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Montes de piedad and savings banks as microfinance institutions on the periphery of the financial system of mid-nineteenth-century Barcelona

Montes de piedad and savings banks as microfinance institutions on the periphery of the financial... This article departs from the dominant interpretation of montes de piedad as charitable pawnshops, typical of Catholic Europe, by framing the analysis of their activities as microfinance institutions. Fieldwork documents two cases in the industrial city of Barcelona during the mid-nineteenth century. The long established Monte de Piedad de Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza de Barcelona (MPB) offered small loans to the most disadvantaged sectors, with more than 70% of its clients being very low-income women. In contrast, the Montepío Barcelonés covered a broader spectrum, granting larger loans to clients, of whom the majority were working-class men. But during periods of extreme illiquidity, such as the financial and industrial crisis of 1847–48, the Montepío Barcelonés would even support traders and manufacturers. Hence, this article shows how not-for-profit financial institutions, located on the periphery of the new and burgeoning financial system, are able to contribute to mitigating the social costs of industrialisation, through alleviating situations of crisis and adding to the resilience of the financial system as a whole. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Business History Taylor & Francis

Montes de piedad and savings banks as microfinance institutions on the periphery of the financial system of mid-nineteenth-century Barcelona

Business History , Volume 54 (3): 18 – Jun 1, 2012
18 pages

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References (131)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1743-7938
eISSN
0007-6791
DOI
10.1080/00076791.2011.638486
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article departs from the dominant interpretation of montes de piedad as charitable pawnshops, typical of Catholic Europe, by framing the analysis of their activities as microfinance institutions. Fieldwork documents two cases in the industrial city of Barcelona during the mid-nineteenth century. The long established Monte de Piedad de Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza de Barcelona (MPB) offered small loans to the most disadvantaged sectors, with more than 70% of its clients being very low-income women. In contrast, the Montepío Barcelonés covered a broader spectrum, granting larger loans to clients, of whom the majority were working-class men. But during periods of extreme illiquidity, such as the financial and industrial crisis of 1847–48, the Montepío Barcelonés would even support traders and manufacturers. Hence, this article shows how not-for-profit financial institutions, located on the periphery of the new and burgeoning financial system, are able to contribute to mitigating the social costs of industrialisation, through alleviating situations of crisis and adding to the resilience of the financial system as a whole.

Journal

Business HistoryTaylor & Francis

Published: Jun 1, 2012

Keywords: microfinance institutions; montes de piedad; montepío; savings bank; formal credit; informal credit; pawnbrokers; usury; poverty; women and gender; Spain; Barcelona; mid-nineteenth century

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