The Establishment and Activities of a Banking Syndicate: The “Red Cross” Stock Exchange
This article considers the activity of the syndicate also known as the “Red Cross” stock exchange. The authors study a unique case in Russia’s economic life where the State Bank established a syndicate based on the leading credit facilities of the empire in order to regulate the stock market. The study refers to archival materials form the Russian State Historical Archive, more particularly, business documents of the central office of the State Bank, the St Petersburg branch of the Bank, and the special Credit Chancellery. The authors employ traditional research methods, providing an objective systematic analysis of certain historical processes in the Russian economy and society. According to the government and St Petersburg bankers, the syndicate that appeared at the very start of the economic crisis of 1890 and 1903 was supposed to mitigate the negative consequences of the crisis for certain industrial enterprises and banks. The paper considers the first period of its existence from 1899 to 1911. Established at the initiative of Minister of Finance S. Yu. Witte and made up of the largest banks and banking houses, the syndicate was directly controlled by the State Bank, which provided it with resources for operations on the capital stock exchange. Operated by the country’s main bank, the syndicate enjoyed a certain amount of freedom, which allowed it buy dividend bonds. It is noteworthy that allocating the necessary funds for these exchange operations, the State Bank secured itself against potential losses, as all potential risks were to be managed by the banking union. Obviously, it was these conditions between the State Bank and the syndicate that enabled the latter to operate with some independence, pursuing its own commercial interests. The authors conclude that its operations at the exchange were conditioned by its own idea of the importance of certain dividend bonds for the stock exchange, which was reflected in the securities it bought. The syndicate’s operations on the St Petersburg Stock Exchange were contradictory, as its decisions were not always successful. However, it managed to avoid considerable losses and finished its operations with a profit in 1911.
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