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Bankers and Bolsheviks$
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Hassan Malik

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691170169

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691170169.001.0001

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Fault Lines

Fault Lines

The Witte System and Missed Opportunities

(p.19) 1 Fault Lines
Bankers and Bolsheviks

Hassan Malik

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces Russia's financial reforms in the late nineteenth century. It puts the reforms associated with Sergei Witte's tenure as finance minister from 1892 to 1903 in a broader context, and also highlights key strategic errors made during his tenure. As the chapter shows, Witte, more than any other figure in Russia or the West, is associated with the boom in Russian investment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During his tenure as finance minister, Russia adopted the gold standard in 1897 and repeatedly turned to the foreign capital markets for loans to finance an ambitious program of state-led industrialization. His name was similarly associated with the boom in Russian railroad construction, the Trans-Siberian Railway in particular—an association that began in his earliest days while working in the railroad industry, first in the private sector (initially as a lowly conductor to learn the business) and then in government.

Keywords:   Sergei Witte, strategic errors, Russian investment, foreign capital markets, loans, state-led industrialization, Russian railroad construction, Trans-Siberian Railway

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