The Interest Group Origins of the Bank of France

Public Choice, Forthcoming

53 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2018 Last revised: 25 Feb 2020

Date Written: June 8, 2018


This paper contrasts different interpretations of the creation of the Bank of France. I argue that the Bank of France was the product of rent-seeking behavior rather than the pursuit of public interest, as is commonly supposed. I explain how the changing institutional constraints faced by both politicians and bankers can account for changes in France’s monetary constitution. The creation of the Bank in 1800 followed the fall of the Directory and the establishment of Napoléon’s autocratic regime. I argue that as parliamentarism and the separation of powers were weakened by Napoléon, the cost of establishing and maintaining a monopoly privilege in banking evaporated and the creation of the Bank of France became more likely.

Keywords: Banking history, French revolution, Napoléon, Central banking

JEL Classification: D72, N23

Suggested Citation

Rouanet, Louis, The Interest Group Origins of the Bank of France (June 8, 2018). Public Choice, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Louis Rouanet (Contact Author)

George Mason University ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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