Friday, February 25, 2011

Anti-financial populism

My latest at Research magazine: "Furious at Finance," on the long history of populist hostility to the financial sector. Excerpt:
The founders of the United States were sharply divided in their attitudes toward finance. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton famously disagreed over the latter’s initiative to create a central bank. Moreover, the agrarian-minded Jefferson distrusted banks in general and disliked the “new created paper fortunes” arising in the cities as Hamilton’s reforms promoted trading of Treasuries and equities.

Such differences helped give rise to political parties, with Hamilton’s Federalists (often seen as precursors to later Republicans) being much more pro-finance than Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans (later shortened to Democrats). However, even on the Federalist side, there were skeptics of finance, such as John Adams, who disparaged those who “moved money around” rather than doing real work.
 Others discussed include William Jennings Bryan, Father Coughlin, Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul.

UPDATE: I'm slated to discuss this article on the Gabe Wisdom Show on Tues., March 1 at 7pm ET.

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