Bubbles and Bonanzas

Bubbles and Bonanzas : British Investors and Investments in Mexico, 1824-1860

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It is a little known fact of British history that between 1824 and 1825, British people invested approximately 10 million pounds in Mexico. This enormous sum of money did not come from the British government, the Bank of England, or, for the most part, rich merchants, landowners, or British aristocrats. It came from the incomes, pensions, and savings of thousands of ordinary British people, including rural vicars, country doctors, merchants, local bankers and solicitors, retired army and navy officers, shopkeepers and myriad other individuals who risked their money in the future of Mexico. Why did they do it? Why did the four Cazenove brothers of the banking family, or the three Twining brothers of tea fame, or Dr. Peter Roget, author of the famous Theasaurus that most of us still use today, choose Mexico for their investments? What did they know about the country, its history, economoy, politics and prospects? Why was it that the British, even after losing millions of pounds in their Mexican investments, continued to believe that Mexico was a land of unlimited opportunity?
Bubbles and Bonanzas is the first detailed study of British investments and investors in Mexico in the first four decades after independence. Costeloe gives economic history a human face that offers fascinating detail and new information about the origins and scope of British interest in independent Mexico.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 262 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739151193
  • 9780739151198

Table of contents

1 Acknowledgements 2 Introduction 3 1. Mexico in Britain, 1824-1825: a positive image 4 2. The Bubble 5 3. The Mexican Companies 6 4. Mining Companies: phase 1 (1824-1829) 7 5. Fate of the Mining Companies: phase 1 8 6. Mining Companies: phase 2 (1830-1860) 9 7. Miscellaneous British enterprises 10 8. The shareholders 11 9. Miscellany 12 Bibliography
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Review quote

Costeloe (professor emeritus and senior research fellow, Univ. of Bristol, UK) has a long resume with respect to Latin American studies. His earlier books consist of research on church wealth and state relations in19th-century Mexico. This new publication focuses on joint stock companies as a risky investment in Mexico in the years immediately following independence (1821). Costeloe notes that his last major work (2003) focused on bonds and bondholders, making this new work a means of completing the British investment picture. The bottom line is that to British investors, Mexico's independence from Spain represented a golden opportunity, but the political quagmire that followed frustrated the possibilities, and by 1860 most investors had abandoned the country. The book consists of eight short but well-written chapters with meticulously researched examples to support Costeloe's subject. The book also includes a chapter titled 'Miscellany,' which enlightens readers on the 'paradoxes' of the British experience in Mexico, such as the utter failure of stock companies against the fabulous riches amassed by the local British managers. Scholars of Mexico's economic history will find this book of interest. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate through research collections. CHOICE Bubbles and Bonanzas offers a vivid account of how Mexico was perceived by London society in the early nineteenth century and how images of the country were disseminated across Britain by exhibitions, the press, and subscription libraries... In Bubbles and Bonanzas, Professor Costeloe has exposed rich seams of evidence that will be productively and profitably mined by future historians. Bankers and regulators would also profit from reading this narrative, which provides stories of unrealistic expectations, puff and manipulation, venality and the correction of corporate cash crises and credit crunches, and popular anger at a time when no government bailouts were on offer. Hispanic American Historical Review In this book, the late Michael Costeloe has given us an excellent account of British investment, and investors, in early independent Mexico. Based on voluminous research in various depositories in Britain, the United States, Mexico and even Australia, and on sources such as company reports, personal letters, newspapers and the usual government records, as well as the available secondary literature, he has put together a remarkable complete picture of opaque endeavors in a turbulent period of mexico's history. Journal of Latin American Studies [T]his book demonstrates the impressive depth of the author's empirical research. ... The book is by no means a dull business history. ... The book provides very detailed portraits, reconstructed from extensive research in British and Mexican archives. Bulletin of Latin American Research This is a compelling and welcome study of British investment in Mexico in the decades following the country's independence from Spain. Costeloe provides a detailed analysis of the different types of companies that were formed, what happened to them, and engaging profiles and biographies of a number of representative shareholders. The result is a thorough and comprehensive study that offers a particularly vivid interpretation of the British experience in Independent Mexico. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a major contribution to the historiography. -- William Fowler, University of St. Andrews What emboldened Britons, in the 1820s, to part with their hard earned savings and invest them in the legendary silver mines of Mexico, without knowledge of mining or Mexico? Here is a tale of confidence in the unknown, belief in capitalism and the hope of riches, widespread misconceptions and just plain ignorance. All the pitfalls of British pride, hucksterism, false modernizations, political unrest and credit crises make Bubbles and Bonanzas an illuminating moral, as well as an, until now, little known part of English and Mexican history which had a profound economic influence on the lives of small investors and optimistic entrepreneurs. Bankruptcy, threatened invasion, and an occasional fortune were only some of the outcomes. -- Anne Folger Staples-Dean, El Colegio de Mexico
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About Michael P. Costeloe

Michael P. Costeloe is professor emeritus and senior research fellow at Univeristy of Bristol.
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