Jonathan Hearn
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From the Bank of Scotland’s origins to HBOS and crisis
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The Royal Bank of Scotland was established in 1727 and until 1746 it and Bank of Scotland (BoS) controlled public banking in Scotland. The merger to form HBOS can be viewed as a late episode in a long trend in both Scottish and British banking. HBOS was formed near the peak of a general expansion of the British banking system, part of the new, neoliberal centrality of the financial sector to the UK economy. As a bank, Halifax was flush with mortgage assets, but underdeveloped in areas such as treasury functions and corporate finance, and thus was ripe to join forces with a more established bank. BoS managed to stay minimally exposed to the 'secondary banking crisis' of 1973-5. A decade later, BoS was minimally exposed to the over-exposure of many London banks recycling petrodollars into loans to Latin American countries that eventually defaulted in the mid-1980s.

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