Pesos and Politics
Business, Elites, Foreigners, and Government in Mexico, 1854-1940
Mark Wasserman


Contents and Abstracts
1 Elites, Foreigners, and Government in Mexico, 1877–1940
chapter abstract

2 Mexican Entrepreneurs
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Two case studies about the patriarchs of two Mexican entrepreneurial families: Enrique C. Creel, who was Mexico's leading banker during the Díaz era (1880-1910), a governor and national cabinet member; and Evaristo Madero, a large landowner and industrialist. Both families diversified extensively, although they based their wealth in good part on landholding and partnered with other elite groups in Mexico City and Monterrey. Creel and Madero were similar in that they opposed Díaz for many years, but never lost out entirely because they were too strong economically. They were different in that the Creels cooperated with, brokered for, and partnered with foreign businesspeople, while the Maderos often found themselves in opposition to foreign companies.

3 Mexico Versus the Seven Kings: The Railroad Consolidation, 1902-1910
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This is the history of the consolidation of the Mexican railroad system under government ownership from 1902 to 1911. The Díaz regime undertook these mergers in order to prevent the railroad tycoons in the United States from taking control of the financially unstable Mexican railway companies. The arrangements were engineered by finance minister José Y. Limantour, who ingeniously stymied the US capitalists while at the same time not alienating them. The railroad consolidation was an excellent example of how the elite-foreign enterprise system worked, as the regime balanced the interests of all of the competing groups.

4 Foreign Landowners
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Discusses the various types of foreign landholders in Mexico during the period under study; it uses case studies of large owners, more modest owners, lumber companies, colonizing schemes, and lumber companies. It argues that foreign investors, while owning large tracts, rarely yielded profits. They required considerable capital, a steady market, and secure labor force to succeed.

5 The Corralitos Company
chapter abstract

The Corralitos Company operated an 800,000-acre ranch and a substantial mining company. It makes an excellent case study of foreign investment in each of these businesses because we have a fairly complete set of records for the company. During a period of forty years, the company was profitable only for a short period. Its investors sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into new equipment and livestock.

6 Foreign Mining Entrepreneurs
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This chapter contains a large number of case studies of mining companies, the vast majority of which were unprofitable. It reiterates that these companies required great capital, expertise, management skills, the ability to negotiate with local elites and governments, a steady market, good transportation, and a secure labor force. Very few companies combined all of these.

7 The American Smelting and Refining Company in Mexico, 1890–1940
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This is the history of the American Smelting and Refining Company in Mexico, which was the most important success of all foreign enterprises in Mexico during this era.

8 Conclusion
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