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Soviet Capitalist Bankers on the Financial Front of the Cold War: From Agents of Soviet Financial Statecraft to Russian Global Managers

Sun, November 24, 10:00 to 11:45am, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Floor: 4, Pacific F

Abstract

This paper looks at post-Soviet legacies of Soviet international banking of the Cold war era through the prism of the experience and life stories of Soviet bankers who worked on capitalist financial markets in the 1970s and 80s, as managers of Soviet-owned commercial banks in the West in Paris, London, Singapore, Zurich and Beirut among other financial hubs, practicing capitalist finance for decades before perestroika reforms. In the 1990s, they became managers -not owners- of Russian commercial banks, mostly those linked tightly to extractive industries and/or the state, before reintegrating the government-controlled Russian banking networks of the 2000s. Drawing on the archives of Soviet banks and interviews, the paper analyzes the particular professional and social identity of these bankers through two or three profiles. Despite the adoption of many social characteristics of transnational banking elites, they maintained a strong but ambivalent allegiance to Moscow, centered on their role as defenders of Soviet financial interests on global markets. This allegiance serves as a reading grid to explain their trajectories and offers a few keys to understanding some aspects of contemporary Russian international finance.

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