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.
nations, a stance that would become eminently clear during the Iran hostage situation in 1979. Arguably Eisenhower’s major foreign policy crisis, the Suez crisis pitted the United States against its traditional allies, Britain and France. Eisenhower’s public condemnation of the invasion further drove a wedge between the new and the old superpowers. After the crisis subsided, Aldrich was “completely fed up at Dulles.”55 He wanted to return home, but Eisenhower demanded he remain in Britain until
economic conditions than the Shah’s location, though, was the fact that OPEC had decided to raise the price of market crude by 9 percent, to $14.54 per barrel. The increase added a staggering $12 billion to world oil import bills.21 It wreaked further havoc on the non-oil-producing countries, especially within the third world, where the costs of debt and commodities were rising perilously at the same time. It also weakened the US economy further—which put its banks at risk. But despite this
right-hand men, Richard Breeden, who had drafted his task group’s Blueprint for Reform, as assistant for issues analysis and later as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Breeden proceeded to advocate deregulation from the entity established to protect the public from an overly reckless banking industry.53 Bush’s choice for Federal Reserve chairman was clear. He received a deluge of mail on the topic of reappointing Alan Greenspan—from average citizens and businessmen alike, with
relative to the bankers in the way that Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had. As such, financiers stepped in to enhance their power, primarily by expanding on the influence they already had but also by doing what they wanted to do without any Washington-imposed restrictions. President Warren G. Harding was an uninspiring politician who saw his job as calming a nation, balancing a postwar budget, and leaving bankers and businessmen alone. President Calvin Coolidge represented more of the same,
in Washington and on Wall Street was over the particular part of the bill known as Title II, which centralized control of the Federal Reserve system in Washington. It was something Wilson had not been able to do when the Federal Reserve was first established. FDR would accomplish it—for a while, anyway. Morgan Guaranty’s William Potter publicly decried the act, stating it would make inflation “more inviting, more dangerous and more imminent.”38 Testifying in the Senate, even Aldrich said it would