Monetary and political scientists continue to expound the theoretical merits of the Federal Reserve System. It has become a modern act of faith that economic life simply could not go on without it. But the time for theory is past. The Creature moved into its final lair in 1913 and has snorted and thrashed about the landscape ever since. If we wish to know if it is a creature of service or a beast of prey, we merely have to look at what it has done. And, after the test of all those years, we can be sure that what it has done, it will continue to do. Or, to use the Biblical axiom, a tree shall be known by the fruit it bears. Let us now examine the Harvest.
THE LONDON CONNECTION
The rise of the House of Morgan; Morgan's ties with England and the House of Rothschild; the connection between the Federal Reserve System and the Bank of England; the Fed's decision to inflate American dollars to assist the ailing British economy.
The period between the Civil War and the enactment of the Federal Reserve System was one of great economic volatility and no small measure of chaos. The National Banking Acts of 1863-65 established a system of federally chartered banks which were given significant privilege and power over the monetary system. They were granted a monopoly in the issuance of bank notes, and the government agreed to accept those notes for the payment of taxes and duties. They were allowed to back this money up to ninety per cent with government bonds instead of gold. And they were guaranteed that every bank in the system would have to accept the notes of every other bank at face value, regardless of how shaky their position. The net effect was that the banking system of the United States after the Civil War, far from being free and unregulated as some historians have claimed, was literally a halfway house to central banking.
The notion of being able to generate prosperity simply by creating more money has always fascinated politicians and businessmen, but at no time in our history was it more in vogue than in the second half of the nineteenth century. The nation had gone mad with the Midas complex, a compulsion to turn everything into money through the magic of banking. Personal checks gradually had become accepted in commerce just as readily as bank notes, and the banks obliged their customers by entering into their passbooks just as many little numbers as they cared to "borrow." As Groseclose observed: "The manna of cheap money became the universal cry, and as with the Israelites, the easier the manna was acquired, the louder became the complaint, the less willing the people to struggle for it."
The prevailing philosophy of that time was aptly expressed by Jay Cooke, the famous financier who had marketed the huge Civil War loans of the federal government and who now was raising $100 million for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Cooke had published a pamphlet which was aptly summarized by its own title: How Our National Debt May Be a National Blessing. The Debt is Public Wealth, Political Union, Protection of Industry, Secure Basis for National Currency. "Why," asked Cooke, "should this Grand and Glorious country be stunted and dwarfed-its activities chilled and its very life blood curdled by these miserable 'hard coin' theories-the musty theories of a bygone age."2 As it turned out, however, the chilling and curdling came, not from the musty hard-coin theories of the past, but from the glittering easy-money theories of the present. The Northern Pacific went bankrupt and, as the mountain of imaginary money invested in it collapsed back into nothing, Cooke's giant investment firm disappeared along with it, triggering the panic of 1873 as it went. Matthew Josephson writes:
"All about the failure of Jay Cooke!" newsboys hawked throughout the country....
The largest and most pious bank in the Western world had fallen with the effect of a thunderclap. Soon allied brokers and national banks and 5,000 commercial houses followed it into the abyss of bankruptcy. All day long, in Wall Street, one suspension after another was announced; railroads failed; leading stocks lost 30 to 40 points, or half their value, within the hour; immeasurable waves of fear altered the movement of greed; the exchanges were closed; the stampede, the "greatest" crisis in American history, was on."
AND STILL MORE BOOMS AND BUSTS
Altogether, there were four major contractions of the money supply during this period: the so-called panics of 1873, 1884, 1893, and 1907. Each of them was characterized by inadequate bank reserves and the suspension of specie payment. Congress reacted,
- Groseclose, Money and Man, p. 202.
- Quoted by Rothbard, Mystery, p. 231.
Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1934), p. 170.
not by requiring an increase in reserves which would have improved the safety margin, but by allowing a decrease. In June of 1874, legislation was passed which permitted the banks to back their notes entirely with government bonds. That, of course, meant more fiat money for Congress, but it also meant that bank notes no longer had any specie backing at all, not even ten per cent. This released over $20 million from bank reserves which then could be used as the basis for pyramiding even more checkbook money into the economy.
It has become accepted mythology that these panics were caused by seasonal demands for farm loans at harvest time. To supply those funds, the country banks had to draw down their cash reserves which generally were deposited with the larger city banks. This thinned out the reserves held in the cities, and the whole system became more vulnerable. Actually that part of the legend is true, but apparently no one is expected to ask questions about the rest of the story. Several of them come to mind. Why wasn't there a panic every Autumn instead of just every eleven years or so? Why didn't all banks-country or city-maintain adequate reserves to cover their depositor demands? And why didn't they do this in all seasons of the year? Why would merely saying no to some loan applicants cause hundreds of banks to fail? The myth falls apart under the weight of these questions.
The truth is that, if it hadn't been seasonal demand by agriculture, the money magicians simply would have found another scapegoat. It would have been "immobile" reserves, lack of "elasticity" in the money supply, "imbalance" of international payments, or some other technocratic smoke screen to cover the real problem which was-and always has been-fractional-reserve banking itself. The bottom line was that, in spite of an elaborate scheme to pool the minuscule reserves of country banks into larger regional banks where they could be rushed from town to town like a keg of coins on the old frontier, it still didn't work. The loaves and fishes stubbornly refused to multiply.
