Monday, November 2, 2009

Bankers Are Always Busily Engaged Preaching the Homely Virtue of Thrift

This segment of an essay by economist Alvin H. Hansen from the 1920 book The New American Thrift, reminds us that there was a time when bankers were in the business of promoting savings, not pushing credit cards and other consumer debt.

This one was from 1915.

In 1913, Bankers Magazine ran a long article on the "Nationwide Thrift Movement."

On every side we see signs of a great awakening Editors in their newspapers are pointing out the necessity for conservation and clergymen in their pulpits are preaching the folly and criminality of waste The idea that greater thrift is essential in private life in business life in the home the school and the workshop is slowly but surely taking root In order to foster and encourage this great work the American Bankers Association has invited GY Clement originator of the idea of observing February 3 of each year as National Thrift Day and Chief of Staff of the Collins Publicity Service of Philadelphia to cooperate in the Nation Wide Thrift Movement With this end in view Mr Clement has recently perfected a textbook for use in the inauguration and operation of a community thrift campaign This text book or Plan A as it is called is at once a most unique and original plan As far as a thrift campaign is concerned it can have no serious rival inevitably it must make and maintain a position of its own.

The article goes on to describe a coordinated marketing campaign designed to promote thrift.

Plan A provides a scientific publicity movement initiated by bankers and then permanently continued by public spirited citizens in every walk of life It points the way by which may be secured the necessary co operation of the local newspapers the clergy employers of labor principals of schools, scoutmasters of boy scouts etc. These co operating in turn with the local business association board of trade the YMCA and women's club represent a force that cannot fail to exert a mighty influence for good on behalf of any community.

It included posters:

And even sermon topic ideas to pass along to local preachers:

It has been recommended by the American Bankers Association and will commend itself to every banker who gives it his consideration The text book demonstrates how easily a group of public spirited citizens may be banded together in a productive thrift campaign and how with a little effort and a small expenditure of money the seed of a bountiful harvest for the community at large may be sown Plan A puts the banker shoulder to shoulder with the people and bridges the gulf that too often exists between him and them As a result of its campaign of education it creates greater confidence in both the bank and the banker and clears the track for great results.