Historical Echoes: Money and the Art of War
New York Fed Research Library
An article written in March 1907 (on the cusp of a financial panic, and before the creation of the Federal Reserve) poses the question, “Is there money enough.” The author, F. A. Vanderlip, President of National City Bank (later Citibank), observes that a banking system without a central bank is prone to disorderly “retreats or advances,” with every banker acting for himself and none for the greater good:
“Many Europeans tell us that we are barbarously wasteful of money under our current banking system. They say that with our system of twenty thousand unregulated organizations, we are like a nation going to war with an army that has no centralized authority, with an army where each man is fighting as he independently thinks best; with no one to give general orders for retreat or advance….With us in any time of stress, each bank looks only to its own position, and reaches for reserves for its own vault, at no matter what cost to the whole system.”In 1910, Vanderlip would take his views and memories of the “bankers’ panic” of 1907 to Jekyll Island, Georgia, to participate in the meeting that would lead to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author(s).