A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXV
"The Queen in the Parlor Eating Bread and Honey"

BUT even the Chief Justice, would-be keeper of the President's judicial conscience, with all his amiable optimism, was beginning to feel uneasy. In a Christmas letter in the middle twenties he wrote to his son, Robert, that he was afraid that we would be led into folly, counting on the continuance of good times. But later in the same letter he cheered up and expressed reassurance at having "Calvin at the head of the state with his frugal and careful economies derived from Vermont and Massachusetts."

In Coolidge's elective term, another inscrutable phenomenon began to appear in the business world. When a business man engaged in any commercial activity desired to borrow money, he began to find it easier to sell stock in his enterprise than to go to the note window of the bank. That was a new thing in the American business world, at least new in the American business world of the twentieth century. "Business," writes Edward Eyre Hunt, in his chapter on Credits and Money Movements in "An Audit of America" drawn from the "Recent Economic Changes in the United States,""has been financed less by borrowing from banks and more by borrowing in the capital market through security issues. Industrial requirements for bank loans also have been lessened by the prevailing custom of reducing inventories." This development, the substitution of securities issues for borrowings at commercial banks, really was a natural response to the immense flood of cheap money created by Federal Reserve policy and inflowing gold.1

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1
The year 1923 saw little if any bank expansion and the volume of new securities issues publicly placed was 4 billions, 300 millions. In 1927 bank credit expanded something over $3,000,000,000 and the volume of new securities issues was 7 billions, 791 millions. It is interesting to contrast the one year during which there was no bank expansion and the years of bank expansion with respect to the growth of commercial

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