Profits and Politics: Beaverbrook and the Gilded Age of Canadian Finance

Profits and Politics: Beaverbrook and the Gilded Age of Canadian Finance

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Gregory Marchildon
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 1996
World Rights
348 Pages
ISBN 9780802007407
Published Dec 1996
Online discount: 25%
 $35.95    $26.96

It has been said of Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook) that 'no other Canadian carved his name so large upon his times.' A manipulative, self-serving charmer with immense business acumen, Aitken knew all the important Canadian financiers of his day, and repeatedly demonstrated his remarkable skill for making money in the field of corporate finance. In this book Gregory Marchildon looks at the entrepreneurial history of Max Aitken and his core enterprise, the Royal Securities Corporation. A penetrating study of investment banking and financial capitalism during the Laurier boom years, the book also deals more generally with the relationship between Canadian politics and imperial ideology before the Great War.

Marchildon walks us through the machinations, uncertainties, and bravado that went into Aitken's world of promoting, financing, and stockbroking. He describes in riveting detail the playing out of the great mergers in Canadian politics and business life - most notably that of Stelco and Canada Cement. We see the inner workings of finance capitalism, coloured by many remarkable personalities of the day, and we learn how Aitken's innovative tactics made him a very rich man while still in his twenties. This is a deeply textured account of the dynamics of the securities market in the formative years at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The first study of the whole of Aitken's Canadian career, Profits and Politics adds significantly to our understanding of finance capitalism during the Laurier era, and especially during Canada's first great merger era, from 1909 to 1913.

Gregory P. Marchildon is Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Health Policy and System Design at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto.

'Here is the $10,000 bribe, the misleading statements, the double-crosses, the million-dollar-flip and the continuing hypocrisy. Yet here also is the genius that transformed initial imitation into ultimate innovation and attracted some of the best financial talent of that generation as colleagues and employees.'

Peter Calamai, The Beaver

'The main lines of the story are familiar. Many specific points are not, however, nor has anyone previously analysed the full range of Aitken's business activities in this extraordinary decade [1900-10]. Even those who know the story best will therefore learn much from this authoritative study.'

Douglas McCalla, Business History

'It is a good story, and, while the outline was already clear, Marchildon tells it with a mass of detail and appropriate verve. Current investment bankers, the honest ones, will turn green with envy, and the dishonest ones may pick up a few tips.'

Michael Davie, Times Literary Supplement

'This is an extremely useful and uncommonly interesting book.'

Brian Tennyson, University College of Cape Breton, H-Canada

'This well-written book should inform and entertain even the most econophobic reader.'