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Bankers and EmpireHow Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean$
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Peter James Hudson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226459110

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226459257.001.0001

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Imperial Government

Imperial Government

(p.177) Six Imperial Government
Bankers and Empire

Peter James Hudson

University of Chicago Press

The banking crisis of 1920-21 forced a house-cleaning on the part of the National City Bank of New York, and a rethinking of its strategies for internationalization. A new executive, Charles E. Mitchell, was appointed, and a new group of managers, including Joseph H. Durrell, were hired. Mitchell and Durrell came to define the City Bank’s history during the 1920s with Durrell becoming central to the bank’s foreign operations. While under Mitchell, the National City Company became and increasingly critical for the bank’s domestic profits, especially through the marketing of securities and bonds, under Durrell the foreign branch network was pared back and a strategy of savings and thrift became key to the City Bank’s imperial operations. At first, such a shift proved profitable. However, by the end of the decade the Caribbean’s ongoing economic malaise sounded warning signs within the bank concerning the sustainability of imperial banking. There were also increasing protest from Caribbean citizens against the dominant presence of foreign banks and the practices of US imperialism. Based on the previously-unused private papers of Durrell, this chapter recounts the history of the City Bank’s shifts in imperial policy in the Caribbean and the beginnings of Caribbean anti-banking protest.

Keywords:   governmentality, thrift, savings, foreign banking, imperialism, branch banking, sovereign debt, anti-banking, sovereignty, anti-imperialism

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