By the time of the state of Israel's creation in the late 1940s, there were hundreds of Rothschild descendants, many still in banking or asset management, many in philanthropy, and many in unrelated businesses. Some Rothschilds supported Israel; some were passionately opposed. The idea of a single unified Rothschild establishment was long gone. No doubt many financial institutions were involved in Israel's early days, some were Rothschild banks, many more were not. It is this twisting and spinning of ordinary events into dark powerful deeds that characterizes much of the Rothschild conspiracy claims.
Case in point: At the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, Rothschild couriers were able to deliver news of the British victory to Nathan a full day ahead of government messengers. Nathan bought bonds at a low price that was fluctuating with uncertainty, and did very well the next day when official news came and prices rose. The conspiracy theory version states that Nathan first dumped bonds on the market to fool other investors into thinking he had news that the battle was lost, and through this ruse, multiplied the family fortune. In fact there is no historical record of this prior to a 1940 German movie called Die Rothschilds Aktien auf Waterloo, described as "the Third Reich's first anti-Semitic manifesto on film." The truth is that the Rothschild bank was already heavily invested betting on a protracted war, and this short-term gain on bonds merely offset a long-term loss.
One of their most famous transactions came in 1825, when England's unregulated banks all went into crisis due to poor management of interest rates. Nathan Rothschild had earlier bought huge amounts of gold from the struggling Bank of England at a fire sale price and sold it to the French national bank. When the Bank of England suffered a liquidity crisis as depositors clamored for their funds, the bank was able to borrow that same money back from Nathan, and thus averted disaster. Virtually every conspiracy website claims that this is how the Rothschilds "took over the Bank of England". No. They gave them a loan, which was paid back. In later years one Rothschild descendant sat on the Bank of England's board for a time, but by no logic can it be defended that their 1825 transaction constituted "taking them over".
In fact, that famous quote from Nathan Rothschild about "controlling the British money supply" turns out to be a fabrication. I found no original source for the quote at all, though it's repeated in dozens of conspiracy books and on tens of thousands of conspiracy websites. I did a thorough search of all available newspaper archives from Nathan's lifetime, and had some friends check various university library systems. No such quote appears in the academic literature. After such a thorough search, I feel confident stating that he never made such a statement.
But the quote doesn't appear to be completely made up by the conspiracy theorists. It's most likely a revised and restyled version of this quote attributed to Nathan's father, the original Mayer Rothschild:
Give me control of a Nation's money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.But like the longer, more specific quote from Nathan, even this one turns out to be apocryphal. Author G. Edward Griffin did manage to track it down, though. He found that this saying was:
Quoted by Senator Robert L. Owen, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency and one of the sponsors of the Federal Reserve Act, National Economy and the Banking System, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1939), p. 99. This quotation could not be verified in a primary reference work. However, when one considers the life and accomplishments of the elder Rothschild, there can be little doubt that this sentiment was, in fact, his outlook and guiding principle.And this is certainly true. In Rothschild's day, before banking regulation and antitrust laws existed, it was indeed possible for small groups to gain controlling interests in enough financial institutions that it could be argued that they "controlled" a nation's money supply. Evidently the Senator made up the quote to support whatever speech he was making, and attributed it to a famous name to give it some clout.
Some claim the Rothschilds own half the world's wealth. If they do, it's only in the same way that you do. Anyone with an interest-bearing bank account owns shares in whatever funds their bank invests in. Those funds own shares in other funds and public companies, and so on. At some level, virtually every financial entity owns, and is owned by, any other entity, in every country. It's exactly like the degrees of Kevin Bacon. The notion that anyone could "control the world's finances" is ludicrous.
There is no longer any such thing as a monolithic House of Rothschild with connections to any significant number of all the scores of today's independent Rothschild business ventures. The closest thing is Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG, a Swiss company that manages interests in many Rothschild-founded institutions. There are no longer any Rothschild family members on its board (the last having retired in 2011), though about eight Rothschilds are believed to own stakes in it (like many holding companies, it's privately held, so its records are not public). Its other owners include Rabobank and Hong Kong based Jardine Matheson Holdings. The Rothschild funds it manages now focus on mergers and acquisitions. Make no mistake, it's a large and successful company; but with billions in assets, it's a relatively small fish in the sea of world financial institutions with trillions in assets, including Deutsche Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, HSBC Holdings, BNP Paribas, Japan Post Bank, Crédit Agricole Group, Barclays PLC, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and many others. Anyone trying to point the finger at the scattered Rothschilds as "controlling" world banks has an awfully tall order. That little factoid is about 100 years out of date.
By my analysis, the Rothschilds are best thought of not as an evil shadow conspiracy, but as a great success story of rags to riches, Jewish slum to financing the defeat of Napoleon. The price of gold is fixed twice a day by five members of the London Bullion Association: Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, Scotiabank, HSBC, and Societe Generale, and they conduct their twice-daily meeting over the telephone. Today this is mere financial necessity, but until 2004, it was also a century-old tradition as great as the ringing of the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The five distinguished representatives included a Rothschild, and they met in person in a paneled room at the London office of N M Rothschild & Sons. That ritual is now a thing of the past, as is the power of the world's greatest financial dynasty.