Monday, May 10, 2010

"Wall St" is divided from "Main Street" version 1829

President Jackson declares war on the Bank of the United States
After Jackson’s first annual message to Congress in 1829, claiming that the Bank of the United States had failed in its requirement to “establish a sound and uniform currency”, the directors of The Philadelphia Bank feared disastrous results to the banking community if the Bank of the United States was forced to wind up its affairs.
Jackson was reflecting an overal populist view which was antagonistic to banks, informing Mr. Biddle (President of the Bank of the United States since 1823); “I do not dislike your Bank any more than all banks. But ever since I read the history of the South Sea bubble, I have been afraid of banks.”

The Philadelphia National Bank (for Meeker's role in the establishment of this bank click here) is against these actions by the federal government:
“The advantages which have resulted to the country from the establishment of an institution which has aided the fiscal operations of the Government in the collection and distribution of the public funds, furnished a sound circulating medium which may be considered at par in all parts of the Union, facilitated the general operations of trade and commerce, and which has by the diffusion of its capital advanced the prosperity of the people, are so obvious to all who have witnessed its operations, as to render it unnecessary to urge them in detail upon your consideration.” p64

Threat of closure by the federal government, and the actions by Jackson of removal of the federal deposits from the Bank of the United States, caused a tightening of credit in the economy and precipitated an overall panic, and by 1833 these actions were proving ruinous to commerce. The overall ensuing recession however caused other banks to extend their loan portfolios to relieve the pressure. Despite the panic,the thirties were years of great activity in the Philadelphia money market. New organizations had come on the scene; savings banks, trust companies, and loan companies. Bank capital proved insufficient, and most institutions attempted to borrow additional 1836 the Philadelphia bank tried to borrow half a million dollars in London with the assurance that ‘the business of the Bank is increasing and its affairs are properous,’ ...p66 (This did not succeed).

Ensuing inflation & the monetary system is impaired
After the loss of the government deposits in 1833, the Bank of the United States no longer had the means of regulating credit extension by the state banks, and inflation proceeded apace. It was an ominous fact that by spring, 1834, the notes of banks situated in the surrounding communities were circulating in Philadelphia at a discount. Once again, the monetary system of the United States had been wrecked, and a uniform currency had been replaced by a medley of “bank rags.” p67

quotes are from The Philadelphia National Bank 1803-1953 by Nicholas B. Wainwright, Wm F. Fell Co, Philadelphia 1953

..."In 1823, the Biddles were prosperous, having made money in real estate (a Biddle ancestor had been a member of the Proprietors), and influential, having been Free Quakers who sided with the Revolution. So, Nicholas Biddle became the president of the Second [US] Bank at 4th and Chestnut. Like all banks, he was given the ability to create money through taking deposits and loaning them out. Since in this process, two people (the depositor and the borrower) think they have the same money, there is effectively twice as much of it -- unless both actually demand it at the same time. If a bank has Federal revenues on deposit, as Biddle did, it is fairly easy for a politically active banker to predict whether that large depositor is likely to withdraw it. Political deposits seemingly make a bank stronger and safer, unless the banker has a fight with a politician. That's banking, but Biddle also became a central banker.... ......"

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Timely, and as always, interesting.

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