Bankers and EmpireHow Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean

Bankers and EmpireHow Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean

Peter James Hudson

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226459110

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Bankers and Empire reconstructs the history of the expansion of Wall Street’s banking houses and financial institutions (including the precursors to Citigroup and JPMorganChase) into the Caribbean region (including Haiti, Cuba, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) during a period stretching from the end of the nineteenth century until the onset of the Great Depression. The period represents an initial, exploratory era of the internationalization of US banking, and the Caribbean region was Wall Street’s laboratory for foreign expansion. As such, the period was marked by experimentation in the organizational and managerial apparatus of foreign banking, challenges to the legal orders governing the regulation of international trade and finance, and the development and training of a first cohort of international managers and bank officers. In addition, Bankers and Empire demonstrates that this history was as much one of race and culture as it was of economics and money: the putatively financial concerns of Wall Street were embedded in and understood through racist discourses and ideas of racial difference. The book argues that the history of US imperialism, Wall Street’s internationalization, and the development of finance capitalism was braided through the history of racial capitalism. Finally, while the early twentieth century history of Wall Street’s internationalization rode a euphoric wave of US nationalism and expansionism, in reality it was a period marked by its repeated failures. Corruption, military interventions and occupations, financial and economic crises, and Caribbean resistance to imperialism put a brake on Wall Street’s ambitions.