As Adrian N. Ionescu wrote in an article called „What the Romanian Stock Exchange was after the Great Union and is no longer“, the biggest companies of Great Romania were listed on the Certificates, Shares and Exchange Market. 60-year mortgages and commercial certificates were also traded. The total value of transactions on the Bucharest stock exchange exceeded 10.5 percent of GDP in 1926. That’s a huge percentage compared to the one today.
The general public knows next to nothing about Romania’s inter-war economic history: the most important companies, their turnovers, how many were listed on the stock exchange, how many banks there were, the infrastructure we had, or the names of entrepreneurs. And a people that doesn’t know its history is like a child that doesn’t know his parents, as Nicolae Iorga used to say.
But even if nobody made any effort to enlighten Romanians, probably so that they wouldn’t realize that they had the weakest leaders of the past hundred years who, despite their efforts, won’t be named in the history books, those who know where to look will find data that shows a well-established economy from the point of view of non-tradable goods, compared to the current moment, when the prices of those goods are out of balance, if we were looking at it in terms of purchasing power. This can be seen in the cost of utilities, as well as in healthcare and education performance.
Utilities prices are used to control aggregate demand, just like taxes. Which means that when malfunction was found, there were no attempts to rebalance through supply and productivity, but by suppressing demand, as part of agreements with the IMF, which caused us to have a very troubled economy, compared to the inter-war period, when prices were well-adjusted.
If aggregate supply was stimulated and demand wasn’t limited, education and healthcare wouldn’t have been sacrificed.
The president highlighted the fact that we need a new economic development model. That’s true, of course, so let’s browse our libraries and relearn our grandparents’ capitalism, since the president told us that „in economics, we need a healthy, long-term vision that can bring Romanians sustainable prosperity.“
Going back to the beginning, to the Great Union, after all the pains of the war and the crisis, the economy developed coherently with the help of the capital market. We’ve been over this subject before; now I want you to learn, with the help of Victor Axenciuc, about the „queens“, now known as blue chips.
Astra Română, the largest oil company in Romania, founded in 1910 with a capital of 29.4 million, was owned by the British-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell. It increased its capital to over two billion by 1938, a year when it extracted and refined a quarter of the country’s oil production. The company’s shares were listed in Bucharest, Paris, Amsterdam and Anvers.
Steaua Română, appeared in 1895 with a social capital of 2 million lei, which grew to one billion in 1938. Until the First World War, the company had German capital, and later French-British and Romanian. In 1938, it was refining over a tenth of the total extracted crude oil and was listed in Bucharest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Basel.
Creditul minier was an oil company with national capital, which went from 10 million lei in 1919 to 630 million lei in 1938, when it refined 6 percent of the Romanian Kingdom’s crude oil production.
Industria Română de Petrol (IRDP) was a company with Romanian capital, created in 1920. By 1938, its capital grew sixfold, to 600 million lei. It refined over 2 percent of the country’s oil output.
Mica was founded in 1920 with a capital of 21 million lei, mainly Romanian. It had 60 percent of Romania’s gold production and expanded to other sectors in the 1940s: oil, mining, metallurgical, chemical, textiles and paper.
Letea, created in 1881, becomes, in 1938, after the acquisition of the paper factory Zărneşti the largest company of profile.
Reșița – Uzinele de Fier had its origins in the old Banat mining company STEG. It becomes a joint stock company in 1920, and is declared a national military interest company in 1923, which is why 60 percent of its shares must be owned by Romanian capital. In two decades, Resita became the largest arms conglomerate in Romania, with equity in the coal industry.
The Romanian building, a construction company created in 1919 with a capital of 20 million. In 1936 he owned - especially in the center of Bucharest - 12,000 square meters of buildings.
The National Bank of Romania was created in 1880 with a paid-in capital of 12 milllion lei. In 1938, its capital was 600 million lei. In some periods, the state owned up to 30 percent of the bank’s capital. BNR o«ered large dividends to its shares, which significantly increased the price of a share negotiated on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
Banca Românească was one of the largest credit institutions with native capital. It was founded in 1911, based on a 17.5 million lei subscription. In 1938, the capital reached 350 million. It also had equity in numerous industrial and banking companies.
The national industrial credit resulted - in 1942 - through the merger of the national industrial credit company with the mining credit institute. The National Industrial Credit Company (SNCI) was created in 1924, obviously, to finance the degree field and was a representative of the NBR, because most of the loans came from the issuing bank. The state participated with 20% in the capital of SNCI, and the NBR with 30%..
Dacia România was an insurance company, founded in 1878 with foreign capital. In 1881 it merged with the Romania company. In 1909, it was incorporated into what would later became the largest insurance company in Romania, Patria. The big insurer had a capital of 60 million lei in 1938
Societatea anonimă de navigațiune pe Dunăre (SRD) was created in 1914 by a group of large domestic banks and capitalists. The capital increased from 7.2 million to 80 million. The company’s activity focused on Danube navigation and ship construction.
The tram company in Bucharest (STB) was established in 1909. The capital advanced from 3 to 300 million, of which part belonged to the municipality of Bucharest. STB operates 340 buses and 570 tram cars.
The Telephone Company (SART) was established in 1930 by International Telephon & Telegraph (ITT), which took over the assets of the autonomous PTT directorate following the 1929 foreign loan arrangement. In 1938, the capital of the company reached over 1.6 billion lei. In 1941-1942, the NBR repurchases the shares from the American owner.
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