A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
Cosmic Scene Shifters Sweat at Their Work

IF THE President seemed to be oblivious to business, he certainly did not close the White House doors to business men. Bankers, financiers, industrial entrepreneurs, the wizards of Wall Street, so long as their wizardry was not advertised as unethical, came and were cordially, if circumspectly, received at the White House. They brought their women who were charmed with Mrs. Coolidge. The men were invited into the Lincoln study after lunch or dinner. There they met a new man--the loquacious Coolidge. When the President had decided to release speculative credit, he talked freely of his plans. His friends in Wall Street and in Boston knew rather definitely that the lid was off; that the Federal Reserve Bank in New York would permit speculative loans of a certain rather conservative pattern. The purr of the gold making machine grinding out credits, by creating debt, pleased him. Apparently his advisors from Wall Street had persuaded him that depressions, like the two minor depressions that had come with the credit deflation during the first three or four years after the war could and should be avoided.

Of course, what the Reserve Bank did (one needs no inside information to verify this) was to buy several hundred million dollars' worth of government securities. The effect of this, combined with the incoming gold, was to make money rates drop. Then, as merchants had no use for additional funds, the funds began to flow into (a) collateral loans against stocks and bonds, (b) bank investments in bonds, (c) installment finance paper, (d) real estate mortgage loans in banks. Simultaneously, the Dawes Plan restored confidence in Europe.1 The year 1924 showed a jump in foreign loans made by the United States of from around three hundred millions in

____________________
1
See Dawes letter.

-289-

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