MORGAN PROSPERS WHEN OTHERS FAIL
The monetary expansions and contractions of this period were large waves that capsized thousands of investment ships at sea. But there was one large vessel that, somehow, bobbed up and down with the surges quite well and could be seen throughout the salvaging the abandoned cargoes of those that were in distress. This vessel brought back to port untold riches that once had been the property of others but now belonged to the master of the salvage ship in accordance with rules of the high sea. The captain's name was J.P. Morgan.
It will be recalled from a previous section that J.P. Morgan and Company was no small player in the world chess match called World War I. Morgan had been chosen by the French and British governments as the official agent to sell their war bonds in the U.S. When the war began to go badly for them, the Morgan interests began to agitate for American entry into the conflict, a move which was calculated to save the loans. The Morgan firm also was the official U.S. trade agent for Britain. In violation of international treaty, it handled the purchase and shipping to England of all war material, including the enormous cargo of munitions aboard the Lusitania when she went down.
The close relationship between the Morgans and Great Britain was no accident. J.P. Morgan, Jr., was the driving force behind the Council on Foreign Relations, the American branch of a secret society established by Cecil Rhodes for the expansion of the British empire. In truth, the Morgans were more British than American.
The reason for this is to be found in the origin of the Morgan dynasty. It all began with an American merchant from Danvers, Massachusetts, by the name of George Peabody. In 1837, Peabody traveled to England as a bond salesman for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, hoping to find British investors to replace the missing ranks of Americans who, because of a recession at that time, showed little interest in the project. He routinely was rejected by the large investment houses of London but, eventually, his persistence paid off. Stanley Jackson, in his biography of Morgan, says of Peabody:
When the panic [in the U.S.] at last started to subside, he called time and again on the big City barons [in London] to assure them that Maryland and other states would honor their bonds. He also continued backing American securities with his personal funds. Buying at almost giveaway levels, he later reaped a rich harvest. He unloaded most of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal bonds and won acclaim back home for returning his $60,000 commission intact to Maryland's meager treasury.1
1. Stanley Jackson, J.P. Morgan (New York: Stein and Day, 1983), p. 37.
It was during this trip that Peabody opened an import-export business at 22 Old Broad Street in London and began to provide loans and letters of credit to many of his shippers. That moved him into the investment business specializing in transactions between Britain and the United States.
It was fortunate timing. This was the beginning of a period of rapid expansion in the United States, accompanied by an insatiable need for investment capital and a plethora of bond issues offering tantalizing rates of return which were substantially higher than comparable offerings in Europe. Peabody's firm was in an unusual position to exploit this expanding market, and his firm grew rapidly.
Peabody never married and, as he advanced in years, began to look for someone to carry on the business. The qualifications for such a position were difficult. First, the man had to be an American by birth in order to appear authentic as the representative of American investments. Secondly, he had to be British by instinct and preference. This included being well educated and with good breeding in order to be accepted by the aristocracy in London's financial world. Third, he had to have knowledge of Anglo-American finance. And fourth, Peabody had to like him.
JUNIUS MORGAN SELECTED BY PEABODY
When the Boston merchant, Junius Morgan, met George Peabody at a London dinner party in 1850, little did he realize that the elder financier took an immediate liking to him and began to discreetly inquire into his background and reputation. This began an extended period of business and social contact that eventually ended in 1854 when Junius moved his family to London and became a full partner in the firm which, eventually, became known as Peabody, Morgan & Company.
In addition to selling bonds in England for American commercial ventures and state governments, the partnership also became the chief fiscal agent for the Union government during the Civil War, and it was during this period that the firm's great profits pushed it into the top echelons of London's financial fraternity. In 1864, Peabody finally retired and completely turned the business over to Junius who immediately changed the firm's name to J.S. Morgan and Company.
Junius's son, John Pierpont, attended the English High School in Boston but, during much of his youth, was enrolled in European schools and became engulfed in British tradition. He had been born in the United States, however, and that made him ideally suited to carry on the Anglo-American role played so deftly by Peabody and Junius. It was inevitable that the boy would be trained in international finance and groomed to step into his father's shoes. The first move was to find employment for him in 1857 at the New York investment firm of Duncan, Sherman & Company. Seven years later, Junius acquired a competitor New York firm and set his son up as a partner in Dabney, Morgan & Company, which became the New York branch of the London firm. In 1871, with the addition of a third partner, Anthony Drexel from Philadelphia, the firm became Drexel, Morgan & Company. In 1895, following the death of Drexel, there was a final change of name to J.P. Morgan & Company. A branch in Paris became known as Morgan, Harjes & Company.
AMERICANIZING THE NEW YORK BRANCH
After the unexpected death of Junius in a carriage accident a few years later, it was decided by Pierpont to reshape the image of the London firm to be a more British operation. This would allow the New York branch to represent the American side with less suspicion of being essentially the same firm. By that time, his son, J.P. Morgan, Jr.-known as Jack by his friends-had already been brought into the firm as a partner, and he was to play an important role in the creation of that image. Biographer John Forbes tells us:
J.P. Morgan, Jr., became a partner in the London house of J.S. Morgan & Co. on January 1, 1898, and a fortnight later, with his wife Jessie and their three children,... he left New York and took up residence in England for the next eight years.
