November 8, 2008
Among the captains of industry, spin doctors and financial advisers accompanying British prime minister Gordon Brown on his fund-raising visit to the Gulf this week, one name was surprisingly absent. This may have had something to do with the fact that the tour kicked off in Saudi Arabia. But by the time the group reached Qatar, Baron David de Rothschild was there, too, and he was also in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Although his office denies that he was part of the official party, it is probably no coincidence that he happened to be in the same part of the world at the right time. That is how the Rothschilds have worked for centuries: quietly, without fuss, behind the scenes.
“We have had 250 years or so of family involvement in the finance business,” says Baron Rothschild. “We provide advice on both sides of the balance sheet, and we do it globally.”
The Rothschilds have been helping the British government – and many others – out of a financial hole ever since they financed Wellington’s army and thus victory against the French at Waterloo in 1815. According to a long-standing legend, the Rothschild family owed the first millions of their fortune to Nathan Rothschild’s successful speculation about the effect of the outcome of the battle on the price of British bonds. By the 19th century, they ran a financial institution with the power and influence of a combined Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and perhaps even Goldman Sachs and the Bank of China today.
In the 1820s, the Rothschilds supplied enough money to the Bank of England to avert a liquidity crisis. There is not one institution that can save the system in the same way today; not even the US Federal Reserve. However, even though the Rothschilds may have lost some of that power – just as other financial institutions on that list have been emasculated in the last few months – the Rothschild dynasty has lost none of its lustre or influence. So it was no surprise to meet Baron Rothschild at the Dubai International Financial Centre. Rothschild’s opened in Dubai in 2006 with ambitious plans to build an advisory business to complement its European operations. What took so long?