Irish bank strikes 1966-1976

That is the title of this Wikipedia entry:

The Irish bank strikes between 1966 and 1976 were three strikes of about a years total duration which closed down all the clearing banks in the Republic of Ireland. The strikes provided economists a unique opportunity to study the functioning of a modern economy without access to bank deposits.[

The strikes affected all the associated banks which comprise of the Bank of Ireland, the Allied Irish Banks, the Northern Bank and the Ulster Bank. The strikes lasted from:

  • May 7 – July 30 1966
  • May 1 – November 17, 1970
  • June 28 – September 6, 1976

The longest strike was of six months in 1970. The Central Bank made limited facilities available to non-associated banks to issue cash. Not just financial transactions were affected, many property deals were also affected because the documents were kept in the banks. The country came through reasonably well in business terms despite the bank strike, a large firm Palgrave Murphy failed when the strike ended and settlements were made but its failure was probably inevitable anyway. The strike had little effect on the main economic concerns which were unemployment and industrial unrest caused by inflation.

Of course in contrast to current-day Cyprus, these were not banks otherwise attacked by runs and subject to insolvency.  So it is far from obvious that this Irish success (relatively speaking, that is) would be repeated.  Still, it is one example of how an economy copes once its banking system is shut down.

Here is further information about Ireland, note that “a highly personalized credit system without any definite time horizon for the eventual clearance of debits and credits substituted for the existing institutionalized banking system.”  Furthermore “Public houses and shops emerged as a substitute banking system.”


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