Bullets and Banknotes: War Financing through the Twentieth century

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Date / time
13/11/2020, All day

This online workshop calls for reflection on the financing of war and the monetary considerations that dogged belligerent powers through the bellicose twentieth century.

Register here

For further information, contact the organiser David Foulk.

The global nature of conflict, alongside interconnected financial networks, drastically altered and, in turn, spawned ideologically motivated regimes. These were aided by improvements in mass communication technology and a nascent global corporatism that replaced the empire-building of the long nineteenth century.

War financing supported the action of regular and irregular military units. The funds came from a variety of places; legitimate sources, such as direct governmental stimulus, central banking activity, or funds stemming from fiscal activity. Private sources must also be considered. Donations have proven a viable means of financing paramilitary activity. Was this support given for reasons of ideological support, or born from a desire to be found on the right side of history?

The particularity of war economics is the ability of an occupier to extract economic resources using illegitimate means, including ‘patriotic hold-ups’ of financial institutions and spoliation. Would Aquinas have approved of such an approach?

The analysis of historical funding channels can better illustrate the logistical difficulties that were experienced in combat, leading to a better understanding on the impact of morale among fighting units and helping to provide explanations as to the critical failures that are still experienced, today, in the heat of battle. This approach underlines the embedded nature of the financing within the martial sphere.

All topics relating conflict and its financing, in the twentieth century, will be considered. Suggestions include:

  • Development of wartime financial instruments.
  • War finance in the computer age.
  • Use of economic warfare outside of official conflict.
  • The wartime experience of private banks, and their staff.
  • Money printing and central banking activity.