The Wealth Of The Nation

The most influential economist in the United States talks about prudence, productivity, and the pursuit of liquidity in the light of the past

TWENTY YEARS AGO , the American economy hummed like a well-oiled machine. We actually exported automobiles and oil. Economists worried about the “dollar gap”—whether the rest of the world would have enough dollars to buy from us—and the inflation rate was one percent. The economists of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson spoke of “fine-tuning” the economy. Today the economy moves only by sputters and spurts. We have idle capacity; interest rates have been in double digits, and recently so has inflation.Read more »

The Capital Of Capitalism

Ever since 1792, bulls and bears together have tripped the light fantastic on Wall Street’s sidewalks—and sometimes just tripped

On a cold Saturday in December, 1865, the 350 members of the New York Stock Exchange gave a party to celebrate moving into a new building on Broad Street, near the corner of Wall—the first home of their own. “One of the finest temples of Mammon extant,” the New York Times observed. Visitors poured through the spacious lower hall and up the wide stairs to enjoy refreshments in the high-ceilinged, black-walnut-panelled Board Room, whose acoustics had already been tested at a brief stock auction that morning.Read more »

Faces From The Past—VI


Almost every day the strange figure, swathed in ancient black, might be seen walking down the street toward the Chemical National Bank. There she went directly to the vault, pulled out the trunks and bags that were stored for her under a staircase, and sat cross-legged on the floor rummaging through the masses of papers and documents that represented her fortune of more than fifty million dollars. Read more »

A Lion In The Street

How J. P. Morgan, like a “one-man Federal Reserve,” calmed the bankers and helped ease the Panic of 1907

On August 8, 1911, a committee of the House of Representatives was interrogating George W. Perkins, a former partner of the House of Morgan, about the control of the Morgan firm over the steel industry. Tempers matched the heat of the Washington weather as the questioning ranged over every aspect of the firm’s affairs. Time and again the witness and Chairman Augustus O. Stanley clashed—interrupting each other repeatedly, their voices rising.