Austrian National Bank

   Established in 1816, the bank was modeled on a similar institution in France. Its chief purpose was to bring some order into the chaotic finances and currency fluctuations that had plagued the Habsburg Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. The bank was exclusively empowered to issue currency in the empire and theoretically independent of state influence. Aided by heavy government taxation, which blotted up large quantities of money, the bank played a major role in restoring fiscal order in the Habsburg lands. However, it maintained its position as a chief lender to the government, and extended credit only to a limited number of wealthy clients. It did set up a mortgage department in 1855. Refounded by the First Austrian Republic in 1923, the Austrian National Bank was absorbed by the German Reichsbank following the Nazi Anschluss in March 1938. Gold and currency reserves held by the Vienna institution were transferred to Berlin. An Austrian National Bank was re-created in 1945 and once again given a monopoly on the issuance of currency. The National Banking Act of 1955 constituted it as a joint stock company, with 50 percent of the shares in the hands of the government. The other half was in the hands of various Austrian economic interests such as corporations and businesses. The institution’s role is still to ensure the stability of Austrian currency.
   See also Banking.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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