Yesterday I had the privilege of giving a talk on my book Banking in Crisis to a packed audience at the Bank of England. The Bank has always taken banking history seriously. For example, it has commissioned several histories over the past 70 years - the most recent being Forrest Capie's Bank of England. The Bank is also holding a series of roundtables on past banking crises. I attended the first one of these yesterday, which was on the City of Glasgow crash. Charles Goodhart, Forrest Capie and I sat as external contributors to the roundtable and we were very impressed by the work done by the four economists who spoke about the City of Glasgow crisis.
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of