From Crisis to Crisis

The Transformation of Merchant Banking, 1914–1939

  • Brian O'Sullivan

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance book series (PSHF)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 1-39
  3. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 41-79
  4. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 81-107
  5. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 109-138
  6. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 139-162
  7. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 163-188
  8. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 189-223
  9. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 225-249
  10. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 251-284
  11. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 285-328
  12. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 329-351
  13. Brian O’Sullivan
    Pages 353-360
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 361-410

About this book


From Crisis to Crisis examines the impact of the harsh conditions of the interwar economy on the British merchant banks.  The financial crises of 1914 and 1931 are assessed using primary sources. The competitive threats, including the rise of New York as a rival financial centre, are considered. It challenges alleged special treatment and provides fresh perspectives on the interwar rationalisation of industry. 

During the late nineteenth century, Britain’s merchant banks had become pre-eminent in a world of fixed exchange rates, free trade and the unfettered mobility of international capital. This world was increasingly challenged in the interwar period, being replaced by floating exchange rates, trade protectionism and restrictions on capital movements.

This book fills a gap in the historiography of British banking by recovering the histories of long-forgotten merchant banks rather than focusing on the better-known firms. Using a wide range of archival resources, it traces the strategic transformation by some merchant banks from higher-risk, capital intensive activities to lower-risk, advisory services. 


Merchant Banking financial institutions financial history merchant banks Financial Crisis Long-term finance Insular Capitalism British Overseas Banking Strategic Commodities Commodity Trading

Authors and affiliations

  • Brian O'Sullivan
    • 1
  1. 1.Thomas Miller InvestmentKing’s College LondonLondonUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Economics and Finance
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-96697-7
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-96698-4
  • Buy this book on publisher's site