Visionary Capitalism: Financial Markets and the American Dream in the Twentieth Century

Visionary Capitalism: Financial Markets and the American Dream in the Twentieth Century

Visionary Capitalism: Financial Markets and the American Dream in the Twentieth Century

Visionary Capitalism: Financial Markets and the American Dream in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

This is the first financial history of the United States in the 20th century from the commercial and investment banking perspective. Arguing that the ideal of an American Dream finds its best tangible expression in the ways in which the financial markets have been used to foster and protect the ideals of quality housing, higher education, and agricultural production, the author analyzes the successes and failures of the markets in producing a high standard of living and well-being over the past 70 years.

Excerpt

The idea of an American dream has been one of the most compelling notions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Embodied in the dream are the visions of political freedom, home ownership, the accumulation of wealth, and the freedom from want. This combination of political and economic ideals was the magnet that drew millions of immigrants during the nineteenth century. Although sometimes dominated by economic aspiration, at its very center is the political ideal. the American experiment has evolved over the years as a process through which economic ideals are protected and nourished by a form of government that both shares and recognizes the economic dream as essential to stability and growth.

In order to arrive at the more material aspects, government has to share in the same dream and not stand in its way. By encouraging an atmosphere of industriousness and growth, the U.S. government usually has allowed the marketplace a remarkably free reign. Pragmatically, the ideal atmosphere can be best summed up in the words of Thoreau: that government is best which governs least. But in American political history, that idealistic stance has not always been possible. the realistic side of American history has seen governments play a strong, central role in defining and fashioning this persistent dream, especially when political and economic factors become too overwhelming for the marketplace.

The financial markets have played a central role in helping to shape and define the American dream over the decades. Naturally, their role has been confined to the material side rather than the political but their own development has had strong political implications. the markets could not have developed without governmental influence, sometimes loose while at other . . .

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