This paper explores the intimate connection between imperialism and a liberal global economy in the late nineteenth century and the inter-war period by distinguishing and disentangling the imperial and political dimensions of the pre-World War I gold standard, and interwar efforts to restore it. By doing so it attempts partialty to redress the relative neglect of power in historical accounts of the international financial arrangements, and re-balance conventional liberal assumptions about the role of markets and incentives in the consolidation and spread of global institutions such as the gold standard. By re-embedding the intertwined financial histories of the imperial and Atlantic worlds into a global context, perspectives from the empire help develop more historically-situated analyses of global economic institutions and arrangements, and help clarify the many intersecting processes involving both power, in all its forms, and markets, that have historically shaped financial relations and institutions.