The Rothschild Consortium and the State Debt
of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
The state debts of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy after 1867 consisted of three parts: loans acquired before 1867; loans acquired by the Cisleithanian half of the empire after the Compromise of 1867; and, finally, new state debt generated by the Kingdom of Hungary also after 1867. Between 1873 and 1910, with some exceptions, it was the Rothschild–Creditanstalt–Disconto-Gesellschaft consortium that acted in the role of the state banker in both halves of the dualistic state. The decision in favor of the Rothschilds was based not only on their extensive international network, rapid communications, immense prestige, an enormous amount of capital and a high degree of competitiveness but on the fact that they had long been heavily involved in Austrian financial affairs and in their quasi-monopoly position were able to assess relatively favorable costs. While the international market treated Hungary’s state bonds as the public debt of a sovereign state, it still considered Austria and Hungary to be economically interdependent parts of the same, albeit politically dual, monarchy even as the threat of the dualist state’s dissolution emerged more and more frequently from the turn of the century onwards. After initial hardships, yields on Hungary’s state debt with some lag were able to keep up with the profitability on the again gradually increasing Austrian state debt.
Keywords: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, State debt, Rothschild–Creditanstalt–Disconto-Gesellschaft consortium, reputation, “empire effect”, “Rothschild effect”