Morgan was sent to London to do two specific things. The first was to learn at first hand how the British carried on a banking business under a central banking system dominated by the Bank of England. Morgan, Sr., anticipated the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in the United States and wanted someone who would eventually have authority in the Morgan firms to know how such a system worked. The second was quietly to look about the City and select British partners to convert the elder Morgan's privately owned J.S. Morgan & Co. into a British concern.
This eventually was accomplished by the addition of Edward Grenfell, a long-time director of the Bank of England, as the new senior partner of what became Morgan, Grenfell & Company. But none of this window dressing altered the reality that J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York remained more British in orientation than American.
A casual reading of the events of this period would lead to the conclusion that Peabody and Morgan were fierce competitors of the Rothschilds. It is true they often bid against each other for the same business, but it is also true that almost every biographer has told how the American newcomers to London were in awe of the great power of the Rothschilds and how they purposely cultivated their friendship, a friendship that eventually became so intimate that the Americans were received as the personal house guests of the Rothschilds. The Morgan firm often worked closely with the House of Rothschild on large joint ventures, but that was-and still is- common practice among large investment houses. In light of subsequent events, however, it is appropriate to consider the possibility that an arrangement had been worked out in which the Peabody/Morgan firm went one step further and, on occasion, became a secret Rothschild agent.
CONCEALED ALLIANCE WITH ROTHSCHILD?
Some writers have suggested that the clandestine relationship began almost from the beginning. Eustace Mullins, for example, writes:
Soon after he arrived in London, George Peabody was surprised to be summoned to an audience with the gruff Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild. Without mincing words, Rothschild revealed to Peabody that much of the London aristocracy openly disliked Rothschild and refused his invitations. He proposed that Peabody, a man of modest means, be established as a lavish host whose entertainments would soon be the talk of London. Rothschild would, of course, pay all the bills. Peabody accepted the offer and soon became known as the most popular host in London. His annual Fourth-of-July dinner, celebrating American Independence, became extremely popular with the English aristocracy, many of whom, while drinking Peabody's wine, regaled each other with jokes about Rothschild's crudities and bad manners,
1. This apparently has not diminished over the years. The December 23, 1991, issue of Business Week (p. 69) reminds us that the CEO of J.P. Morgan & Co., Dennis Weatherstone who lives in Connecticut, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth without realizing that every drop they drank had been paid for by Rothschild. 1
Mullins does not give a reference for the source of this story, and one cannot help being skeptical that such details could be proved. Nevertheless, a secret arrangement of this kind is not as absurd as it may sound. There is no question that the Rothschilds were quite capable of such a clandestine relationship and, in fact, this is exactly the kind of deception for which they had become famous. Furthermore, there was ample reason for them to do so. A strong anti-Semitic and anti-Rothschild sentiment had grown up in Europe and the United States, and the family often found it to its advantage to work through agents rather than to deal directly. Derek Wilson tells us: "The name 'Rothschild' was, thus, beginning to be heard in places far removed from sophisticated London and Paris. But the connection with the great bankers was sometimes tenuous."2
That tenuous connection was precisely the role to be played by August Belmont in the United States, and the anti-Semitism he found there was undoubtedly the reason he changed his name from Schoenberg to Belmont upon landing in New York in 1837. Prior to that, the Rothschild agent had been the firm of J.L. and S.I. Joseph & Company, about as American sounding as one can get. It was not long, however, before the Belmont-Rothschild connection became common knowledge, and the ploy ceased to be effective.
In 1848, the family decided to send Alphonse Rothschild to the United States to check on Belmont's operations and to evaluate the possibility of replacing him with a direct Rothschild representative, perhaps Alphonse himself. After an extended visit, he wrote home:
In a few years from now America will have attracted to itself the greater part of trade with China and the Indies and will be enthroned between the two oceans.... The country possesses such elements of prosperity that one would have to be blind not to recognize them.... I have no hesitation in saying that a Rothschild house, and not just an agency, should be established in America.... Today we are presented with a fine opportunity. Later on, difficulties will of necessity arise as a result of competition from all sides.3
- Eustace Mullins, Secrets of the Federal Reserve (Virginia: Bankers Research Institute, 1983), p. 49.
- Derek Wilson, p. 176.
- B. Gille, Histoire de la Maison Rothschild, Vol. I, 1965-1967, p. 581, cited by Derek Wilson, p. 181.
Some historians have expressed amazement over the fact that the recommendation was never acted upon. Wilson says: "This was the greatest opportunity the Rothschilds ever lost." 1 Those with a more skeptical bent are tempted to wonder if the opportunity really was lost or if it was merely taken in a more indirect fashion. It is significant that, precisely at this time, George Peabody was making a name for himself in London and had established a close relationship with Nathan Rothschild. Is it possible that the Peabody firm was given the nod from the Rothschild consortium to represent them in America? And is it possible that the plan included allowing Belmont to operate as a known Rothschild agent while using Peabody & Company as an unknown agent, thus, providing their own competition?
John Moody answers: "The Rothschilds were content to remain a close ally of Morgan rather than a competitor as far as the American field was concerned."2 Gabriel Kolko says: "Morgan's activities in 1895-1896 in selling U.S. gold bonds in Europe were based on his alliance with the House of Rothschild."3 Sereno Pratt says: "These houses may, like J.P. Morgan & Company ... represent here the great firms and institutions of Europe, just as August Belmont & Company have long represented the Rothschilds." 4 And George Wheeler writes: "Part of the reality of the day was an ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism.... Someone was needed as a cover. Who better than J. Pierpont Morgan, a solid, Protestant exemplar of capitalism able to trace his family back to pre-Revolutionary times?"5
RISE OF THE HOUSE OF MORGAN
With these considerations as background, the meteoric rise of Morgan's star over London and Wall Street can be readily understood. It is no longer surprising, for example, that Peabody & Company was the sole American investment firm to receive a gigantic loan from the Bank of England during the U.S. panic of 1857, a loan which not only saved it from sinking, but made it
- Derek Wilson, p. 182.
