Microfinance institutions in nineteenth century Ireland
McLaughlin, Eoin Joseph (2009) Microfinance institutions in nineteenth century Ireland. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
This thesis is a comprehensive study which examines the economic, social and political ideology underpinnings of microfinance institutions in Ireland. It also analyses the sources, uses, and consequences of microfinance for the borrower individually and the Irish economy as a whole. The thesis studies the developments of a number of microfinance institutions that operated in nineteenth century Ireland: loan funds, savings banks (TSB and POSB), joint stock banks, Monts-de-Piété, Raiffeisen banks, state-funded land purchase, and emigrant remittances. It utilises financial and microfinancial history as a prism to analyse Irish economic and social history. The thesis concludes by outlining four reoccurring themes that are present throughout: legislative constraints, institutional imitation, economic versus social goals and state intervention. It argues that all the institutions studied experienced legislative constraints, but that only the joint stock banks were able to overcome such constraints. Furthermore, it argues that the legislation encouraged moral hazard which resulted in fraud as it absolved the management of loan funds and savings banks from any liability for the running of those institutions. The thesis argues that the joint stock banks were the only successful institutional imitation as the propagators of these institutions took the existing market into consideration, something not done by others such as the Mont-de-Piété and Raiffeisen Banks. It argues that many of the institutions were promoted on the basis of social rather than economic motivation, and as a result the promoters did not assess economic conditions in the market. Finally, the thesis argues that government intervention in the economy distorted financial markets, through involvement in savings markets and as a long term lender. It argues that the long term lending activities of the state encouraged inefficient investment and hindered long term Irish economic development.
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