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The Balance Sheet of the London Clearing Banks

Category: Concept of the Bank and the Banking System

Таbl. 7 shows the balance sheet of the London clearing banks. Although more complex, it is not fundamentally different from the balance sheet of the goldsmith-banker shown in Таbl 6. We’ll begin by discussing the asset side of the balance sheet.

The Balance Sheet of the London Clearing Banks.





Sterling: Cash Bills and market loans



Lending in other currencies Miscellaneous assets









Sterling: Sight deposits

Time deposits


Deposits in other currencies Miscellaneous liabilities





46,2 31,8


Cash assets are notes and coin in the banks’ vaults. However, modem banks’ cash assets also include their cash reserves deposited with the Bank of England. The Bank of England (usually known as the Bank) is the central bank or banker to the commercial banks.

Apart from cash, the other entries on the asset side of the balance sheet show money that has been lent out or used to purchase interest-earning assets. The second item, bills and market loans, shows short-term lending in liquid assets.

Liquidity refers to the speed and the certainty with which an asset can be converted back into money, whenever the asset-holders desire. Money itself is thus the most liquid asset of all.

The third item, advances, shows lending to households and firms. A firm that has borrowed to see it through a sticky period may not be able to repay whenever the bank demands. Thus, although advances represent the major share of clearing bank lending, they are not very liquid forms of bank lending. The fourth item, securities, shows bank purchases of interest-bearing hug-term financial assets. These can be government bonds or industrial shares. Although these assets are traded daily on the stock exchange, so in principle these securities can be cashed in any time the bank wishes, their price fluctuates from day to day. Banks cannot be certain how much they will get when they sell out. Hence financial investment in securities is also illiquid.

The final two items on the asset side of the balance sheet show lending in foreign currencies and miscellaneous bank assets. Total assets of the London clearing banks were £200,1 billion. We now shall examine how the equivalent liabilities were made up.

Deposits are chiefly of two kinds: sight deposits and time deposits. Whereas sight deposits can be withdrawn on sight whenever the depositor wishes, a minimum period of notification must be given before time deposits can be withdrawn. Sight deposits are the bank accounts against, which we write cheques, thereby running down our deposits without giving the bank any prior warning. Whereas most banks do not pay interest on sight deposits or cheque (checking) accounts, they can afford to pay interest on time deposits. Since they have notification of any withdrawals, they have plenty of time to sell off some of their high- interest investments or call in some of their high-interest loans in order to have the money to pay out deposits.

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are an extreme form of time deposit where the bank borrows from the public for a specified period of time and knows exactly when the loan must be repaid. The final liability items in Таbl. 7 show deposits in foreign currencies, miscellaneous liabilities, such as cheques, in the process of clearing.

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