Banking on Détente: Barclays, Paribas, and Société Générale in Poland, 1950s-1980s, in Business History
in Financial History Review n°1, vol. 27, pp.73-94
Abstract – In spite of considerable attention granted to sovereign debt failures, we still have limited knowledge of the incentives which induced creditors to lend at unsustainable levels. This article looks at the French government’s policy towards Poland from 1958, when economic cooperation between the two countries started, until Poland’s announcement in 1981 that it could not service its debt. Export credit guarantees supported France’s financial involvement, and this implied the government’s strong influence on the decision to lend. This article brings out the tension between economic and political priorities in French policymaking during the cold war. Archival evidence reveals that as early as 1975 the French finance ministry warned that French risks were excessive; that Poland’s growing economic difficulties would render the country unable to repay its debts; and recommended limiting France’s financial commitments. The French government, however, decided not only to carry on but also to increase lending, in order to support its political objective of using economic and financial means to relax East–West tensions. This article illustrates how creditors play a part in sovereign debt crises by voluntarily turning a blind eye to a country’s growing inability to repay its debts, and thus reinforce a vicious circle of indebtedness.
in Journal of Economic Policy Reform n°3, vol. 23, pp.273-289
(with Aurélie Andry, Haakon Ikonomou, Quentin Jouan)
in European Review of History n°4, vol. 26, 2019
Abstract – This introduction outlines the possibilities and perspectives of an intertwining between European integration history and the history of capitalism. Although debates on capitalism have been making a comeback since the 2008 crisis, to date the concept of capitalism remains almost completely avoided by historians of European integration. This introduction thus conceptualizes ‘capitalism’ as a useful analytical tool that should be used by historians of European integration and proposes three major approaches for them to do so: first, by bringing the question of social conflict, integral to the concept of capitalism, into European integration history; second, by better conceptualizing the link between European governance, Europeanization and the globalization of capitalism; and thirdly by investigating the economic, political and ideological models or doctrines that underlie European cooperation, integration, policies and institutions. Finally, the introduction addresses the question of the analytical benefits of an encounter between capitalism and European integration history, focusing on the case of the 1970s. This allows us to qualify the idea of a clear-cut rupture, and better highlight how the shift of these years resulted from a complex bargaining that took place in part at the European level.
in Politique Étrangère n°4, 2018
Abstract – Depuis le vote du peuple britannique pour quitter l’Union européenne le 23 juin 2016, les analyses sur l’impact économique et financier du Brexit sur le Royaume-Uni et sur l’Europe sont légion. Apocalyptiques ou fantasmées, objectives ou biaisées, ces analyses occultent souvent l’impact le plus important : l’inquantifiable perte des bénéfices d’une relation de coopération étroite entre Londres et le continent tissée depuis plus d’un demi-siècle.
in Revue Monde(s): Histoire, Espaces, Relations n°13, 2018
Abstract – This article focuses on the development of Bahrain as an international financial centre in the 1970s and 1980s. The article first analyses the reasons that contribute to explain the sudden and spectacular rise of Bahrain as an international financial centre. It then scrutinises the extent to which Bahrain’s rise was truly international in scope, especially compared to Beirut and Singapore. Finally, the article reflects on the reasons why no banking crisis occurred on the island, in spite of a rapid financial development that could have potentially led to the creation of a banking bubble.
in Contemporary European History 25:3, 2016
Abstract – This article seeks to explain the emergence of the European Council at the heart of Europe’s governance between 1975 and 1986. It highlights four factors that quickly made the newly-created institution both indispensable and stable, despite concerns over the excessive reliance on the intergovernmental method in European cooperation processes. These factors were the rise of globalisation in its multi-faceted policy dimensions, a satisfactory new-found institutional balance, the public impact of societal actors’ connections with regular and frequent heads of government meetings and the democratic legitimacy issue in European integration. The article further argues that this period witnessed the de facto emergence of the three-pillar Maastricht structure and shows how the study of the early days of the European Economic Community can shed light on the current development of the European Union and the European Council after the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.
in JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 54:4, 2016
Abstract – This article shows that planning for the organization of EU banking regulation and supervision did not just appear on the agenda in recent years with discussions over the creation of the eurozone banking union. It unveils a hitherto neglected initiative of the European Commission in the 1960s and early 1970s. Drawing on extensive archival work, this article explains that this initiative, however, rested on a number of different assumptions, and emerged in a much different context. It first explains that the Commission’s initial project was not crisis-driven; that it articulated the link between monetary integration and banking regulation; and finally that it did not set out to move the supervisory framework to the supranational level, unlike present-day developments.
in Business History 57:2, 2015
Abstract – With its international supervisory and regulatory implications, the failure of Bankhaus Herstatt is one of the landmarks of post-war financial history. This article offers the first comprehensive historical account of the Herstatt crisis, and contributes to the wider discussions on international supervisory and regulatory reform since the mid-1970s, including regulatory capture, markets’ self-regulation and resolution of failed banks. In doing so, it first argues that contrary to a widely held view, the German authorities received early and repeated warnings about Herstatt’s dealings but this involved only limited and ineffective regulatory/supervisory responses, then it turns to the actual collapse of the bank in June 1974, and finally explores the wider regulatory issues raised by the Herstatt case.
