Until the election of Woodrow Wilson the United Statesalone among developed nationslacked a central bank. Ever since the Revolutionary War, Americans had desperately feared the consequences of centralizing the nation’s finances under government control. However, in the aftermath of a disastrous financial panic, Congress was persuadedby a confluence of populist unrest, widespread mistrust of bankers, ideological divisions, and secretive lobbyingto approve the landmark 1913 Federal Reserve Act.
Writing in a rich and untapped historical vein, Roger Lowensteinacclaimed financial journalist and bestselling author of When Genius Failed and The End of Wall Streetreveals the drama-filled, unlikely story of how America created the Federal Reserve, thereby taking its first steps onto the world stage as a global financial power. America’s Bank showcases Lowenstein at his very finest: illuminating complex financial and political issues with striking clarity, infusing the debates of our past with all the gripping immediacy of today, and painting unforgettable portraits of Gilded Age bankers, presidents, and politicians.
With America’s Bank, Lowenstein focuses on the four men at the heart of the drama to create the Federal Reserve. These are Paul Warburg, a refined, German-born financier, recently relocated to New York, who was horrified at America’s primitive finances; Rhode Island’s Nelson W. Aldrich, the reigning power broker in the U.S. Senate and an archetypal Gilded Age legislator; Carter Glass, the ambitious but little-known Virginia congressman who chaired the House Banking and Currency Committee at a crucial moment of political transition; and, of course, President Woodrow Wilson, who forced Glass to reconcile his deep-seated differences with bankers en route to landmark and controversial legislation which that finally gave America a central bank.
Weaving a slice of American politics together with a storied financial collapse and intrigue at the highest levels of Washington and Wall Street, Lowenstein delivers a gripping historical narrative. America’s Bank reveals the improbable origins of the Federal Reserve in a way that will make readers wonder whether they are reading about one hundred years ago or about the still-seething conflicts that mark our discussions of banking and politics today. A powerful and intelligent story told by one of our most accomplished financial experts, America’s Bank puts readers into the cockpit at a time of financial turmoil and political transformation, bringing the beginnings of one of the country’s most crucial institutions to vivid and unforgettable life.