Charting Twentieth-Century Monetary Policy: Herbert Hoover and Benjamin Strong, 1917-1927

By Silvano A. Wueschner | Go to book overview

Introduction

Federal Reserve Board decisions and pronouncements were read by very few. Bank officers who would be obliged to conform to them. Among businessmen, a small proportion who were aware that Federal Reserve Board actions would affect business, in some cases powerfully. A few scholars in monetary theory and economics. Of reading by the general public, there was almost literally none.

Mark Sullivan1

The focus of this work is on American monetary policy formulation during the 1920s and how this was affected by Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce and Benjamin Strong as Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( FRBNY). The aim is both to shed new light on their roles in policy making and to relate these roles to larger conflicts over where policy should be made, how the Federal Reserve System should be structured and used, and what balance should be struck between international, national, and regional considerations.

In exploring these subjects the study also examines the roles played by the colleagues and professional acquaintances who comprised the frequently adversarial factions led by Strong and directed by Hoover. In these clashes Strong usually played a tough and, for the most part, open leadership role, while Hoover chose to exercise his influence behind the scenes. Too often he was reluctant to engage in public debates regarding government policy and at times opted to engage the opposition through carefully selected proxies.

The Hoover and Strong collaboration began in 1918 when Herbert Hoover sought the Federal Reserve System's assistance in dealing with the Cuban Sugar

____________________
1
Mark Sullivan. Unpublished Manuscript, in Mark Sullivan File, Post Presidential Individual (hereafter PPI), Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (hereafter HHPL).

-xiii-

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