Bankers’ Acceptances and Foreign Credit Information

This paper examines the connections between the credit practices of US overseas banks and the operation of the Federal Reserve System in the 1910s and 1920s. How did the newly created bankers’ acceptance market affect the day-to-day work of US bankers opening new foreign branches? The paper hypothesizes that US foreign branches played significant role in expanding the geography of US trade, though that role was not necessarily in generating acceptances. Instead, US foreign banks focused on amassing credit information about foreign firms and also in changing the formats of that information. The paper argues that the interplay between public institutions and banks shaped the contours of what financial information did and did not look like.