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Soviet Banking, 1922–1987: An Analysis of Gosbank Balance Sheets


Motivated by increased availability of monetary data, this study investigates the activity of the Soviet state bank (Gosbank). The analysis shows that the main financial source of Gosbank moved from state budget funds to household deposits in the early 1960s. After that, the expansion of bank financing was based on household deposits. This did not lead to a corresponding development of macroeconomic monetary management because of the lack of a financial market. Further research should be undertaken to quantitatively evaluate the macroeconomic efficiency of the use of bank funds.

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  1. It would be more appropriate to use the term means of settlement used by households and by enterprises instead of cash and non-cash money. Soviet households could use means of settlement in a non-cash form, such as bank transfers and credit cards. Thus, cash money includes non-cash means of settlement. However, non-cash money does not correspond to deposit money. Although deposit money includes household deposits, household deposits were not non-cash money because they were not allowed to be used as means of settlement in the non-household sphere. Despite this ambiguity, I use the terms cash and non-cash money in accordance with the traditional Soviet nomenclature.

  2. Hereafter, the term wage payment includes an enterprise's use of cash money to pay for various monetary benefits to households and small expenses.

  3. The Chervonets banknotes were used until the currency reform of 1947 (Kravtsovaya, 1983, p. 104).

  4. Smirnov (1982, p. 40) wrote that it was necessary to change the item of a bank loan at each step in the production process (ie, stock of material, production costs, sales inventory, distribution, and settlement) because of the restrictive method of granting bank loans.

  5. There were two other major revaluations of the ruble. One was a devaluation from 1.139 ruble/USD to 5.04 ruble/USD on 1 April 1936; the other was an appreciation from 5.3 ruble/USD to 4.0 ruble/USD on 1 March 1950 (Holzman, 1974, pp. 256–258; CBR, 2012). The 1937 devaluation caused an increase in the net foreign assets equivalent to 8% of the balance sheet total as of 1 January 1938; the 1950 appreciation caused a decrease in the net foreign assets equivalent to 1% of the balance sheet total as of 1 January 1951. In both cases, the figures include the changes caused by factors other than the revaluation (Kashin and Mikov, 2010, pp. 38, 38, 54, 55, 82, 122). It is not clear how Gosbank adjusted the differences between the creditor and debtor sides caused by the revaluations.

  6. Batyrev (1939) argued that both cash and non-cash money should be managed in an integrated manner. This issue did not seem to gather serious attention at that time.

  7. The result of the unit root test was not reported because the estimation was performed to find any correlation, spurious or substantial, between cash and non-cash money.

  8. Most of the household deposits held by Gosbank before 1963 were the deposits made by war participants during the war (Kashin and Mikov, 2010, p. 83).

  9. See the reference for the citation style of the archive materials of RGAE.

  10. The Soviet literature explains how the household deposits accepted by Sberekassa were transferred to the Ministry of Finance from 1958 to 1962 in different ways. Allakhverdyan (1962, p. 319) and Melkov (1969, p. 21) wrote that the government borrowed from Sberekassa not in the form of governmental bond sales. Conversely, Soviet statistical materials (RGAE1562/41/543/15–20; RGAE1562/41/654/9) showed the revenue item of the state budget, Government bonds purchased by Sberekassa, during the period in the same way as they did before 1958.

  11. The borrower was not only the economy. The foreign governments borrowed also as discussed above. Moreover, Zakharov (2007, p. 60, 178) wrote that Sberekassa directly loaned a certain amount of its household deposits to the government after 1963. It is unknown whether Gosbank's balance sheets reflect these transactions.


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I would like to thank the members of the Russian historical economic statistics research group for their comments and suggestions in the early stage of this study. I am greatly indebted to Prof. Kuboniwa of Hitotsubashi University, the head of the research group, for helpful advice and the data. I am also grateful to the Editor for the useful comments and suggestions on the earlier draft of this paper and to Sergei Deogtev of the RGAE and Elena Katasonova of the Russian Academy of Sciences for their kind support for my work at the RGAE. This work was financially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 24530392 and 24330085.

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Appendix A

Appendix A

Notations and Sources: When two or more sources give slightly different figures for the same year, the figure of the newer source was taken.

Columns from (a) to (m), Gosbank balance-sheet items: (See Table A1) Kashin and Mikov (2010) for the balance sheet data except for household deposits (HDP) in 1930 to 1961. The balance sheet data for 1922 to 1940 are the data adjusted to the changes in the balance sheet compilation methodology (Kashin and Mikov, 2010, pp. 114–125). MNY: money gold, precious metals, and cash held by Gosbank, EMS: cash emission. EMS does not exclude the cash that Gosbank holds. The cash in circulation (CAS in Table 1) is defined as: CAS=EMSMNY. CFG: credits to foreign governments. The CFG figures with † for 1953 to 1956 are shown for reference; these figures are included in the foreign assets (Kashin and Mikov, 2010, p. 86). The CFG became a separated balance sheet item in 1957. HDP: The HDP figures in italic for 1930 to 1961 were the amounts of the household deposits that Sberekassa held and, thus, were not included in Gosbank’s balance. They are taken from Nakamura (2011, p. 1154). Gosbank’s household deposits were negligible and included in the other liabilities (OL) until the take-over of Sberekassa by Gosbank in 1963. The HDP figures from 1962 and after were the figures shown in the Gosbank’s balance sheets. See Table 1 for the other notations.

Table A1 Balance sheets, nominal produced national income, and state budget.

Column (n): Nominal produced national income (PNI): RGAE7733/4/1052/51 for 1923–1927. The figures for 1928–1931 and 1935 are based on the data in Vainshtein (1969). The amounts of turnover tax were added to the original Vainshtein figures of 1928–1931, following Suhara (2008). The 1933 figure was estimated by Suhara (2008). The 1932, 1934, and 1936 figures were interpolated. RGAE (1562/41/65/36) for the figures of 1937 to 1949. Vainshtein (1968, p. 111), RGAE1562/33s/3108/4, and RAGE1562/33s/4925/2 for 1950 to 1960. Narkhoz (1964, p. 575), Narkhoz (1979, p. 405), Narkhoz (1982, p. 378), Narkhoz (1983, p. 378), Narkhoz (1984, p. 424), and Narkhoz (1990, p. 11) for 1961 to 1987.

Column (o): State budget expenditure (SBE): RGAE (7733/15/491/25, 29) and RGAE (7733/36/1847/119, 127, 129) for 1923–1937. Note the figures for 1923–1937 were adjusted to the budget classification for 1938 and after. RGAE (7733/36/1847/125–6) explains the details of the adjustment. RGAE (1562/41/543/21–25) and RGAE (1562/41/654/9) for 1931–1962 except for 1940–1945. Goskomstat SSSR (1990. p. 15) for 1940–1945. Narkhoz (1962, p. 635), Narkhoz (1963, p. 654), Narkhoz (1964, p. 770), Narkhoz (1965, p. 781), Narkhoz (1968, p. 774), Narkhoz (1969, p. 770), Narkhoz (1970, p. 730), Narkhoz (1975, p. 742), Narkhoz (1980, p. 522), Narkhoz (1982, p. 521), Narkhoz (1984, p. 573), Narkhoz (1985, p. 559), Narkhoz (1990, p. 16) for the other years.

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Nakamura, Y. Soviet Banking, 1922–1987: An Analysis of Gosbank Balance Sheets. Comp Econ Stud 55, 167–197 (2013).

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  • Soviet economy
  • bank
  • money
  • finance
  • flow of funds

JEL Classifications

  • E50
  • N14
  • P24
  • P34