- Moody, p. 27.
- Kolko, Triumph, p. 142.
- Sereno S. Pratt, The Work of Wall Street (New York: D. Appleton, 1916; rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1975), p. 349.
- Wheeler, pp. 17-18, 42.
possible to seize and salvage many other ships that were then capsized on Wall Street.
Peabody had become active in the business of discounting acceptances, which is banker language for insuring commercial loans issued for the purchase of goods. This is how it works: The seller issues a bill with a stipulation that he must be paid at a future date, usually ninety days. When the buyer receives the bill, his bank writes the word "accepted" across the face of it and adds the signature of an officer, making it a legally binding contract. In other words, the bank becomes a co-signer on the buyer's credit and guarantees payment even if the buyer should default.
Naturally, there is a price for this guarantee. That price is stated as a percentage of the total bill and it is either added to the amount paid by the buyer or deducted from the amount received by the seller. Actually there is a fee paid at both ends of the transaction, one to the seller's bank which receives the acceptance and pays out the money, and one to the issuing bank which assumes the liability of guaranteeing payment. The sale is said to be "discounted" by the amount paid to the banks. And so it was that Peabody & Company had been active in the business of discounting acceptances, primarily between sellers in England and buyers in the United States.
MORGAN AND THE PANIC OF 1857
In the Wall Street panic of 1857, many U.S. buyers were unable to pay their bills, and Peabody and Morgan were expected to make good on their guarantees. Naturally, they didn't have the money, and the firm was facing certain bankruptcy unless the money could be obtained from somewhere. Stanley Jackson provides the details:
The slump was catastrophic for Peabody & Co. It suddenly found itself committed to acceptances of £2 million and with no hope of discharging even part of a stockpile of depreciating bonds on New York brokers and bankers, themselves now desperately short of ready funds. The firm was soon paying out thousands of pounds a day. Without raising a large temporary loan the partners would be forced to suspend business altogether. 1
Ron Chernow, in The House of Morgan, says: "Rumors raced through London that George Peabody and Company was about to fail, a prospect heartily relished by rivals.... The major London
1. Jackson, p. 56.
houses told Morgan they would bail out the firm-but only if Peabody shut down the bank within a year."1 Jackson continues the narrative:
The clouds lifted dramatically when the Bank of England announced a loan to Peabody's of £800,000, at very reasonable interest, with the promise of further funds up to a million sterling if and when required. It was a remarkable vote of confidence as Thomas Hankey [governor of the Bank of England] had already rejected similar appeals from various American firms who did not measure up to his standards.... Peabody & Company recovered almost overnight and indeed hoisted its turnover above pre-slump levels?
With an almost unlimited access to cash and credit backed by the Bank of England, Peabody and Morgan were able to wade hip deep through the depreciated stocks and bonds that were sold to them at sacrifice prices on Wall Street. Within only a few years, when sanity had been restored to American markets, the assets of the firm had grown to gigantic proportions.3
This event tells us a great deal about relationships. If the Rothschilds truly had been competitors, they would have seized upon this opportunity and used their great influence within the Bank of England and the other investment houses in London to squeeze out Peabody, not to assist him. The Barings, in particular, were already trying to accomplish exactly that. The Rothschilds must have believed that a successful Peabody firm ultimately would be in their own best interest.
ANTI-SEMITISM WAS PROFITABLE
In later years, Jack Morgan (J.P., Jr.) would assume the role of a staunch anti-Semite, and this undoubtedly strengthened his hand at dealing with American investors and borrowers who were loath to have anything to do with Jewish bankers. That, of course, included officials of the U.S. Treasury. It was particularly helpful during the 1896 rescue of the federal government from a decline in its gold reserves. Fearing that it would not be able to honor its promise to exchange paper money for gold coins, the government was forced to borrow $62 million in gold. The House of Rothschild was an obvious source for such a loan, but the Treasury wanted to avoid an
- Chernow, p. 11.
- Jackson, pp. 56-57.
- Josephson, p. 60.
anti-Semitic backlash. Everything fell into place, however, when Morgan and Company became the primary lender, with Rothschild apparently demoted to the role of a mere participant. Wheeler writes:
The consummate politicians of the Cleveland administration ... were certainly aware of the dangers inherent in promoting a rescue effort for the United States Treasury that would be financed by those archetypes of "international Jewish financiers," the Rothschilds....
During these developments, Pierpont Morgan took no direct part in the salvage effort. Up to this point it looked as if the aging financier-he would be fifty-eight in two months-would be merely one among many in this and whatever subsequent bond arrangements would be necessary. It seemed as though he would move on into old age with little more to round out his obituary than his awkward attempt to profiteer on the sale of rifles at the start of the Civil War, his minor shorting of the Union in gold trading toward the close, and a bold but largely unsuccessful move in the 1880s to impose an eastern capitalist cease-fire on the country's warring railroads.
