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

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Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, and Benjamin Strong, as Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, played a critical role in the formulation of American monetary policy during the 1920s. Yet little attention has been given to the relationship between them—at first cooperative, then increasingly one of conflict and factionalism—or to the impact of that relationship on policy formulation. This book sheds new light on their roles in policy making and relates those roles to larger conflicts over where policy should be made, how the Federal Reserve System should be structured, and the balance that should be struck between international, national, and regional considerations.

Focusing on the Hoover-Strong relationship from a political rather than a purely economic perspective, the book's scope includes both domestic and international aspects of Federal Reserve policy formulation. New sources have enabled the author to provide both fresh details and a broader interpretation. Elaborating on the belief that the Depression resulted from policies developed during the autumn of 1927, the author contends that the foundation for those policies was laid with America's decision to underwrite the Dawes plan, the decision to underwrite England's return to the gold standard, and the involvement in European monetary stabilization—all issues over which Hoover and Strong disagreed.

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Editorial Reviews

With the Federal Reserve System currently getting accolades for sustained economic growth, Wueschner (history, William Penn College) provides context for its institutional evolution. Countering views of the 1920s as an insignificant period for the monetary system begun in 1913, the author regards this as a seminal decade in the struggles over the role of the "Fed." He highlights the collaboration between Secretary of Commerce Hoover and Strong, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Appends a glossary of individuals who contributed to that era's monetary policy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

SILVANO A. WUESCHNER is Assistant Professor of History at William Penn College.

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Table of Contents

1 The Emergence of Factions: Differing Views on the Roles for the Federal Reserve System 1
2 The Clash of Factions, 1921-1924 23
3 Foreign Developments: The Move to Stabilize 51
4 The Elusive Demon: Speculation 75
5 Stabilization: From Wall Street to Congress 103
6 Easy Money 129
7 Conclusion 155
Glossary 163
Bibliography 167
Index 173
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2001

    Limited Usefulness

    This book has little new information on monetary policy. The writing style is obscure and hard to follow. I was disappointed at the shallowness of the analysis.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2001

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

    This book takes what could be a serious theme, monetary policy during the early years of the Fed, and focuses on Benjamin Strong and Herbert Hoover and their interactions in a manner which is ahistorical and also without an economic framework in which to understand monetary policy--which is after all the presumed point of the study. The book is poor history in that neither Strong nor Hoover are identified within the philosophical and intellectual traditions from which their ideas about monetary policy were formulated. In paragraph after paragraph, the author skips from person to person, situation to situation, policy to policy without ever explaining enough about the individuals involved for the reader to get a grounding in the historical setting. As for the economic perspective on monetary policy, it is totally missing, as is any real analysis of facts and figures from a monetary perspective. The style of writing is not smooth-flowing and is unacceptable for a book on such an important topic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2001

    disorganized playing at scholarship

    This book is not well-integrated into a whole. The grammatical usage is sloppy and sounds ill-educated. Factual information is available elsewhere in a much more usable and coherent format.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Worthy Addition to Monetary Policy History

    Wueschner's work is a carefully written study of the evolution of monetary policy in the United States in the early twentieth century, a time when the Federal Reserve System was struggling to create an identity and gain freedom from the treasury. The book has been widely reviewed in the academic journals. Some reviews have been negative but most have been positive and some very much so. Because Wueschner has included new information not provided by previous writers his work has already attracted the attention of researchers. A recent article published by the Fed draws on the Wueschner book. There is nothing weak or wanting about this work. It stands on its merits and will join the permanent literature on the history of U.S. monetary policy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2001

    computer driven

    This book is too condensed in a way in which computer driven gathering of info tends to characterize so-called new studies. It does not reflect sound analysis beyond computer collected somewhat disjointed info. It needs the perspective of having mentally digested and understood complex monetary and economic policies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2001

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

    Unfortunately, this book deals with an important subject in a manner which scatters facts all around with catching any into a coherent framework. The approach of dealing with only a few 'main characters' obscures the total perspective.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    Unfair to Herbert Hoover

    This book pretends to deal with Hoover's ideas about monetary policy without respecting the sophisticated economic model in which Hoover, quite self-consciously, formulated policy. The reader is left with an impression that Hoover was a simple-minded political hack, rather than a rational engineer who engineered monetary policy. Also, the book is poorly written and difficult to wade through.

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