International financiers or international bankers could have a number of meanings depending on context.
Conspiracies that the international bankers are allegedly involved with include causing financial bubbles and crashes and plans for creating a North American Union and a New World Order, controlled of course by the international bankers themselves rather than representative governments. It is purported that in June 1991, in an address to a meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Baden, Germany, David Rockefeller, patriarch of the Rockefeller banking dynasty, declared, "We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries." Whether or not the founder of that secretive organization actually spoke those words at that closed meeting, it expresses the sentiment which adherents to the international banking cabal theory believe that the power elite profess. And that quote is in the same spirit as another made by David Rockefeller in his 2002 autobiography: "For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents... to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it." Statements like this give conspiracy theorists great confidence in the accuracy of their beliefs.
Some critics have contended that the terms "international bankers" or "banking cabal" are used by anti-Semites to refer to Jews, particularly in regard to the juxtaposition of contemporary bankers -- many notable ones of whom are Jewish -- to the New Testament depiction of corruption at the Temple. However, the theory is far more refined and specific to actual institutions and individuals and principles rather than just a blanket sentiment of bigotry. Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the founder of the Rothschild family banking empire in the late 1700s, purportedly declared, "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws." It is this sentiment as exercised by modern banking dynasties and institutions which draws the contempt of libertarians who consider all institutions -- including banks and governments -- subservient to the nation's constitution in order to protect the people from tyranny. They believe that national autodetermination and the protections of constitutional government are far superior to the whims of elite global banking cabals. Meanwhile, Austrian school economists believe that fiat money and fractional reserve banking are responsible for the some of the worst evils of recent history including world wars, depressions, massive inefficiencies and malinvestments, and hyperinflation. They are therefore fundamentally at odds with the methods that the international bankers employ in their management of the world economy.
Historical figures who subscribed to the international banker conspiracy theory -- and fought or spoke out against the international banker conspiracy in their time -- included Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Charles August Lindbergh, Henry Cabot Lodge, Louis T. McFadden, Oscar Callaway, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson (after being their patsy), Barry Goldwater, John F. Kennedy, Ferdinand Lundberg, Robert A. Heinlein, Harry Browne, Aaron Russo, among others. Contemporary adherents include notably the John Birch Society, Alex Jones, G. Edward Griffin, Lou Dobbs, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul. The international banker conspiracy theory overlaps to some extent with the military industrial complex conspiracy theory, the Corporatocracy conspiracy theory, and the Tax Honesty Movement, each being different manifestations or descriptions of the idea that the edifices of representative government and free-market commerce in the various western nations, particularly the United States, are really a false front for an oligarchy of the power elite working behind the scenes to oppress and control the populace.
In the June 04, 1923, edition of Time Magazine, Otto Kahn, one of the conspirators behind the Federal Reserve, is quoted defending "international bankers" against their widespread detractors at the time.
Ben Franklin is widely quoted, sometimes erroneously attributed to his autobiography, as having said, "The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George the III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the Revolutionary War."