When Washington Shut Down Wall Street: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 and the Origins of America’s Monetary Supremacy

Professor, author and prominent economic advisor Silber chronicles an era when the U.S.’s reliance on the gold standard was leading it head-on into its first major financial crisis. The outbreak of WWI in 1914 yielded the biggest gold outflow in a generation, jeopardizing America’s reputation with creditor nations and sending the world market value of the dollar into a tailspin. Enter Treasury Secretary William McAdoo, lawyer turned financier, who closed the New York Stock Exchange for four months, beginning on July 31, 1914. Silber follows McAdoo’s trials and tribulations as he creates the Federal Reserve and averts disaster with a clinical, well-sourced narrative, bringing to light a crisis-management plan that remains relevant today. Though his methodical approach ensures that the book is an easy-to-follow read, Silber tacitly acknowledges the material’s dryness by inserting questions throughout the text (“Did gold imports help to alleviate the crisis?”) in a weak attempt to add suspense. While pages full of facts and figures get tedious, Silber’s story communicates well the urgency and peril of this pivotal American moment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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