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What is Central Bank
A central bank has been defined in terms of its functions. According to Vera Smith, “The primary definition of central banking is a banking system in which a single bank has either complete control or a residuary monopoly of note issue.” W.A. Shaw defines a central bank as a bank which control credit. To Hawtrey, a central bank is that which is the lender of the last resort. According to A.C.L. Day, a central bank is “to help control and stabilise the monetary and banking system.”
Activities and responsibilities of Central Bank
According to Sayers, the central bank “is the organ of government that undertakes the major financial operations of the government and by its conduct of these operations and by other means, influences the behaviour of financial institutions so as to support the economic policy of the Government.” Sayers refers only to the nature of the central bank as the government’s bank. All these definitions are narrow because they refer only to one particular function of a central bank.
On the other hand, Samuelson’s definition is wide. According to him, a central bank “is a bank of bankers. Its duty is to control the monetary base…. and through control of this ‘high-powered money’ to control the community’s supply of money.” But the broadest definition has been given by De Kock.
Purpose of Central Bank
In his words, a central bank is “a bank which constitutes the apex of the monetary and banking structure of its country and which performs as best as it can in the national economic interest, the following functions: (i) The regulation of currency in accordance with the requirements of business and the general public for which purpose it is granted either the sole right of note issue or at least a partial monopoly thereof, (ii) The performance of general banking and agency for the state, (iii) The custody of the cash reserves of the commercial banks, (iv) The custody and management of the nation’s reserves of international currency, (v) The granting of accommodation in the form of re-discounts and collateral advances to commercial banks, bill brokers and dealers, or other financial institutions and the general acceptance of the responsibility of lender of the last resort, (vi) The settlement of clearance balances between the banks, (vii) The control of credit in accordance with the needs of business and with a view to carrying out the broad monetary policy adopted by the state.” De Kock’s definition is too long to be called a definition. For, a definition must be brief.
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