This is a study of the emergence, growth, and performance of British multinational banks from their origins in the 1830s until the present day. British-owned banks played leading roles in the financial systems of much of Asia and the southern hemisphere during the nineteenth century and after. In the 1970s and 1980s they made large investments in California and elsewhere in the United States. They played major roles in the finance of international trade, in international diplomacy, in the birth of the Eurodollar market, and in the world debt crisis. This is the first modern general history of these banks. It is based on a wide range of confidential banking archives in Britain, Australia, and Hong Kong, most of which were previously unavailable. Geoffrey Jones reveals, for the first time, details of the real profits and secret reserves of these banks, and uses these data in a unique analysis of their financial performance over more than a century. Jones places this new empirical evidence in the context of modern theories of multinational enterprise and of competitive advantage. This is a lucidly written and fascinating study, which will be of importance not only to historians, but to anyone concerned with contemporary multinational banking.
"Geoffrey Jones weaves together the insights of a variety of subjects into an instructive, comprehensive, and enjoyable read. He ranges effortlessly over such diverse topics as principal-agent issues in banking and their implications for bank organization; the complexities of the relationship between British banks and British foreign policy, and how British bankers and diplomats tried to use each other for their own ends; and the intricacies of bank corporate culture in the Victorian period, and how that culture served bank interests. He has some intriguing and even delightful insights."--Business History Review
"A first-class comprehensive study of British overseas banking from its origins in Australia and Canada in the 1830s to the global debt crisis of the 1980s by a proven historian of British business."--Albion