A State-Owned Bank for Small Farmers in Chile, c.1926-1953

Abstract: This article deals with the creation and operation of the first agricultural development bank ever created in Chile, the Caja de Crédito Agrario (CCA), founded in 1926, in operations until 1953. The main sources are the annual reports of CCA from 1933 to 1951. The main contributions are to show first that the CCA was instrumental to provide subsidized long-term capital to small farmers in Chile to promote agricultural production, but that also had a “social mission”. The CCA soon became a protagonist within the local financial market. Given the lack of knowledge about the modus operandi of development banks in Latin America, we provide the first account of the management and financial activities of the CCA. We show that the management structure of the firm, and in particular its strategy of decentralization, was key to explain its success. Likewise, the CCA managed successfully to raise increasing amounts of capital from other state institutions at low interest rates, thus being able to cover its increasing loan operations.