Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—interwar economic implosion on financial colonialism, in this corrective history Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the negative role of external players and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on Austrian political and financial decline.
The Battle over the Charter of the Second Bank of the United States and Its Lasting Impact on the American Economy
Late one night in July 1832,Martin Van Buren rushed to the White House where he found an ailing President Andrew Jackson weakened but resolute. Thundering against his political antagonists, Jackson bellowed: “The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I shall kill it!”With those famous words, Jackson formally declared “war” against the Second Bank of the United States and its president Nicholas Biddle. The Bank of the United States, which held the majority of Federal monies, had been established as a means of centralizing and stabilizing American currency and the economy, particularly during the country’s vulnerable early years. Jackson and his allies viewed the bank as both elitist and a threat to states’ rights. Throughout his first term, Jackson had attacked the bank viciously but failed to take action against the institution. Congress’ decision to recharter the bank forced Jackson to either make good on his rhetoric and veto the recharter or sign the recharter bill and be condemned as a hypocrite.
In The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle, and the Fight for American Finance, historian Paul Kahan explores one of the most important and dramatic events in American political and economic history, from the idea of centralized banking and the First Bank of the United States to Jackson’s triumph, the era of “free banking,” and the creation of the Federal Reserve System. Relying on a range of primary and secondary source material, the book also shows how the Bank War was a manifestation of the debates that were sparked at the Constitutional Convention—the role of the executive branch and the role of the federal government in American society—debates that endure to this day as philosophical differences that often divide the United States.
The World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) carry out their mission to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth based on the advice of professional economists. But as Sarah Babb argues in Behind the Development Banks, these organizations have also been indelibly shaped by Washington politics—particularly by the legislative branch and its power of the purse.
Tracing American influence on MDBs over three decades, this volume assesses increased congressional activism and the perpetual “selling” of banks to Congress by the executive branch. Babb contends that congressional reluctance to fund the MDBs has enhanced the influence of the United States on them by making credible America’s threat to abandon the banks if its policy preferences are not followed. At a time when the United States’ role in world affairs is being closely scrutinized, Behind the Development Banks will be necessary reading for anyone interested in how American politics helps determine the fate of developing countries.
Taking financial risks is an essential part of what banks do, but there’s no clear sense of what constitutes responsible risk. Taking legal risks seems to have become part of what banks do as well. Since the financial crisis, Congress has passed copious amounts of legislation aimed at curbing banks’ risky behavior. Lawsuits against large banks have cost them billions. Yet bad behavior continues to plague the industry. Why isn’t there more change?
In Better Bankers, Better Banks, Claire A. Hill and Richard W. Painter look back at the history of banking and show how the current culture of bad behavior—dramatized by the corrupt, cocaine-snorting bankers of The Wolf of Wall Street—came to be. In the early 1980s, banks went from partnerships whose partners had personal liability to corporations whose managers had no such liability and could take risks with other people’s money. A major reason bankers remain resistant to change, Hill and Painter argue, is that while banks have been faced with large fines, penalties, and legal fees—which have exceeded one hundred billion dollars since the onset of the crisis—the banks (which really means the banks’shareholders) have paid them, not the bankers themselves. The problem also extends well beyond the pursuit of profit to the issue of how success is defined within the banking industry, where highly paid bankers clamor for status and clients may regard as inevitable bankers who prioritize their own self-interest. While many solutions have been proposed, Hill and Painter show that a successful transformation of banker behavior must begin with the bankers themselves. Bankers must be personally liable from their own assets for some portion of the bank’s losses from excessive risk-taking and illegal behavior. This would instill a culture that discourages such behavior and in turn influence the sorts of behavior society celebrates or condemns.
Despite many sensible proposals seeking to reign in excessive risk-taking, the continuing trajectory of scandals suggests that we’re far from ready to avert the next crisis. Better Bankers, Better Banks is a refreshing call for bankers to return to the idea that theirs is a noble profession.
Recent economic crises have made the centrality of debt, and the instability it creates, increasingly apparent. This realization has led to cries for change—yet there is little popular awareness of possible alternatives.
Beyond Debt describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia, Daromir Rudnyckyj illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam. Rudnyckyj shows how Islamic financial experts have undertaken ambitious experiments to create more stable economies and stronger social solidarities by facilitating risk- and profit-sharing, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, and more collaborative economic action. Building on scholarship that reveals the impact of financial devices on human activity, he illustrates how Islamic finance is deployed to fashion subjects who are at once more pious Muslims and more ambitious entrepreneurs. In so doing, Rudnyckyj shows how experts seek to create a new “geoeconomics”—a global Islamic alternative to the conventional financial network centered on New York, London, and Tokyo. A groundbreaking analysis of a timely subject, Beyond Debt tells the captivating story of efforts to re-center international finance in an emergent Islamic global city and, ultimately, to challenge the very foundations of conventional finance.
