Credit Rationing and Crowding out during the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Hoare's Bank, 1702-1862


Crowding-out during the British Industrial Revolution has long been one of the leading explanations for slow growth during the Industrial Revolution, but little empirical evidence exists to support it. We argue that examinations of interest rates are fundamentally misguided, and that the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century private loan market balanced through quantity rationing. Using a unique set of observations on lending volume at a London goldsmith bank, Hoare's, we document the impact of wartime financing on private credit markets. We conclude that there is considerable evidence that government borrowing, especially during wartime, crowded out private credit.