Bridges and Bonds: the role of British merchant bank intermediaries in Latin American trade and finance networks, 1825-1850

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Abstract

In the first half of the nineteenth century, transatlantic trade and finance networks were complex webs of transactions often consisting of lengthy chains of connections linking distant firms to distant markets. As a number of scholars have shown, merchant bankers of the nineteenth century were at the centre of many of these networks, acting as an inter-connected and often impenetrable group, which dictated the flow of capital and investment across many borders. Most recently, scholars such as Manuel Llorca-Jaña, Lopez-Morell and Juliette Levy (to name a few) have produced a number of especially significant publications on the role of financial intermediaries in Latin America. Llorca-Jaña and Lopez-Morrell’s work has been essential for illuminating the role of London bankers Huth & Co. and Rothschilds (respectively) in creating a global network which included Latin American markets and trades; while Levy’s work has highlighted the role of special financial players in inland markets, namely in the Yucatan. This paper aims to build on this previous work through an analysis of crucial network actors in Anglo-American merchant bank networks in the first half of the nineteenth century. To conduct a varied and general analysis, this paper will draw on the correspondence records of the Baring Brothers and N. M. Rothschilds, two of the most well-known and profitable London merchant banks of the period. Through this material, this study will present an analysis of British merchant-bank connectivity and the role of intermediaries in connecting merchant banks to distant markets and clients, such as the mining districts of interior Mexico and the sugar merchants of Cuba.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-493
Number of pages41
JournalEnterprise & Society: The International Journal of Business History
Volume21
Issue number2
Early online date4 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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