothing and food processing remained substantially larger than the metals and machinery branches favoured by the governments. The overwhelming majority of the population remained agricultural, and eastern agriculture remained backward compared to that of the west. The development of eastern Europe depended on the needs of western Europe. As in the north and south, the countries of the eastern perimeter relied on exports of primary products to the west.

Immense numbers of workers moved over immense distances in the hope of a better life. Immense THE GOLD STANDARD AND IMPERIALISM 45 amounts of capital flowed among nations, encouraging a rapidly spreading economic developTIlent. The efficient operation of the . international economy depended not on the gold standard, but on the unique role played by Britain. Despite the growth of other national economies, the sheer size of the British market and Britain's continued commitment to free trade maintained Britain's position as a crucial outlet for both primary and manufactured products.

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