From Buildings and Loans to Bail-Outs: A History of the American Savings and Loan Industry, 1831-1995

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This first complete history of the American thrift industry traces its development from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century through the resolution of the savings and loan crisis in the 1990s. Because S&Ls offer affordable forms of consumer finance, these institutions have helped millions of people achieve the "American Dream" of home ownership. Although the thrift crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s dealt a severe blow to the financial health and reputation of the industry, this book reveals the ways government resolved it, and how the industry was reinvented in its aftermath.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mason has produced a readable introduction to the S&L industry. Recommended." R. Grossman, Wesleyan University, CHOICE

"[T]he first complete history of the savings and loan industry." Towns Country Herald

"Mason shows that thrifts, though European in origin, thrived in the US because they became the quintessential American institutions, ones based on voluntary association, dedicated to self-help and, ultimately, egalitarian in spirit and operation. Thrifts were run by and for the Irish, for Catholics, for Slovaks, for Poles, for railroad workers and for shopkeepers. There were even thrifts run by and for women and blacks long before other institutions welcomed or served them. Mason repeatedly reminds us that the thrift industry was envisioned as a leveling mechanism, one that promoted home ownership and renewed their participants' faith in the American dream." Howard Bodenhorn, Associate Professor of Economics, Lafayette College

"Here is a compact, authoritative, well-written history of the savings and loan industry from its modest start in 1831 to its partial recovery at the end of the twentieth century. Dr. David Mason has used his training as a business historian, as well as almost a decade of banking experience, to good advantage. Political as well as economic forces are thoughtfully presented. From Building and Loans to Bail-Outs reflects painstaking research." Benjamin J. Klebaner, Professor of Economics, The City College of the City University of New York

"...excellent, well-researched and well-written.."

"In this readable and well-paced treatment Mason places the S&L crisis into the broad historical sweep of the American thrift industry. Mason traces the development of the symbiotic, complex and sometimes dysfunctional relationship between the thrift industry's trade group and federal government regulation with meticulous scholarship and a keen eye for the broader social and economic context. The notes and references by themselves offer a valuable resource for any scholar interested in the field." Kenneth Snowden, Bryan School of Business and Economics, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

"Anyone studying the savings and loan industry in the United States will have to consult this book. Its lengthy footnotes, as well as its text, serve as a valuable guide for researchers." - American Historical Review, Marc Egnal, York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521827546
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Pages: 349
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

David L. Mason is Assistant Professor of History at Young Harris College. Prior to earning his PhD in Business History from Ohio State University, he served as a corporate banker for nearly a decade, holding positions at the Bank of America and the Resolution Trust Corporation. He is also the author of articles for Essays in Economic and Business History and Proceedings of the Ohio Academy of History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. A Movement Takes Shape 1831-1899; 2. The Rise of the League 1900-1929; 3. From State to Federal Oversight; 4. The Movement becomes an Industry 1930-1945; 5. The Glory Years 1946-1955; 6. External Challenges and Internal Divisions 1956-1966; 7. Lost Opportunities 1967-1979; 8. Deregulation and Disaster 1979-1988; 9. Resolving the Crisis, Restoring the Confidence 1989-1995; 10. The American Savings and Loan Industry in Perspective; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2007

    a reviewer

    With thrifts like Washington Mutual now among the nation¿s biggest financial institutions, and the excesses of the 1980s still fresh, it¿s hard to believe that savings and loans once were nonprofit cooperatives. Yet, so-called buildings and loans were, in fact, altruistic associations that sought to give working-class people access to credit. Business historian David L. Mason lays out the little-known roots of the S&L industry in this intriguing study. He outlines the cultural, political and economic forces that shaped thrifts. While Mason doesn¿t shy away from the S&L debacle of the 1980s, he makes it clear that he sides with the institutions. Readers looking for dirt on the crisis should look elsewhere. Still, we recommend this thorough report to anyone who¿s curious about the history of the thrift industry.

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