But there were steps being taken even now to bring him out of the financial backwaters-and they were not being taken by Pierpont Morgan himself. The first suggestion of his name for a role in the recharging of the reserve originated with the London branch of the House of Rothschild. 1
The apparent anti-Semitism of J.P. Morgan, Jr., was again extremely profitable during World War I, when it was widely publicized that the Kaiser was funded by German-Jew bankers. To deal with the Morgan group, therefore, as opposed to Kuhn Loeb, for example, was in some circles almost a point of national patriotism.
When J.P. Morgan, Sr., died in 1913, people were shocked to learn that his estate was valued at only $68 million, a paltry sum compared to the fortunes held by the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Rockefellers. It was even more unbelievable when Jack Morgan died in 1943 and left an estate valued at only $16 million. A small amount had been transferred to members of their families prior to their deaths, but that did not account for the vast fortunes which they visibly controlled during their lives. Surely, there had been a bookkeeping sleight-of-hand. On the other hand, it may have been true. When Alphonse Rothschild died in Paris in 1905, it was revealed that his estate contained $60 million in American securities.
1. Wheeler, pp. 16-17.
The Rothschilds in Britain undoubtedly held an equally large bloc. Furthermore, manly of these securities were handled through the House of Morgan. The possibilities are obvious that a major portion of the wealth and power of the Morgan firm was, and always had been, merely the wealth and power of the Rothschilds who had raised it up in the beginning and who sustained it through its entire existence.
How much of Morgan's apparent anti-Semitism was real and how much may have been a pragmatic guise is, in the final analysis, of little importance, and we should not give unwarranted emphasis to it here. Regardless of one's interpretation of the nature of the relationship between the Houses of Morgan and Rothschild, the fact remains that it was close, it was ongoing, and it was profitable to both. If Morgan truly did harbor feelings of anti-Semitism, neither he nor the Rothschilds ever allowed them to get in the way of their business.
To put the London connection into proper perspective, it will be necessary once again to abandon a strict chronological sequence of events and jump ahead to the year 1924. So let us put our cast of characters on hold for a moment and, before allowing them to act out the drama of creating the Federal Reserve System, we shall pick up the storyline eleven years after that event had already taken place.
ENGLAND FACES A DILEMMA
At the end of World War I, Britain faced an economic dilemma. She had abandoned the gold standard early in the war in order to remove all limits from the creation of fiat money, and the result had been extreme inflation. But now she wanted to regain her former position of power and prestige in the world's financial markets and decided that, to accomplish this, it would be necessary to return to the gold standard. It was decided, further, to set the exchange value of the pound sterling (the British monetary unit) at exactly $4.86 in U.S. currency, which was approximately what it had been before the war began.
To say that she wanted to return to the gold standard actually is misleading. It was not a pure standard in which every unit of money was totally backed by a stated weight of gold. Rather, it was fractional gold standard in which only a certain fraction of all the monetary units were so backed. But, even that was much to be desired over no backing whatsoever for three reasons. First, it created greater consumer confidence in the money system because of the implied promise to redeem all currency in gold-even though such promises are always broken when based on a fractional-reserve. 1 Secondly, it provided an efficient means of settling financial accounts between nations, gold always being the international medium of choice. Thirdly, it applied some braking action to the production of fiat money, thus, providing a certain degree of restraint to inflation and the boom-bust cycle.
The decision to return to a fractional gold standard, therefore, while it left much to be desired, was still a step in the right direction. But there were two serious problems with the plan. The first was that the exchange value of gold can never be decided by political decree. It will always be determined by the interplay of supply and demand within the marketplace. Trying to fix the number of dollars which people will be willing to exchange for a pound sterling was like trying to legislate how many baseball cards a schoolboy will give for a purple agate. The international currency market is like a huge auction. If the auctioneer sets the opening bid too high, there will be no takers-which is exactly what happened to the pound.
The other problem was that, during the war, England had adopted a massive welfare program and a strong network of labor unions. The reason this was a problem was that the only way to make the pound acceptable in international trade was to allow its value to drop to a competitive and realistic level, and that would have meant, not only a drastic reduction in welfare benefits, but also a general lowering of prices-including the price of labor which is called wages. Politicians were quite willing to allow prices of commodities to move downward, but they did not have the courage to take any action which would reduce either welfare benefits or wages. To the contrary, they continued to bid for votes with promises of still more socialism and easy credit. Prices continued to rise.
1. The government hedged even on this provision. Only bars of gold bullion were available for redemption, not coins. This insured that gold would not circulate as money and that it would be used almost exclusively for large-scale international transactions.
ENGLAND IN DEPRESSION
With the value of the pound set artificially high in order to sustain prices, wages, and profit levels, the cost of British exports also became high, and they ceased to be competitive in world markets. With exports in decline, the amount of money coming into the country also declined. England became a debtor nation, which means that her payments to other countries were larger than her income from those countries.
As pointed out in chapter five, if an individual spends more than his income, he must either increase his income, dip into savings, sell off assets, create counterfeit, or borrow. The same is true of nations. England had already borrowed to the limit of her credit and was rapidly exhausting her savings in order to continue purchasing foreign goods to sustain the high standard of living to which she had grown accustomed. She couldn't counterfeit because payments for these imports had to be settled in gold, which meant that, as her national savings were spent, her gold supply moved out of the country. The handwriting was on the wall. If this process continued, the nation soon would be broke. It was a situation, incidentally, which was amazingly parallel to what has plagued the United States since the end of Word War II, and for mostly the same reasons.
