For most Americans, the savings and loan industry is defined by the fraud, ineptitude, and failures of the 1980s. These events, however, overshadow a long history in which thrifts played a key role in helping thousands of households buy homes. First appearing in the 1830s, savings and loans, then known as building and loans, encouraged their working-class members to adhere to the principles of thrift and mutual cooperation as a way to achieve the 'American Dream' of home ownership. This book traces the development of this industry, from its origins as a movement of loosely affiliated collection of institutions, into a major element of America's financial markets. It also analyses how diverse groups of Americans, including women, ethnic-Americans, and African-Americans, used thrifts to improve their lives and elevate their positions in society. The book ends with an analysis of the efforts to rehabilitate the industry in the 1990s.
"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.." EH.net "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