‘The Internationalization of Banking in Latin America: Foreign Banks and Correspondent Banking Networks (1870-1914)’

This paper offers a panoramic view of the internationalization of banking in Latin America during the first economic globalization (1870-1914) by revising the contours of foreign banks’ entry and expansion in the region, their dominance in financing international trade and the operations of foreign companies, and their relations to global financial centers in the economic core.

The paper describes in broad and comparative terms the entry and expansion of foreign banks in Latin America from the 1870s to World War I. We begin by briefly reviewing the role of British merchant banking firms engaged in Latin American trade and the international debt business from the early nineteenth century. Next, we consider the impact after the 1860s of the entry of British, French, German, and Spanish banking firms on domestic banking systems in Latin America.  We suggest some of the ways that foreign bankers understood local political economies and managed to expand their business despite significant economic and financial crises. Finally, in a closing section, we pay attention to the Caribbean incursions of U.S. and Canadian banks in the first two decades of the twentieth century.

While financial historians have sketched the broad contours of the history of foreign banks in Latin America during the Belle Époque, they have devoted less attention to the establishment of correspondent relations between the region’s entities and banks in economic core centers, such as London, Paris, and New York. Records for the Banco Nacional de México (Banamex) in the Citibanamex Historical Archive (Mexico City) allow us to revisit this question, shedding some light on what can be gathered from locating and analyzing similar sources in other Latin American countries.

Manuel A. Bautista-González  is a Post-Doctoral Researcher on the ERC-funded project Global Correspondent Banking 1870-2000 (GloCoBank). At GloCoBank, Manuel reconstructs and analyzes relations between banks in the economic core (London and New York) with those in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay) in the long twentieth century, using primary sources and quantitative methods. 

Manuel is a financial historian of the Americas, focusing on the United States and Mexico. He holds a B.A. in economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a Ph.D. in United States History from Columbia University in the City of New York, with the dissertation “Gold and Silver Chains. The New Orleans Specie Market under International Bimetallism, 1839-1861,” supervised by David Weiman and Elizabeth Blackmar. 

Manuel has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses at UNAM, Columbia University, the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), and Anáhuac University. He has been a convener of the Financial History Network since its launch in 2020. Outside academia, Manuel was the lead historian in projects to commemorate the 150th anniversary of a global investment bank as a Winthrop Group consultant (2018-2020). He is a contributing writer for Cash Essentials, a discussion platform on retail payments and monetary ecosystems.

Carlos Marichal is a Professor Emeritus in Latin American History at El Colegio de México, a leading public research university in Mexico. Professor Marichal is a specialist in the economic history of Mexico and Latin America. He is the author of several books, including 'A Century of Debt Crises in Latin America' (1989), 'Bankruptcy of Empire' (2007), 'Nueva Historia de las Grandes Crisis Financieras' – a history of global financial crises (2010), 'Historia mínima de la deuda externa de América Latina' – a history of the external indebtedness of Latin America (2014), and most recently 'El nacimiento de la banca en América Latina' (2021), a book on the emergence of banking in Latin America. He has also published many works on intellectual history, international relations, and business history. 

Professor Marichal has been a member of the editorial boards of journals such as Financial History Review, Historia Mexicana, Revista de Historia Económica – Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, and América Latina en la Historia Económica – Latin America in Economic History. He is an enthusiastic promoter of digital history initiatives, including H-Bancaria, a website on the banking history of Spain and Latin America. 

Professor Marichal has been a visiting professor at prestigious universities around the world. He is a founding member and a former president of the Mexican Economic History Association (2001-2004). Professor Marichal is a member of the Mexican National System of Researchers (Level III, emeritus). He received Mexico’s National Prize in Arts and Sciences in 2012. He became an international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2019.