All banking institutions were nationalized after the government's formal Declaration of Socialism on 20 December 1974. The country's three private commercial banks were placed under the management of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) and, in 1981, under the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (established in 1963), which had 170 branches and $3 billion in total assets as of July 1999. It also holds $1.4 in deposits. Other banks included the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank and the Housing and Savings Bank. A proposal to deregulate the banking sector, giving greater autonomy to the NBE, was introduced by the Council of Ministers in September 1993. Legislation allowing for the establishment of private banks and insurance companies; but not the privatization of existing institutions, or the foreign ownership of such companies; was passed in January 1994. The first private bank, Awash International, started operations at the end of 1994, and had eight branches by 1999. Five other private banks have opened, including Dashen Bank, The Bank of Abyssinia, Wegagen Bank, NIB International, and United Bank. There are no securities exchanges, and Ethiopians are legally barred from acquiring or dealing in foreign securities. A private-sector initiative plans to establish a market for buying and selling company shares by 2000.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $1.4 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $2.8 billion.