in Politique Européenne, 50, 2015
Abstract – This article examines the place of history as a discipline in the wider field of European studies in 2015. It first observes that history is largely marginalised both in public and academic debates about Europe’s current predicament, and explores the possible reasons for this state of affairs. It then brings to the fore the emergence of a rich and vivid historiography in the last decade, and argues that the latter leaves no excuse to colleagues from other disciplines for not engaging with historians’ work of immediate intellectual relevance to their field of inquiry.
in West European Politics 37:6, 2014
Abstract – The article argues that many of the issues that are causing trouble in the eurozone today had long been debated, but not solved, prior to the beginning of the so-called euro crisis. Three thematic examples are used to show this: the decade-long discussion surrounding economic convergence and the question of a transfer union; the dispute over the alleged use of financial mechanisms as a substitute for addressing structural economic weaknesses; and the development of European banking regulation and supervision before the creation of the single currency. Finally, the article argues that even though some of the features of today’s crises – in particular the debt and deficit issues – were outlined at the time of the euro’s introduction, some important recent developments such as the various new operations undertaken by the European Central Bank were not. This should command modesty and cautiousness in the analysis of the evolution of the euro crisis.
in Diplomacy & Statecraft 23:4, 2012
Abstract – Regular meetings of heads of state and government seem, in 2012, a common feature of international affairs. About forty years ago, however, such meetings did not really exist: ad hoc summits were the rule. Comparing the emergence of the European Council in 1974 and the G7 in 1975, this article explains why and how summitry has become routine in international politics. To do so, it examines the common roots of both summits, points out the first differences between the two institutions, and, finally, underlines the common challenges they faced and the logic they shared. Taken together, these three parts underline how, despite their obvious differences, the European Council and the G7 created a new dimension of international politics.
in Les Cahiers IRICE, 2012
Abstract – The emergence of the European Council in the mid-1970s is an interesting case-study of the evolution of both the European Economic Community (EEC) polity and the international system. Very quickly, the European Council acquired a central role in the governance of the EEC polity; and very quickly too, the European Council had an impact in international relations. This article explores three central issues of the European Council’s development, from its inception in 1974 until its constitutionalisation in 1986 – that is, when it first formally appeared in a European treaty, the Single European Act (SEA). In order illustrate these three features, it elaborates upon three case-studies: the European Monetary System (EMS), European Political Cooperation (EPC) and the socialisation of heads of government.
in Journal of European Integration History, 2011
Abstract – For anyone interested in international political economy (IPE), the fact that European integration is embedded in global influences is, arguably, a given. Economic and monetary phenomena do not really know borders – or at least not in the same way as other fields of foreign policy and cooperation do. As a consequence, taking into account the global context in the study of European developments largely goes without saying. Talking of European monetary cooperation without mentioning the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, explaining various European monetary policies without mentioning the influence of Milton Friedman and the Chicago school, or the US administration’s “neglect” of the dollar in the late 1970s, would be fairly pointless. To put it the other way around: had the US been more amenable to aligning its economic and monetary policy with the German one, the European Monetary System (EMS) would probably not have been created. Keeping this in mind, this article will briefly set out the state of the field, outline some of the problems/methodological challenges to historical research on the 1970s and finally sketch some potential research directions.
in Histoire, Économie & Société, 2011
Abstract – This article focuses on the role of central bankers in European monetary cooperation, from the failure of the Werner Plan to the creation of the European Monetary System (EMS). The role of central bankers in the run-up to the EMS is usually seen as limited : the main feature of the EMS negotiations was that the French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and the German chancellor Helmut Schmidt tried to bypass central bankers in order to reach an agreement to which they were otherwise opposed. Based on extensive research in British, French, German and EEC archives, this article stresses instead the continuum of cooperation, the progressive formation of a consensus around the Bundesbank interpretation of monetary policy, and the importance of seeing central bankers as members of a wider transnational monetary elite.
in Cold War History 10:3, 2010
Abstract – This article deals with a significant institutional step in the history of European integration, namely the legally non-binding decision to hold EEC heads of state and government meetings on a regular basis. It will concentrate on the negotiations leading to this decision from mid-1974 until the formal creation of the European Council at the Paris Summit on 9 and 10 December 1974. Drawing upon extensive research in multiple national and EEC archives, this article will embed the analysis of the French initiative in a multilateral context of policy-making and bargaining. It will first try to see to what extent the nine EEC member states shared a common diagnosis about heads of state and government meetings. Then it will delve into the negotiations about the institutionalisation of EEC summits, and finally it will try to explain why, in spite of a number of disagreements, the European Council was eventually created at the Paris Summit. This article will show that the creation of the European Council was more complex than is usually perceived, and highlight wider perennial themes of European integration history.