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What Does Finance Want? from Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War

In: Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War

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  • Jonathan Kirshner

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

In Appeasing Bankers , Jonathan Kirshner shows that bankers dread war--an aversion rooted in pragmatism, not idealism. "Sound money, not war" is hardly a pacifist rallying cry. The financial world values economic stability above all else, and crises and war threaten that stability. States that pursue appeasement when assertiveness--or even conflict--is warranted, Kirshner demonstrates, are often appeasing their own bankers. And these realities are increasingly shaping state strategy in a world of global financial markets. Yet the role of these financial preferences in world politics has been widely misunderstood and underappreciated. Liberal scholars have tended to lump finance together with other commercial groups; theorists of imperialism (including, most famously, Lenin) have misunderstood the preferences of finance; and realist scholars have failed to appreciate how the national interest, and proposals to advance it, are debated and contested by actors within societies. Finance's interest in peace is both pronounced and predictable, regardless of time or place. Bankers, Kirshner shows, have even opposed assertive foreign policies when caution seems to go against their nation's interest (as in interwar France) or their own long-term political interest (as during the Falklands crisis, when British bankers failed to support their ally Margaret Thatcher). Examining these and other cases, including the Spanish-American War, interwar Japan, and the United States during the Cold War, Appeasing Bankers shows that, when faced with the prospect of war or international political crisis, national financial communities favor caution and demonstrate a marked aversion to war.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Kirshner, 2007. "What Does Finance Want? from Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War," Introductory Chapters,in: Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War Princeton University Press.
  • Handle: RePEc:pup:chapts:8555-1
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    Cited by:

    1. Rachel A. Epstein, 2014. "Assets or liabilities? The politics of bank ownership," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 765-789, August.
    2. Patrick E. Shea, 2016. "Borrowing Trouble: Sovereign Credit, Military Regimes, and Conflict," International Interactions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(3), pages 401-428, May.
    3. Paul Hallwood & Ronald MacDonald & Ian Marsh, 2011. "Remilitarization and the End of the Gold Bloc in 1936," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 305-321, September.

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