Gentlemen Bankers investigates the social and economic circles of one of America’s most renowned and influential financiers to uncover how the Morgan family’s power and prestige stemmed from its unique position within a network of local and international relationships.
At the turn of the twentieth century, private banking was a personal enterprise in which business relationships were a statement of identity and reputation. In an era when ethnic and religious differences were pronounced and anti-Semitism was prevalent, Anglo-American and German-Jewish elite bankers lived in their respective cordoned communities, seldom interacting with one another outside the business realm. Ironically, the tacit agreement to maintain separate social spheres made it easier to cooperate in purely financial matters on Wall Street. But as Susie Pak demonstrates, the Morgans’ exceptional relationship with the German-Jewish investment bank Kuhn, Loeb & Co., their strongest competitor and also an important collaborator, was entangled in ways that went far beyond the pursuit of mutual profitability.
Delving into the archives of many Morgan partners and legacies, Gentlemen Bankers draws on never-before published letters and testimony to tell a closely focused story of how economic and political interests intersected with personal rivalries and friendships among the Wall Street aristocracy during the first half of the twentieth century.
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Table of Contents
1 Gentlemen Banking Before 1914 12
2 The Social World of Private Bankers 45
3 Anti-Semitism in Economic Networks 80
4 Disrupting the Balance: The Great War 107
5 The Significance of Social Ties: Harvard 137
6 Complex International Alliances: Japan 160
7 The End of Private Banking at the Morgans 192
Conclusion: Writing the History of Networks 219
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gentlemen Bankers uncovers the interlocking complexities between rival banking houses that explain how the House of Morgan established and maintained its predominant position for two generations. Ranging from the era of the robber barons to the Great Depression, Susie Pak's lucid and methodical scholarly analysis reads as easily as a detective novel, as one fact after another is identified and integrated to weave a story of simultaneous social ostracism, economic competition and self-serving collaboration. Scholars in the fields of social, economic and banking history will be well served by the detailed notes and documentation that support Pak's arguments. Gentlemen Bankers will serve as an authoritative resource for insights into the financial world of J. Pierpont Morgan, his son and banker partners, and their competitors.