City of Debtors
Anne Fleming Harvard University Press, 2018 Library of Congress HG3711.U6F55 2018 | Dewey Decimal 332.7097471
Since the 1890s, people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder in the U.S. have paid the highest price for credit. Anne Fleming tells how each generation has tackled the problem of fringe finance and its regulation. Her detailed work contributes to the broader, ongoing debate about the meaning of justice within capitalistic societies.
In 1863 black communities owned less than 1 percent of total U.S. wealth. Today that number has barely budged. Mehrsa Baradaran pursues this wealth gap by focusing on black banks. She challenges the myth that black banking is the solution to the racial wealth gap and argues that black communities can never accumulate wealth in a segregated economy.
"Rosas's compelling theory and wide-ranging empirical evidence yield a persuasive but surprising conclusion in light of the financial meltdown of 2008–9. In the event of banking crises, not only do elected governments treat taxpayers better and force bankers and their creditors to pay more for their mistakes, but bankers in democracies are more prudent as a consequence . . . essential reading for all interested in the political economy of crisis and in the future of banking regulation."
---Philip Keefer, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank
"Rosas convincingly demonstrates how democratic accountability affects the incidence and resolution of banking crises. Combining formal models, case studies, and cutting-edge quantitative methods, Rosas's book represents a model for political economy research."
---William Bernhard, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois
"When the financial crises of the 1990s hit Asia, Russia, and Latin America, the U.S. scolded them about the moral hazard problems of bailing out the banks. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, with the U.S. struggling to manage an imploding financial sector. Rosas's study of bank bailouts could not be more timely, providing us with both a framework for thinking about the issue and some sobering history of how things go both right and badly wrong. Democratic accountability proves the crucial factor in making sure bailouts are fair, a point that is as relevant for U.S. policy as for an understanding of the emerging markets."
---Stephan Haggard, Krause Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego
Banking crises threaten the stability and growth of economies around the world. In response, politicians restore banks to solvency by redistributing losses from bank shareholders and depositors to taxpayers, and the burden the citizenry must bear varies from case to case. Whereas some governments stay close to the prescriptions espoused by Sir Walter Bagehot in the nineteenth century that limit the costs shouldered by taxpayers, others engage in generous bank bailouts at great cost to society. What factors determine a government's response?
In this comparative analysis of late-twentieth-century banking crises, Guillermo Rosas identifies political regime type as the determining factor. During a crisis, powerful financial players demand protection of their assets. Rosas maintains that in authoritarian regimes, government officials have little to shield them from such demands and little incentive for rebuffing them, while in democratic regimes, elected officials must weigh these demands against the interests of the voters---that is, the taxpayers. As a result, compared with authoritarian regimes, democratic regimes show a lower propensity toward dramatic, costly bailouts.
Guillermo Rosas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Fellow at the Center in Political Economy at Washington University in St. Louis.
John G. Cragg and Burton G. Malkiel collected detailed forecasts of professional investors concerning the growth of 175 companies and use this information to examine the impact of such forecasts on the market evaluations of the companies and to test and extend traditional models of how stock market values are determined.
Few scholars have been as influential in finance and economics as University of Chicago professor Eugene F. Fama. Over the course of a brilliant and productive career, Fama has published more than one hundred papers, filled with diverse, highly innovative contributions.
Published soon after the fiftieth anniversary of Fama’s appointment to the University of Chicago and his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Economics, The Fama Portfolio offers an authoritative compilation of Fama’s central papers. Many are classics, including his now-famous essay on efficient capital markets. Others, though less famous, are even better statements of the central ideas. Fama’s research considers key questions in finance, both as an academic field and an industry: How is information reflected in asset prices? What is the nature of risk that scares people away from larger returns? Does lots of buying and selling by active managers produce value for their clients? The Fama Portfolio provides for the first time a comprehensive collection of his work and includes introductions and commentary by the book’s editors, John H. Cochrane and Tobias Moskowitz, as well as by Fama’s colleagues, themselves top scholars and successful practitioners in finance. These essays emphasize how the ideas presented in Fama’s papers have influenced later thinking in financial economics, often for decades.