By March of 1919, England's trade was so depressed that she had no choice but to let the value of the pound "float," which means to seek its own level in response to supply and demand. Within a year it had dropped to $3.21, a loss of thirty-four per cent. Since the American dollar was the de facto world monetary standard at that time, receiving fewer dollars for each pound sterling meant that the pound was valued lower in all the markets of the world. The result was that the price Britishers had to pay for imported goods was becoming higher while the price she received for the export of her own goods was becoming lower. The British economy was, not only badly anemic, it was experiencing a monetary hangover from the vast inflation of World War I. In other words, it was undergoing a painful but, in the long run, healthy recovery and a return to reality.
Such a condition was intolerable to the monetary and political scientists who were determined to find a quick and painless remedy which would allow the binge to continue. Several emergency therapies were administered. The first was to use the Committee of the League of Nations-which England dominated- to require all the other European nations to follow similar inflationary monetary policies. They were also required to establish what was called the "gold exchange standard," a scheme whereby all countries based their currency, not on gold, but on the pound sterling. In that way, they could all inflate together without causing a disruptive flow of gold from one to the other, and England would act as the regulator and guarantor of the system. In other words, England used the power of her position within the League of Nations to establish the Bank of England as a master central bank for all the other central banks of Europe. It was the prototype for what the Cabal now is doing with Federal Reserve and the World Bank within the framework of the United Nations.
PROBLEM OF AMERICAN PROSPERITY
Europe was well in hand, but that still left the United States to be controlled. America had also inflated during the war but not nearly as much. She also had a fractional gold standard, but the stockpile of gold was very large and still growing. As long as America continued to exist as the producer of so many commodities that England needed for import, and as long as the value of the dollar continued to be high, the anemia of the pound sterling would continue. 1
The therapy chosen for this problem was simple. Perform a monetary transfusion from a healthy patient to the unhealthy one. All the London financiers had to do was find a large and robust specimen who, without asking too many questions, would be willing to become the donor. The specimen selected, of course, was Unde Sam himself. It was the prototype of the transfer mechanism, previously described, which has been the life support keeping alive the moribund Communist and Socialist countries since World War II.
There are several ways the life blood of one nation can be transfused to another. The most direct method, of course, is to make an outright gift, such as the bizarre American ritual called foreign aid. Another is to mrke a gift disguised as something else, such as needlessly stationing military bases abroad for the sole purpose of bolstering the foreign economy, or granting a loan to a foreign
1. For an overview of the foregoing developments, see "The Federal Reserve as A Cartelization Device," by Murray N. Rothbard, in Money in Crisis, Barry N. Siegel, ed. (New York: Ballinger, 1984), pp. 115-17.
government at below market rates or-worse-with the full expectation that the loan will never be repaid. But the third way is the most ingenious of them all: to have one nation deliberately inflate its currency at a rate greater than the other nation so that real purchasing power, in terms of international trade, moves from the more inflating to the less inflating nation. This is a method truly worthy of the monetary scientists. It is so subtle and so sophisticated that not one in a thousand would even think of it, much less object to it. It was, therefore, the ideal method chosen in 1925 to benefit England at the expense of America. As Professor Rothbard observed:
In short, the American public was nominated to suffer the burdens of inflation and subsequent collapse [the crash of 1929] in order to maintain the British government and the British trade union movement in the style to which they insisted on becoming accustomed.1
At the inception of the Federal Reserve System, there had been a brief struggle for power but, within a few years, the contest was decisively won by the head of the New York Bank, Benjamin Strong. Strong, it will be recalled, previously had been head of Morgan's Bankers Trust Company and was one of the seven participants at the secret meeting on Jekyll Island. Professor Quigley reminds us that "Strong owed his career to the favor of the Morgan bank.... He became Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as the joint nominee of Morgan and Kuhn, Loeb and Company." 2
Strong was the ideal choice for the cartel. Not the least of his qualifications was his alliance with the financial powers of London. When Montagu Norman was made the Governor of the Bank of England in 1920, there began a dose personal relationship between the two central bankers which lasted until Strong's sudden death in 1928.
Norman was considered by many to be eccentric if not mentally unbalanced. Quigley says:
Norman was a strange man whose mental outlook was one of successfully suppressed hysteria or even paranoia. He had no use for government and feared democracy. Both of these seemed to him to be threats to private banking, and thus to all that was proper and precious in human life.... When he rebuilt the Bank of England, he
- Rothbard, Crisis, pp. 131-32.
- Quigley, Tragedy, p.
constructed it as a fortress prepared to defend itself against any popular revolt, with the sacred gold reserves hidden in deep vaults below the level of underground waters which could be released to cover them by pressing a button on the governor's desk. For much of his life, Norman rushed about the world by fast steamship, covering tens of thousands of miles each year, often traveling incognito, concealed by a black slouch hat and a long black cloak, under the assumed name of "Professor Skinner."...
Norman had a devoted colleague in Benjamin Strong.... In the 1920s, they were determined to use the financial power of Britain and of the United States to force all the major countries of the world to go on the gold standard [with an artificial value set for the benefit of England] and to operate it through central banks free from all political control, with all questions of international finance to be settled by agreements by such central banks without interference from governments.1
Strong and Norman spent many holidays together, sometimes in Bar Harbor, Maine, but usually in Southern France, and they crisscrossed the Atlantic on numerous other occasions to consult with each other on their plan for controlling the world economy.
