The defence of cosmopolitan capitalism by Sir Charles Addis, 1914-1919: A microhistorical study of a classical liberal banker in wartime

Andrew Smith*, Maki Umemura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study focuses on the efforts of Sir Charles Addis to defend the pre-1914 system of cosmopolitan capitalism. Our central research question is to understand why this merchant banker fought in preserve cosmopolitan capitalism when so many of his peers acquiesced in and even championed its demise. Addis’s moral ideal was an international economic order in which the nationality of firms was irrelevant to the strategies of managers. The First World War dramatically increased the salience of firm nationality in international business. Addis, who was a committed classical liberal, fought against this trend to a degree that is hard to explain with reference to economic self-interest alone. The article, which is based on a range of sources including Addis’s diary, explores Addis’s connections to, and views of, ‘German’ bankers, his relations with the British government, and the political economy of the reparations imposed on Germany by the Versailles Peace settlement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1666-1683
Number of pages18
JournalBusiness History
Volume64
Issue number9
Early online date15 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • First World War
  • banking
  • economic nationalism
  • firm nationality

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