An Historical Precedent

October 2, 2018

From time to time, I run into an historical nugget that offers a link between competitive intelligence today and the distant past.

Most of the time, we talk about how CI was heavily influenced by what happens in government, and how modern CI borrows heavily from the government model. However, in the past, that was reversed.

Take, for example, this extract from a wonderful biographical history of the international banking family the Warburgs:

“Max Warburg attained eminence in the heyday of imperial intrigue [the “eve of World War I”], when statesmen picked countries ripe for exploitation on unfurled maps and bankers served their will. Private bankers were ideal channels for such covert action because they didn’t answer to shareholders or publish balance sheets. They also prized intelligence and operated with sphinxlike discretion that mimicked diplomatic activity.”[1]

[1]Ron Chernow, The Warburgs, Random House, NY, 1993, p. 141.