Lester Chandler tells us: "Their associations were so frequent and
prolonged and their collaboration so close that it is still impossible
to determine accurately their relative roles in developing some of the ideas and projects that they shared." 2 The Bank of England provided Strong with an office and a private secretary during his visits, and the two men kept in close contact with each other through the weekly exchange of private cables. All of these meetings and communiques were kept in strict secrecy. When their frequent visits
drew inquiries from the press, the standard reply was that they were just friends getting together for recreation or informal chats.
By 1926, the heads of the central banks of France and Germany were
occasionally included in their meetings which, according to
Norman's biographer, were "more secret than any ever held by
Royal Arch Masons or by any Rosicrucian Order." 3
- Quigley, Tragedy, p. 326.
- Lester V. Chandler, Benjamin Strong, Central Banker (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1958, reprinted by Arno Press, A New York Times Company, 1978),
- John Hargrave, Montagu Norman (New York: Greystone Press, 1942), p. 108.
SECRET MEETING OF 1927
The culmination of these discussions took place at a secret meeting in 1927 at which it was agreed that the financial lifeblood of the American people would be donated for a massive transfusion to Great Britain. Galbraith sets the scene:
On July 1, 1927, the Mauretania arrived in New York with two notable passengers, Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, and Hjalmar Schacht, head of the German Reichsbank.... The secrecy covering the visit was extreme and to a degree ostentatious. The names of neither of the great bankers appeared on the passenger list. Neither, on arriving, met with the press....
In New York the two men were joined by Charles Rist, the Deputy Governor of the Banque de France, and they went into conference with Benjamin Strong, the Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New
The principle, or in any case the ultimately important, sub' ' discussion was the persistently weak reserve position of the Bank of England. This, the bankers thought, could be helped if the Federal Reserve System would ease interest rates, encourage lending. Holders of gold would then seek the higher returns from keeping their metal in London. And, in time, higher prices in the United States would ease the competitive position of British industry and labor. 1
Galbraith speaks with soft phrases to cushion a harsh reality. What he is saying is that the purpose of the meeting was to finalize a plan whereby the Governor of the Federal Reserve System was to deliberately create inflation in the U.S. so that American prices would rise, making U.S. goods less competitive in world markets and causing American gold to move to the Bank of England. Governor Strong needed little convincing. That is precisely what he and Norman had planned to do all along and, in fact, he had already begun to implement the plan. The purpose of inviting the Germans and the French to the meeting was to enlist their agreement to create inflation in their countries as well. Schacht and Rist would have no part of it and left the meeting early, leaving Strong and Norman to work out the final details between them.
Strong was more concerned about British fortunes than American. In a letter written in May of 1924 to Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, he discussed the necessity of lowering American interest rates as a step toward money expansion with the
1. Galbraith, pp. 174-
objective of raising American prices relative to those in Great Britain. He acknowledged that the goal was to protect England from having to cut back on wages, profits, and welfare. He said:
At the present time it is probably true that British prices for goods internationally dealt in are as a whole, roughly, in the neighborhood of 10 percent above our prices, and one of the preliminaries to the re-establishment of gold payment by Great Britain will be to facilitate a gradual readjustment of these price levels before monetary reform is undertaken. In other words, this means some small advance in prices here and possibly some small decline in their prices....
The burden of this readjustment must fall more largely upon us than upon them. It will be difficult politically and socially for the British Government and the Bank of England to face a price liquidation in England ... in face of the fact that trade is poor and they have over a million unemployed people receiving government aid. 1
BRINGING DOWN THE DOLLAR
The Mandrake Mechanism of the Federal Reserve went into high gear on behalf of the Bank of England in 1924, several years before the historic meeting between Strong, Norman, and Rist. There were two great surges of monetary expansion. The first came with the monetization of $492 million in bonds plus almost twice as much in banker's acceptances. The second burst of inflation came in the latter half of 1927, immediately following the secret meeting between Strong, Norman, Schacht, and Rist. It involved the funding of $225 million in government bonds plus $220 million in banker's acceptances, for a total increase in bank reserves of $445 million. At the same time, the rediscount rate to member banks (the interest rate they pay to borrow from the Fed) was lowered from 4 to 3.5 per cent, making it easier for those banks to acquire additional "reserves" out of which they could create even more fiat dollars. The amount created on top of that by the commercial banks is about five and a-half times the amount created by the Fed, which means a total money flood in excess of $10 billion in just six years.
- Chandler, pp. 282-84.
- Approximately $1,328,000,000 in the first burst, including both bonds and acceptances, plus $445,000,000 in the second burst equals $1,773,000,000. This amount multiplied by 5.5 equals $9,751,500,000. Add the original $1,773,000,000 used as a base, and the total is $11,524,500,000. This estimate is reasonably close to the figure of $10,661,000,000 published by the Fed itself, which represents the growth in total deposits and currency in circulation during that period. See "Deposits and Currency," p. 34.
Throughout this period, the demand by the System for government bonds and acceptances pushed interest rates down.1 As anticipated, people with gold then preferred to send it to London where it could earn a higher yield, and America's gold supply began to move abroad. Furthermore, as inflation began to eat its way into the purchasing power of the dollar, the prices of American -made goods began to rise in world markets making them less competitive; U.S. exports began to decline; unemployment began to rise; low interest rates and easy credit led to speculation in the securities markets; and the system lunged full speed ahead toward the Great Crash of 1929. But that part of the story must wait for another addendum.
