All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power
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All the Presidents’ Bankers is a groundbreaking narrative of how an elite group of men transformed the American economy and government, dictated foreign and domestic policy, and shaped world history.
Culled from original presidential archival documents, All the Presidents’ Bankers delivers an explosive account of the hundred-year interdependence between the White House and Wall Street that transcends a simple analysis of money driving politics—or greed driving bankers.
Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots, and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage, and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. These families and individuals recycle their power through elected office and private channels in Washington, DC.
All the Presidents’ Bankers sheds new light on pivotal historic events—such as why, after the Panic of 1907, America’s dominant bankers convened to fashion the Federal Reserve System; how J. P. Morgan’s ambitions motivated President Wilson during World War I; how Chase and National City Bank chairmen worked secretly with President Roosevelt to rescue capitalism during the Great Depression while J.P. Morgan Jr. invited Roosevelt’s son yachting; and how American financiers collaborated with President Truman to construct the World Bank and IMF after World War II.
Prins divulges how, through the Cold War and Vietnam era, presidents and bankers pushed America’s superpower status and expansion abroad, while promoting broadly democratic values and social welfare at home. But from the 1970s, Wall Street’s rush to secure Middle East oil profits altered the nature of political-financial alliances. Bankers’ profit motive trumped heritage and allegiance to public service, while presidents lost control over the economy—as was dramatically evident in the financial crisis of 2008.
This unprecedented history of American power illuminates how the same financiers retained their authoritative position through history, swaying presidents regardless of party affiliation. All the Presidents’ Bankers explores the alarming global repercussions of a system lacking barriers between public office and private power. Prins leaves us with an ominous choice: either we break the alliances of the power elite, or they will break us.
got the ball rolling, sending their trading exemption requests to Gramm. She began granting exemptions to companies to circumvent various trading limitations.34 In October 1991, she granted J. Aron, a Goldman Sachs subsidiary that specialized in commodity trading, a key exemption. The firm would no longer have to operate under prevailing trading position limits of five thousand futures at a time; they could technically trade volumes of commodity futures without limits. The exemption was granted
31. Charles D. Ellis and James R. Vertin, Wall Street People: True Stories of the Great Barons of Finance (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003), 188. 32. Jerry Markham, A Financial History of the United States: Volume II (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002), 146. 33. “History,” The Roosevelt Hotel, at www.theroosevelthotel.com/defaultaspx?pg=history. 34. Herbert Hoover, “Remarks to a Chamber of Commerce Conference on the Mobilization of Business and Industry for Economic Stabilization,” December 5, 1929,
just now for war,” he told Wilson, “and that mood is what is making the work of our soldiers in France so effective. We are necessarily intolerant and not ready as a whole to listen to such sentiments as you express.” “Yes, not only intolerant,” said Wilson, “but we are growing revengeful . . . a very dangerous attitude and not one calculated to have us conclude the wisest sort of a peace.” “Exactly!” said Lamont. “Now, the Evening Post has considerable influence throughout the country. . . . I
all time to come, but I want to have you know that you have that support to the very limit throughout the war.”52 Thus the two began a transformative relationship that would solidify through postwar collaboration. Lamont, a Republican Morgan banker who personified all the attributes Wilson denigrated in his political speeches, threw his support behind Wilson. He would become the president’s most loyal banker supporter. On November 2, 1918, US food administrator Herbert Hoover reported dire
an automobile in the future . . . an economic purpose, a standard of living purpose.”11 The more people saved, went his reasoning, the more they would consider investing in things like bonds. Thus, Snyder played a key role in fashioning the acceptability of debt to fund the pent-up needs and desires of postwar America. The bankers did their share to provide the credit to support that way of life, appealing to the public to both save and borrow. The Federal Reserve played its part, too. The Fed