If you’ve got money in the bank, chances are you’ve never seriously worried about not being able to withdraw it. But there was a time in the United States, an era that ended just over a hundred years ago, when bank customers had to pay close attention to the solvency of the banking system, knowing they might have to rush to retrieve their savings before the bank collapsed. During the National Banking Era (1863–1913), before the establishment of the Federal Reserve, widespread banking panics were indeed rather common.
Yet these pre-Fed banking panics, as Gary B. Gorton and Ellis W. Tallman show, bear striking similarities to our recent financial crisis. Fighting Financial Crises thus turns to the past to better understand our uncertain present, investigating how panics during the National Banking Era played out and how they were eventually quelled and prevented. The authors then consider the Fed’s and the SEC’s reactions to the recent crisis, building an informative new perspective on how the modern economy works.
The increased mobility and volume of international capital flows is a striking trend in international finance. While countries worldwide have engaged in financial deregulation, nowhere is this pattern more pronounced than in East Asia, where it has affected in unanticipated ways the behavior of exchange rates, interest rates, and capital flows.
In these thirteen essays, American and Asian scholars analyze the effects of financial deregulation and integration on East Asian markets. Topics covered include the roles of the United States and Japan in trading with Asian countries, macroeconomic policy implications of export-led growth in Korea and Taiwan, the effects of foreign direct investment in China, and the impact of financial liberalization in Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
Demonstrating the complexity of financial deregulation and the challenges it poses for policy makers, this volume provides an excellent picture of the overall status of East Asian financial markets for scholars in international finance and Asian economic development.
The recent recession has brought fiscal policy back to the forefront, with economists and policy makers struggling to reach a consensus on highly political issues like tax rates and government spending. At the heart of the debate are fiscal multipliers, whose size and sensitivity determine the power of such policies to influence economic growth.
Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis focuses on the effects of fiscal stimuli and increased government spending, with contributions that consider the measurement of the multiplier effect and its size. In the face of uncertainty over the sustainability of recent economic policies, further contributions to this volume discuss the merits of alternate means of debt reduction through decreased government spending or increased taxes. A final section examines how the short-term political forces driving fiscal policy might be balanced with aspects of the long-term planning governing monetary policy.
A direct intervention in timely debates, Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis offers invaluable insights about various responses to the recent financial crisis.
Allan H. Meltzer's monumental history of the Federal Reserve System tells the story of one of America's most influential but least understood public institutions. This first volume covers the period from the Federal Reserve's founding in 1913 through the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951, which marked the beginning of a larger and greatly changed institution.
To understand why the Federal Reserve acted as it did at key points in its history, Meltzer draws on meeting minutes, correspondence, and other internal documents (many made public only during the 1970s) to trace the reasoning behind its policy decisions. He explains, for instance, why the Federal Reserve remained passive throughout most of the economic decline that led to the Great Depression, and how the Board's actions helped to produce the deep recession of 1937 and 1938. He also highlights the impact on the institution of individuals such as Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the 1920s, who played a key role in the adoption of a more active monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Meltzer also examines the influence the Federal Reserve has had on international affairs, from attempts to build a new international financial system in the 1920s to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 that established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the failure of the London Economic Conference of 1933.
Written by one of the world's leading economists, this magisterial biography of the Federal Reserve and the people who helped shape it will interest economists, central bankers, historians, political scientists, policymakers, and anyone seeking a deep understanding of the institution that controls America's purse strings.
"It was 'an unprecedented orgy of extravagance, a mania for speculation, overextended business in nearly all lines and in every section of the country.' An Alan Greenspan rumination about the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s? Try the 1920 annual report of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve. . . . To understand why the Fed acted as it did—at these critical moments and many others—would require years of study, poring over letters, the minutes of meetings and internal Fed documents. Such a task would naturally deter most scholars of economic history but not, thank goodness, Allan Meltzer."—Wall Street Journal
"A seminal work that anyone interested in the inner workings of the U. S. central bank should read. A work that scholars will mine for years to come."—John M. Berry, Washington Post
"An exceptionally clear story about why, as the ideas that actually informed policy evolved, things sometimes went well and sometimes went badly. . . . One can only hope that we do not have to wait too long for the second installment."—David Laidler, Journal of Economic Literature
"A thorough narrative history of a high order. Meltzer's analysis is persuasive and acute. His work will stand for a generation as the benchmark history of the world's most powerful economic institution. It is an impressive, even awe-inspiring achievement."—Sir Howard Davies, Times Higher Education Supplement
The United States has two separate banking systems today—one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities—all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later.
“Baradaran argues persuasively that the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal…How the Other Half Banks is well researched and clearly written…The bankers who fully understand the system are heavily invested in it. Books like this are written for the rest of us.”
