Money, Power, and the People: The American Struggle to Make Banking Democratic

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

Banks and bankers are hardly the most beloved institutions and people in this country. With its corruptive influence on politics and stranglehold on the American economy, Wall Street is held in high regard by few outside the financial sector. But the pitchforks raised against this behemoth are largely rhetorical: we rarely see riots in the streets or public demands for an equitable and democratic banking system that result in serious national changes.

Yet the situation was vastly different a century ago, as Christopher W. Shaw shows. This book upends the conventional thinking that financial policy in the early twentieth century was set primarily by the needs and demands of bankers. Shaw shows that banking and politics were directly shaped by the literal and symbolic investments of the grassroots. This engagement remade financial institutions and the national economy, through populist pressure and the establishment of federal regulatory programs and agencies like the Farm Credit System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Shaw reveals the surprising groundswell behind seemingly arcane legislation, as well as the power of the people to demand serious political repercussions for the banks that caused the Great Depression. One result of this sustained interest and pressure was legislation and regulation that brought on a long period of relative financial stability, with a reduced frequency of economic booms and busts. Ironically, this stability led to the decline of the very banking politics that brought it about.

Giving voice to a broad swath of American figures, including workers, farmers, politicians, and bankers alike, Money, Power, and the People recasts our understanding of what might be possible in balancing the needs of the people with those of their financial institutions.
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About the author

Christopher W. Shaw received a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Sep 5, 2019
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780226636474
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Banks & Banking
History / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / Political Economy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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