Le crédit industriel et la Société Générale des Pays-Bas pendant le régime hollandais (1815-1830).

Industrial Credit And The Societe General Des Pays-Bas During The Dutch Rule (1815-1830): At the beginning of the Dutch period, the financial market in the Belgian provinces was poorly developed. The most obvious deficiency was the absence of a powerful commercial bank. This situation was corrected by the creation of the "Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'industrie nationale" (or General Company of the Netherlands for the promotion of the national economy) by King William I. The outstanding innovative feature of this institution was that, as its name indicates, it was to promote economic development in general, including industry. The bank did improve credit conditions in this field during the first decade of its existence, although these improvements were limited in scope. It has made only a few direct loans to certain industrialists backed by the Dutch government. It was clearly an exceptional practice. Its short term operations, especially the discounting of commercial paper, were of relative importance, although the establishment of branches in the provinces helped to reduce the cost of credit. It is remarkable that about four fifths of the funds involved in the discount operations benefited the coal and the metal trade. As a matter of fact, this credit was middle term, rather than short term credit, since an important part of the bills involved represented ficticious commercial transactions and were automatically renewed at maturity. The funds this advanced constituded not only the circulating capital of the firms involved, but were also used to increase means of production. Moreover, because of the availability of this credit, the entrepreneurs succeeded in eliminating financial intermediaries in the distribution sector of the coal fade. Finally, the existence of the service allowed the capitalist entrepreneurs to use their own funds to buy out numerous small shareholders who blocked the management of the old coal mining companies. Although it was not the result of a deliberate policy, by extending its loaning practices, the bank of the Société Générale thus laid the first stone of its future industrial empire, since at the outbreak of the revolution in 1830 and the following economic depression, the firms could not repay the debts accumulated during the preceding years. They constituted the first firms in which the bank acquired a controlling interest when it entered upon a career as an investment bank in 1836.