—Nancy Folbre, New York Times Book Review
“How the Other Half Banks tells an important story, one in which we have allowed the profit motives of banks to trump the public interest.”
—Lisa J. Servon, American Prospect
After 2008, private-sector spending took a decade to recover. Yair Listokin thinks we can respond more quickly to the next meltdown by reviving and refashioning a policy approach, used in the New Deal, to harness law’s ability to function as a macroeconomic tool, stimulating or relieving demand as required under certain crisis conditions.
From 1716 to 1845 Scottish banks were among the most dynamic and resilient in Europe, effectively absorbing economic shocks that rocked markets in London and on the continent. Tyler Beck Goodspeed explains the paradox that Scotland’s banking system achieved this success without the regulations Adam Smith considered necessary for economic stability.
Established by Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright in North Carolina in 1980, the nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help has grown from an innovative financial institution dedicated to civil rights into the nation's largest home lender to low- and moderate-income borrowers. Self-Help's first capital campaign—a bake sale that raised a meager seventy-seven dollars for a credit union—may not have done much to fulfill the organization's early goals of promoting worker-owned businesses, but it was a crucial first step toward wielding inclusive lending as a weapon for economic justice. In Lending Power journalist and historian Howard E. Covington Jr. narrates the compelling story of Self-Help's founders and coworkers as they built a progressive and community-oriented financial institution. First established to assist workers displaced by closed furniture and textile mills, Self-Help created a credit union that expanded into providing home loans for those on the margins of the financial market, especially people of color and single mothers. Using its own lending record, Self-Help convinced commercial banks to follow suit, extending its influence well beyond North Carolina. In 1999 its efforts led to the first state law against predatory lending. A decade later, as the Great Recession ravaged the nation's economy, its legislative victories helped influence the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Self-Help also created a federally chartered credit union to expand to California and later to Illinois and Florida, where it assisted ailing community-based credit unions and financial institutions. Throughout its history, Self-Help has never wavered from its mission to use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of justice to extend economic opportunity to the nation's unbanked and underserved citizens. With nearly two billion dollars in assets, Self-Help also shows that such a model for nonprofits can be financially successful while serving the greater good. At a time when calls for economic justice are growing ever louder, Lending Power shows how hard-working and dedicated people can help improve their communities.
Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor compare banking systems in the U.S. and UK to those of Canada and Australia and explain why the system imploded in the former but not the latter. Canadian and Australian banks were able to make profits through traditional lending practices, unlike their competition-driven, risk-taking U.S. and UK counterparts.
Banks and bankers are hardly the most beloved institutions and people in this country. With its corruptive influence on politics and stranglehold on the American economy, Wall Street is held in high regard by few outside the financial sector. But the pitchforks raised against this behemoth are largely rhetorical: we rarely see riots in the streets or public demands for an equitable and democratic banking system that result in serious national changes.
Yet the situation was vastly different a century ago, as Christopher W. Shaw shows. This book upends the conventional thinking that financial policy in the early twentieth century was set primarily by the needs and demands of bankers. Shaw shows that banking and politics were directly shaped by the literal and symbolic investments of the grassroots. This engagement remade financial institutions and the national economy, through populist pressure and the establishment of federal regulatory programs and agencies like the Farm Credit System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Shaw reveals the surprising groundswell behind seemingly arcane legislation, as well as the power of the people to demand serious political repercussions for the banks that caused the Great Depression. One result of this sustained interest and pressure was legislation and regulation that brought on a long period of relative financial stability, with a reduced frequency of economic booms and busts. Ironically, this stability led to the decline of the very banking politics that brought it about.
Giving voice to a broad swath of American figures, including workers, farmers, politicians, and bankers alike, Money, Power, and the People recasts our understanding of what might be possible in balancing the needs of the people with those of their financial institutions.
Years have passed since the world experienced one of the worst financial crises in history, and while countless experts have analyzed it, many central questions remain unanswered. Should money creation be considered a ‘public’ or ‘private’ activity—or both? What do we mean by, and want from, financial stability? What role should regulation play? How would we design our monetary institutions if we could start from scratch?
In The Money Problem, Morgan Ricks addresses all of these questions and more, offering a practical yet elegant blueprint for a modernized system of money and banking—one that, crucially, can be accomplished through incremental changes to the United States’ current system. He brings a critical, missing dimension to the ongoing debates over financial stability policy, arguing that the issue is primarily one of monetary system design. The Money Problem offers a way to mitigate the risk of catastrophic panic in the future, and it will expand the financial reform conversation in the United States and abroad.