The technician who actually drafted the final version of the Federal Reserve Act was H. Parker Willis. After the System was created, he was appointed as First Secretary of the Board of Governors. By 1929, he had become disillusioned with the cartel and, in an article published in The North American Review, he wrote:
In the autumn of 1926 a group of bankers, among whom was one with a world famous name, were sitting at a table in a Washington hotel. One of them raised the question whether the low discount rates of the System were not likely to encourage speculation. "Yes," replied the conspicuous figure referred to, "they will, but that cannot be helped. It is the price we must pay for helping Europe." 2
There can be little doubt that the banker in question was J.P. (NASDAQ:JACK) Morgan, Jr. It was Jack who was imbued with English tradition from the earliest age, whose financial empire had its roots in London, whose family business was saved by the Bank of England, who spent six months out of every year of his later life as a resident of England, who had openly insisted that his junior partners demonstrate a "loyalty to Britain,"3 and who had directed the Council on Foreign Relations, the American branch of a secret society dedicated to the supremacy of British tradition and political power
- When an item is in demand, its price goes up. In the case of bonds and other interest-bearing debt instruments, the price is expressed in reverse of its interest yield. The higher the price, the lower the interest. In other words, the higher the price, the more one has to pay to obtain the same dollar return in interest. Therefore, when the Fed creates an artificial demand for bonds or commercial paper, such as acceptances, the interest yield on these items goes down, which makes them more costly as an investment.
- "The Failure of the Federal Reserve," by H. Parker Willis, The North American Review, May, 1929, p. 553.
- Chernow, p. 167.
It is only with that background that one can fully appreciate the willingness to sacrifice American interests. Indeed, "it is the price we must pay for helping Europe."
In spite of the growing signs of crisis in the American economy, Morgan's protégé, Benjamin Strong, was nonetheless pleased with his accomplishment. In a letter written in 1929 to Parker Gilbert, who was the American Agent for Reparations, he said:
Our policy of the last four years, up to this January, has been effective in accomplishing the purpose for which it was designed. It has enabled monetary reorganization to be completed in Europe, which otherwise would have been impossible. It was undertaken with the well recognized hazard that we were liable to encounter a big speculation and some expansion of credit.... Our course was perfectly obvious. We had to undertake it. The conditions permitted it, and the possibility of damage abroad was at a minimum.
Damage abroad? What about damage at home? It is clear that Strong saw little difference between the two. He was the forerunner of the internationalists who have operated the Federal Reserve ever since. He viewed the United States as but one piece in a complex world financial structure, and what was good for the world was good for America. And, oh yes, what was good for England was good for the world!
THE BRITISH AMERICAN UNION
It is one of the least understood realities of modern history that many of America's most prominent political and financial figures- then as now-have been willing to sacrifice the best interests of the United States in order to further their goal of creating a one-world government. The strategy has remained unchanged since the formation of Cecil Rhodes' society and its offspring, the Round Table Groups. It is to merge the English-speaking nations into a single political entity, while at the same time creating similar groupings for other geopolitical regions. After this is accomplished, all of these groupings are to be amalgamated into a global government, the so-called Parliament of Man. And guess who is planning to control that government from behind the scenes.
This strategy was expressed aptly by Andrew Carnegie in his book, Triumphant Democracy. Expressing concern that England was in decline as a world power, he said:
1. Chandler, p. 458. For additional clarification, also see pp. 459-63.
Reunion with her American children is the only sure way to prevent continued decline.... Whatever obstructs reunion I oppose; whatever promotes reunion I favor. I judge all political questions from this standpoint....
The Parliament of Man and the Federation of the World have already been hailed by the poet, and these mean a step much farther in advance of the proposed reunion of Britain and America.... I say that as surely as the sun in the heavens once shone upon Britain and America united, so surely is it one morning to rise, shine upon, and greet again the reunited state, "The British-American Union." 1
After the Civil War, America experienced a series of expansions and contractions of the money supply leading directly to economic booms and busts. This was the result of the creation of fiat money by a banking system which, far from being free and competitive, was a half-way house to central banking. Throughout the chaos, one banking firm, the House of Morgan, was able to prosper out of the failure of others. Morgan had close ties with the financial structure and culture of England and was, in fact, more British than American. Events suggest the possibility that Morgan and Company was in concealed partnership with the House of Rothschild throughout most of this period.
Benjamin Strong was a Morgan man and was appointed as the first Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which rapidly assumed dominance over the System. Strong immediately entered into close alliance with Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, to save the English economy from depression. This was accomplished by deliberately creating inflation in the U.S. which caused an outflow of gold, a loss of foreign markets, unemployment, and speculation in the stock market, all of which were factors that propelled America into the crash of 1929 and the great depression of the 30s.
Although not covered in this chapter, it must be remembered that the same forces were responsible for American involvement in both world wars to provide the economic and military resources England needed to survive. Furthermore, the key players in this action
1. Andrew Carnegie, Triumphant Democracy (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893), pp. 530-49. This is a revised edition of the book which was originally written in 1886. Earlier editions do not contain these words.
were men who were part of the network of a secret society
established by Cecil Rhodes for the expansion of the British empire.
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