amounts of liquidity, placed its bond issues directly with investors through various government agencies. Private sector borrowers were also especially active from the mid- 1920s up to 1931. The banks also went to the capital market themselves, as did the shipping companies and many industrial sector firms. The banks played an active role in company mergers and acquisitions, such as the 1929 merger between Margarine Unie and Lever Brothers which created what later became today s Unilever Group. Meanwhile the electrical specialist Philips tapped the market with a number of bond issues.

Relations between banks and major corporations became closer, and an increasing number of bankers began to take up seats on the supervisory boards of leading companies, a sign of how they were now moving towards the industrial bank model.

In 1924, relations with investors became somewhat more and more professional, with the establishment of a statistics office at the Amsterdamsche Bank, which began to publish a regular bulletin on the economy. New products such as fixed investment trusts appeared on the market, the first of them investing in the shares of six South African gold-mining companies.

The tragic period of the German occupation (1940-1945) confronted the Netherlands with an entirely new situation. The anti-Jewish measures, initially designed to exclude Jewish people from the world of business, was followed by the deportation and subsequent annihilation of many Dutch Jews. The entire financial sector was subjected to severe regulation and the occupying forces appointed a Verwalter8 to each organisation. Under these circumstances, the Dutch financial market practically came to a standstill.

Regulation, concentration and liberalisation since the Second World War

It was during this period, which lasted half a century, that the world of finance underwent the greatest changes. Commercial banking grew strongly up to the beginning of the 1980s, while the following years saw the advent of investment banking.

Following liberation in 1945 it took several years for the economy to return to normal working conditions. The heavy damage caused by the war led to shortages of consumer goods which, coupled with a lack of foreign exchange, created an excess of domestic liquidity, requiring strict regulation to be maintained. Stabilising the economy called for close supervision of the banking system. The 1948 Bank Act conferred on the national central bank the Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) official responsibility for monetary stability, to which was added in 1952 the task of supervising the overall banking system.

8. A Verwalter was an administrator and liquidator, tasked in particular with selling off all assets belonging to people of Jewish origin.

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