- A federal reserve bank for the German Empire, established by the bank law of March 14, 1875. The legal successor of the Prussian central bank, the Reichsbank was officially under the aegis of a board of directors nominated by the German emperor. As the members of the board were appointed for life, the bank’s policy was relatively independent from political intervention.The bank’s tasks were to regulate monetary circulation in the Reich, as well as to circulate paper money. Contrary to the provisions of the Bank of England and those of the Banque de France, the Reichbank’s statutes laid down that only one-third of the circulating money had to be covered by foreign currency and gold. It is important to note that the Reichsbank never was an instrument to manage the economy through conscious monetary policy. During the years of depression, the bank did nothing to stabilize the economy; quite the contrary, its procyclical policy aggravated the existing instability. As the Reichsbank was a privately owned corporation, its main activity was making money. The influence of financiers and businessmen ensured that state intervention continued to be kept at a minimum. Of all national institutions, the shift in power from the old agrarian elite to the new forces of trade and industry became most apparent in the Reichsbank .FURTHER READING:Henning, Friedrich-Wilhelm. Handbuch der Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte Deutschlands. Paderborn: Schöningh, 1991;Lütge, Friedrich. Deutsche Sozialund Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Berlin: Springer, 1960;Seeger, Manfred. Die Politik der Reichsbank von 1976–1914 im Lichte der Spielregeln der Goldwährung. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1968;Stern, Fritz. Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder and the Building of the German Empire. New York: Random House, 1977.ULRICH SCHNAKENBERG
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.