T H E I N T E R-WA R Y E A R S

devalued their currency since 1931. The government had opted for a deflationary policy, involving strict price and wage controls. In 1936 this policy of shoring up the zloty led the Polish government to establish rigorous control over currency exchange and trading. The largest of the country s banks the foreign exchange banks were asked to support this policy. These were the only banks allowed to provide current accounts in the name of persons or companies domiciled abroad and to carry out money transfers abroad, with the authorisation of the Polish Central Bank.

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The bank s relatively modest capital does not reflect its role as the Polish outpost of one of Europe s largest financial groups ( ). In the second half of the 1930s, Powszechny Bank Związkowy was one of Poland s Big Six private banks 17. It enjoyed great support from its shareholders. All in all, the measures taken to get the bank back on its feet cost them 25.4 million zlotys during the 1933-1937 period.

17. Wojciech Morawski, Słownik Historyczny Bankowości Polskiej do 1939 roku, Warsaw, 1998, p. 172

Top 10 private banks in Poland in 1936

Name Founded Headquarters Capital* Balance Sheet Total*

1. Bank Handlowy w Warszawie 1870 Warsaw 25 191

2. Bank Związku Spółek Zarobkowych 1886 Poznan 20 148

3. Bank Cukrownictwa S.A. 1921 Poznan 12 130

4. Bank Zachodni S.A. 1913 Warsaw 10 74

5. Bank Dyskontowy Warszawski SA 1871 Warsaw 10 68

6. Powszechny Bank Związkowy (SGBP) 1923 Warsaw 8 80

7. DB Szereszowski 1864 Warsaw 6.5

8. Wileński Bank Ziemski 1872 Vilnius 6.3 114

9. Powszechny Bank Kredytowy 1910 Warsaw 5 68

10. Akcyjny Bank Hipoteczny 1867 Lvov 5 56

*Capital and Balance Sheet Total are expressed in millions of zlotys

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