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This changeover took place in the context of vigorous compe- tition between the major retail banks Crédit Lyonnais, Socié- té Générale, Comptoir d Escompte de Paris, Crédit Industriel and Commercial and Banque de France. Between these two poles, a vast world of banking institutions tried to find its way. The more powerful local banks could aspire to follow the retail bank model and become large regional banks, such as Crédit du Nord, while the more vulnerable banks were bought up by one of the larger banks and converted into branches. Finally, a number of bankers sought to maintain their independence and social prestige at any cost, with the biased support of Banque de France. This dynamic system generated many serious im- balances. Secondly, in July 1914, French public debt was the highest in the world. Yet in that same month, a major national loan was launched to finance the cost of the new law requiring three years of compulsory military service and the various fiscal ex- cesses tied to the military expenditure of the previous years. In effect, France was attempting to get its defence finances in order at the very moment its expenditure was exploding! In this context, the major banks involved in the launch of the national loan of July 1914 were stuck in August with vast amounts of

Artist, Jacques Carlu

Passer-by, do your duty , 3rd National Defence Loan, 1917.

Drawn by Jacques Carlu (1890- 1976), architect and older brother of poster artist Jean Carlu, the poster highlights the solidarity required from the home front to support the troops on the front lines. The artist uses a process known as mise en abyme by depicting, in the background, the main posters printed by French banks to promote the loan.

BNP Paribas, Historical Archives, poster collection. © All rights reserved.