1st Edition

A History of Public Banking in Portugal in the 19th and 20th Centuries

By Pedro Lains Copyright 2021
    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines the history of what became one of Portugal’s largest banks, the Caixa Geral de Depósitos. The bank was founded in 1876 by the state to run public deposits, and evolved into a savings bank, catering for both public and private deposits. Its history goes beyond the history of banking, as it ties in with the role of the state in the banking sector and financial markets.

    The book weaves in and out of different political and international contexts, following the many changes of the Portuguese political regime and of its interactions with the national and international economy. The most important lesson from the study is that publicly owned institutions can compete successfully with the private sector when they simultaneously cater for the interests of policy makers as well as those of the public, in this case, the depositors. The history of the Caixa Geral de Depósitos therefore shows how the state of a peripheral economy is capable of successfully managing a large financial institution when the right set of incentives is in place.

    This work will be a valuable resource for researchers and students of financial and economic history at both the advanced undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It will also provide interesting insights for practitioners in the financial sector.



    Chapter 1: The rise of public finance, 1820-1870

    The Bank of Lisbon and the Public Credit Board, 1821-1846

    The 1846 financial and the foundation of Bank of Portugal

    1853: the new financial order

    Chapter 2: Financial boom and crisis, 1870-1876

    The liquidity boom, 1870-1876

    The 1876 crisis

    The Public Credit Board reformed once more

    Chapter 3: The establishment of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, 1876-1880

    The Parliamentary debate

    The commencement

    How it worked

    Chapter 4: The establishment of Caixa Económica Portuguesa, 1880-1886

    The debate on the public savings bank

    The plan for the establishment of Caixa Económica Portuguesa

    The wider financial reforms, 1885-1886

    Chapter 5: The financial reform, 1886-1890

    The progressive financial revolution

    A new statue for the Bank of Portugal

    Government control

    Chapter 6: The financial crisis, 1890-1892

    How it started

    The radical solution

    The progressives once more

    Chapter 7: Back to the old order, 1892-1910

    The return of the regeneradores

    The 1896 reform

    Chapter 8: The Republic, 1910-1926

    The new political regime

    The impact on Caixa

    The second Republican reform

    Chapter 9: The new order, 1926-1929

    Before Salazar

    Salazar as Finance Minister

    Beyond public bonds

    The 1929 reform

    The politics of regime change at Caixa

    Chapter 10: The consolidation of the Estado Novo, 1929-1935

    Financial stability

    Credit to the economy

    Social housing and urban improvements

    Caixa and the Empire

    Chapter 11: Public investment, 1935-1950

    The new state and the economy

    The second World War

    After the War

    Chapter 12: Between the state and the market, 1950-1968

    Financial concerns

    The development plans


    The new banking framework

    Chapter 13: Staying behind, 1968-1974

    The technocratic dictator

    The public company

    Hard times

    Chapter 14: The nationalizations and beyond, 1974-1992

    Regime change and the banking sector

    Remittances and construction


    The Caixa and the government

    The acquisition of Banco Nacional Ultramarino

    Chapter 15: Coping with the monetary union, 1992-2010

    The fragile internationalization

    The Iberian ambition

    Following the language





    Pedro Lains (Lisbon, December 1959 – May 2021) was Research Professor at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais, University of Lisbon. His main research interests were Portuguese and European economic history. He has published many books and journal articles in these fields, including a forthcoming edited volume on The Economic History of the Iberian Peninsula, 711–2000.