The recent public outcry over the behavior of the banking industry has led the U.K. government to create a Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards to investigate the culture of the industry and report on lessons to be learned.
While they await submissions of evidence, the commission members might contemplate the outcome of an 18th-century inquiry with similar aims. Its object was the Bank of England.
In a country reeling from the loss of the American colonies, anxiety was rising over management of the state’s finances and growing indebtedness. Much like today, the public was intensely angry at supposed corruption among public officials, financiers and the directors of large joint-stock companies. In response, Parliament established a commission to inspect the public accounts. Around the same time, the state also started interfering in the affairs of the East India Company.
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