This post contributes to our occasional series of guest posts by external researchers who have used the Bank of England’s archives for their work on subjects outside traditional central banking topics.
In August 1914, Britain was the world’s wealthiest country. Yet there was no guarantee that government would be able to harness that wealth for World War I. Effectively, Britain was forced into a ‘Battle for Capital’ simultaneous with its military efforts — with the efficacy of the latter dependent on the success of the former. Over 80% of the £7,280 million Britain borrowed from 1914 to 1919, was raised at home. New research shows that Britain’s desperate efforts to marshal its citizens’ capital for the purpose of war, while also struggling to direct wartime production, profits and labour, led to a sharp shift in the sources of its borrowings during the war and in the years after.Continue reading “How Britain paid for war: bond holders in the Great War 1914-32”