Monday, January 18, 2010

Bank Loans to Stock Brokers.

"The making of bank loans to stock brokers is bottomed primarily on the confidence which the banker has in the broker as a person, and secondarily on the goodness of the securities offered. The modus operandi is substantially this: The broker, knowing from the clearing sheet of yesterday what payments he has to meet today, obtains from his bank in the morning authority to draw for this aggregate amount at an agreed rate of interest. As his checks come in during the day the bank certifies them and the banker sends to the broker the bank securities whose market value is greater by a certain margin than the amount borrowed.

"These loans are usually payable on call. As National Banks are forbidden by law to certify checks for a sum greater than the drawer of checks has on deposit, the practice in such cases is for the broker to execute a promissory note, which note the banker discounts, putting the proceeds to the credit of the broker, and attaching the security to it as it comes in during the day. While this method exposes the banker to some danger of loss in the interval between the certification of checks and the receipts of the securities, such losses seldom occur. There is an unwritten rule of the stock exchange that the bank must be protected at all hazards, both as a matter of personal honor and because the stock brokerage busines cannot be carried on otherwise."

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"Capital is the result of saving. If not the parent of civilization, it is the indispensable promoter and handmaid of it, since capital gives mankind the leisure and the means to take new steps forward in solving the problems of human existence. It is desirable that there should be facilities for investing the savings of the people without serious delay. Such facilities promote saving. It is desirable that investments should be convertible into cash without delay. The raison d'etre of a stock exchange is to supply a place where money can be invested quickly and recovered quickly, or investments made upon which the investor can borrow money if he so desires. It is an incidental advantage that the stock exchange informs all investors, and intending investors, daily and without cost to themselves, of the prices at which they can buy or sell the securities on the active list of the exchange. These prices are made by the competition of buyers and sellers in the market, who are acting under the spur of self-interest. There is no other way in which true prices can be made. If the quotations so made are not precisely the truth in every case, they are the nearest approach to it that mankind has yet discovered."

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The Stock Exchange.

"The Stock Exchange is a meeting place of the buyers and sellers of invested capital; that is, of incomes present or prospective. This is a comparatively modern institution because invested capital transferable by negotiable instruments is of modern origin. There were exchanges in the ancient world where traders met to deal in various kinds of movable goods. The Agora of Greece and the Forum of Rome, and the Fairs of the Middle Ages were such exchanges, but negotiable incomes (stocks and bonds) did not then exist. At the present time no person of intelligence keeps surplus money uninvested. He buys some interest-bearing security, or puts it in a savings bank, in which case the savings bank buys an interest-bearing security, or employs it in such manner as to yield an income."

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The Money Market

"The Money Market," explains Horace White, in a recent issue of The Annals of the American Academy, "consists of the loanable funds in the country. The money which people are using in their daily business, which passes from hand to hand in retail trade is no part of the money market. Such money is not marketable, because it cannot be recalled from the immediate service which it is rendering to society. The bulk of loanable funds of the country consists of bank credits which are bottomed on gold, and the magnitudes of such credits is limited by the amount of 'lawful money' held by the banks as reserves. Bank notes are not available as reserves of National Banks, although they are such for State Banks and Trust Companies.

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Trust Companies.

Trust Companies, in nearly all the States, have most of the characteristics of the State Banks. Besides having authority to execute trusts, they may receive deposits, lend money on real estate and any other security, and their reserve requirements are lower than for National Banks. In fact they are not a distinct class of banking institutions, but only State Banks with additional powers.

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