State Bank of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

State Bank of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


(Gosbank), the single Soviet cash, issue, and clearing center, the main bank for crediting and financing the national economy and the population. Until 1923 it was called Gosbank of the RSFSR. It was founded on the initiative of V. I. Lenin, who on Oct. 4, 1921, signed a decree of the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) on the establishment of the Gosbank of the RSFSR. The decree was ratified by the fourth session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on Oct. 7, 1921. By a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on July 6, 1923, the Gosbank of the RSFSR was reorganized as the Gosbank of the USSR.

During the first year of its activities Gosbank performed only credit and clearing operations. It was granted the right to issue bank notes by a decree of the Sovnarkom on Oct. 11, 1922. Other credit institutions of the USSR do not have this right of issue. Gosbank was also charged with the issue of treasury notes and coins.

The Soviet government used Gosbank as an important economic institution at all stages in the development of the Soviet state: to eliminate capitalist elements and strengthen the socialist system, to further the industrialization and collectivization of the country, to fulfill the first five-year plans, and to ensure the victory of socialism. Gosbank played an important role during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) and in the postwar reconstruction and subsequent development of the nation’s economy. Under the economic reform carried out in the USSR beginning in 1966 and the rapid expansion in the use of the credit method of national economic financing, Gosbank plays an important role in solving economic and political problems and in building the material and technical bases of communism. In 1971 the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU assigned Gosbank the task of promoting a more complete mobilization of the reserves of social production and improving production efficiency.

Gosbank issues cash and manages money circulation in the USSR; carries out short-term crediting of the national economy; and implements financing and long-term crediting of capital investments for consumers’ cooperatives, forestry and water management bodies, rural populations, and agricultural, procurement, and other types of enterprises and organizations. Gosbank also manages savings, performs national economic calculations, and carries out cash fulfillment of the state budget, international credit and clearing operations, and operations with precious metals and foreign currency.

The Gosbank of the USSR is the largest bank in the world. In 1970 the bank had 4,135 offices, serving more than 978,000 industrial enterprises, sovkhozes, kolkhozes, commercial and other organizations, and individual borrowers. Its clients had 4.2 million payment, current, and loan accounts. In 1970 the sectors of the national economy were issued 934 billion rubles in short-term loans, approximately 3 billion rubles in long-term loans, and more than 12 billion rubles (not including operations by agreement with the Stroibank [Construction Investment Bank] of the USSR) under the capital investment financing system. The carry-over liability on Jan. 1, 1971, for short-term loans amounted to 100.1 billion rubles, which included 36.1 billion rubles for industry, 31.1 billion rubles for trade, and 17.5 billion rubles for agriculture and procurement. The payment turnover passing through the bank in 1970 amounted to approximately 1,480 billion rubles; there were 80.1 million deposit accounts, holding 46.6 billion rubles on Jan. 1, 1971, in 78,300 savings bureaus and agencies. In 1970 the savings bureaus conducted 1,227,000,000 transactions.

Gosbank plays an important role in carrying out international account and currency transactions. Correspondent relations of Gosbank and the Bank for Foreign Trade of the USSR with foreign banks, including Soviet banking operations abroad with Gosbank as the principal shareholder are being expanded. The legal status of the bank is determined by its charter, which is approved by the Council of Ministers of the USSR. The chairman of the board of Gosbank is appointed by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The bank is a rigidly centralized system. It is under the direction of a board and has a central apparatus, with state labor savings bank bureaus and administrative offices in the Union republics, krais, oblasts, and autonomous Soviet socialist republics, as well as agencies and an extensive network of savings bureaus.


Pervyi god deiatel’nosti. Moscow, 1922. (An account of Gosbank.)
Chetyre goda sushchestvovaniia Gosudarstvennogo banka SSSR 1921–1925. Samara, 1925.
Gosudarstvennyi bank SSSR k VII Vsesoiuznomu s”ezdu Sovetov. Moscow, 1935.
Deneihnoe obrashchenie i kreditnaia sistema Soiuza SSR za 20 let: Sb. vazhneishikh zakonodatel’nykh materialov. Moscow, 1939.
Gosudarstvennyi bank SSSR: Kratkii ocherk. Moscow, 1957.
Kreditno-denezhnaia sistema SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Atlas, M. Razvitie Gosudarstvennogo banka SSSR. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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