Yokohama Specie Bank 横浜正金銀行 - book project "On an Even Keel": Silver Risk, Trade Finance, and Hedging Strategies around the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Published on (GMT) by Michael Schiltz
This project attempts to analyze Yokohama Specie Bank (hereafter: YSB) related business data, through the recently completed database of YSB’s bi-annually published Midterm Reports or 半季報告 (compiled and arranged as matrices by Schiltz in 2012-2013). Apart from its historical uniqueness (a complete and systematic compilation has never been attempted before), the database’s singularity lies with both the vastness and completeness of the data. Whereas even the most basic archives of several other exchange banks have been lost (e.g. Oriental Banking Corporation), destroyed (e.g. Comptoir d’Escompte), or are only partly available (e.g. HSBC), YSB’s records have been preserved in near totality. Furthermore, a wealth of primary documents (reports of managers, auditors etc.) embeds the data and comments on them. This in itself will make the YSB data a rich testing ground for the microeconomic realities of recent macroeconomic claims with respect to the nature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century world monetary order (see esp. Flandreau/Jobst 2005; 2009). Concretely, the project attempts to make full use of network analytical techniques and software that has only been recently available (cf. infra). Combining thorough archival research with state of the art network research in the social sciences, the database will be used to enhance our understanding of the network of worldwide YSB branches, ‘flow of funds’ (資金循環) within the network and so on. The centrality of a ‘network understanding’ for the study of exchange banks has been realized in earlier research, most importantly in several seminal studies by Itō (1989) and Taira (1984) (for YSB), and Nishimura (1993; 2007) and Yasutomi (2003) (for HSBC). Indeed, it could be said that newer research on YSB largely builds on Itō’s and Taira’s findings. Still, important research opportunities have newly emerged.
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