Panic in Paradise is a comprehensive study of bank loan failures during the Florida land boom of the mid-1920s, during the years preceding the stock market crash of 1929. Florida and Georgia experienced a banking panic in 1926 when, in a ten-day period in July, after uncontrollable depositor runs, 117 banks closed in the two states. Uninsured depositors lost millions, and several suicides followed the financial havoc. This volume makes use of banking records that were legally sealed for almost 70 years and provides a shocking story of professional corruption and conspiracy.
"An extraordinary and unusual book that makes an important contribution to our understanding of banking history and the general economic history oof the 1920s. The banking collapse in the Southeast is virtually unknown, even to specialists in banking and financial history. No one who is interested in the banking history of the United States will want to miss this book." -- Eugene N. White, Rutgers University
"An exhaustively researched pioneering study; brilliant investigative reporting." -- Jack Blicksilver, Georgia State University
Since the late 1950s the world's banks have expanded their global operations, with US institutions leading the way. As the recent global economic crisis shows, actions of private bankers can threaten capital markets, weaken national regulatory systems, and strain international cooperation-seriously endangering the world economy and the interests of nation states.
Mintz and Schwartz offer a fascinating tour of the corporate world. Through an intensive study of interlocking corporate directorates, they show that for the first time in American history the loan making and stock purchasing and selling powers are concentrated in the same hands: the leadership of major financial firms. Their detailed descriptions of corporate case histories include the forced ouster of Howard Hughes from TWA in the late fifties as a result of lenders' pressure; the collapse of Chrysler in the late seventies owing to banks' refusal to provide further capital infusions; and the very different "rescues" of Pan American Airlines and Braniff Airlines by bank intervention in the seventies.
Since banking systems play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the economy, the adverse effects of poorly supervised systems may be quite severe. Without some form of vigilant external oversight, banking systems could fall prey to excessive risk taking, moral hazard, and corruption. Prudential supervision provides that oversight, using government regulation and monitoring to ensure the soundness of the banking system and, by extension, the economy at large.
The contributors to this thoughtful volume examine the current state of prudential supervision, focusing on fundamental issues and key pragmatic concerns. Why is prudential supervision so important? What kinds of excess must it guard against? What particular forms does it take? Which of these are the most effective deterrents against mismanagement and system overload in today's rapidly shifting financial climate? The contributors foresee a continued movement beyond simple regulatory rules in banking and toward a more active evaluation and supervision of a bank's risk management practices.
The Bank of the United States sparked several rounds of intense debate over the meaning of the Constitution’s Necessary and Proper Clause, which authorizes the federal government to make laws that are “necessary” for exercising its other powers. Our standard account of the national bank controversy, however, is incomplete. The controversy was much more dynamic than a two-sided debate over a single constitutional provision and was shaped as much by politics as by law.
With Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy, Eric Lomazoff offers a far more robust account of the constitutional politics of national banking between 1791 and 1832. During that time, three forces—changes within the Bank itself, growing tension over federal power within the Republican coalition, and the endurance of monetary turmoil beyond the War of 1812 —drove the development of our first major debate over the scope of federal power at least as much as the formal dimensions of the Constitution or the absence of a shared legal definition for the word “necessary.” These three forces—sometimes alone, sometimes in combination—repeatedly reshaped the terms on which the Bank’s constitutionality was contested. Lomazoff documents how these three dimensions of the polity changed over time and traces the manner in which they periodically led federal officials to adjust their claims about the Bank’s constitutionality. This includes the emergence of the Coinage Clause—which gives Congress power to “coin money, regulate the value thereof”—as a novel justification for the institution. He concludes the book by explaining why a more robust account of the national bank controversy can help us understand the constitutional basis for modern American monetary politics.
Republic of Debtors
Bruce H Mann Harvard University Press, 2002 Library of Congress HG3766.M29 2002 | Dewey Decimal 332.750973
Debt was an inescapable fact of life in early America. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, its sinfulness was preached by ministers and the right to imprison debtors was unquestioned. By 1800, imprisonment for debt was under attack and insolvency was no longer seen as a moral failure, merely an economic setback. In Republic of Debtors, Bruce H. Mann illuminates this crucial transformation in early American society.
The People’s Bank of China surpasses the Federal Reserve as the world’s biggest central bank. In the first comprehensive account of the evolution of central banking and monetary policy in reform China, Stephen Bell and Hui Feng show how the PBC’s authority grew from a Leninist party-state that once jealously guarded its control.