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Edited by Jan Toporowski and Jo Michell
Chapter 23: International banking
Banking has a long international history. The first European banks emerged in Italy in the fourteenth century and were involved in financing trade across much of Europe. In the seventeenth century, when the focus of European commercial capitalism shifted briefly to the Netherlands, Italian banks moved to Amsterdam and, following the so-called Glorious Revolution in Britain in 1688, bankers followed the Orange King William to London, which established itself as the leading international financial centre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with banks predominantly providing finance for trade and sovereign debt (Arrigi, 1994, p. 13). After World War I, New York supplanted London as the principal international banking centre but, in the aftermath of the 1929 crash and subsequent banking crisis, the international economy largely collapsed into currency blocs and international banking was sharply curtailed. After World War II, the major capitalist countries all maintained controls on international capital flows and for many years international banking continued to be very limited.
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