The Money Makers

The Money Makers

How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace

Eric Rauchway

Basic Books, New York, 2015, 336 pages

Book Review published on: March 17, 2017

In the book The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace, Eric Rauchway tells the dynamic and resolute story of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to take the United States off of the gold standard shortly after assuming the presidency in 1933 and replacing it with the our current monetary policy.

Out of the numerous contributions Roosevelt achieved during his presidency, Rauchway makes a compelling argument in The Money Makers that restoring the economic moral strength and monetary policy of the United States was by far his greatest achievement. The extraordinary characters written in this book helping Roosevelt achieve economic prosperity for the country and world during the Second World War are John Maynard Keynes, Henry Morgenthau Jr., Harry Dexter White, and Cordell Hull. By creating sound economic conditions for recovery, Roosevelt gave back to the American people confidence in the U.S. dollar.

Additional highlights of The Money Makers include an in-depth analysis on the Bretton Woods Conference, the historical narrative on why the United States choose the gold standard monetary policy and why it was a poor choice, the economic effects the 1919 Paris Peace Conference unintentionally had on the world, and the impact John Maynard Keynes’s economic philosophy has had throughout the world. Roosevelt took an enormous risk changing the monetary policy of the United States, but Rauchway does a superb job within this book explaining why the gold standard was never an effective monetary policy to serve America’s diverse needs.

Rauchway is a history professor at the University of California, Davis and is the author of numerous monetary publications such as American Prospect, Financial Times, and Times Literary Supplement. In The Money Makers, he uses an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, including the minutes from the Bretton Woods Conference, numerous journal entries and memorandums from representatives inside Roosevelt’s cabinet, and statistical monetary analysis from the great depression through the early part of the Cold War.

For members of the security community interested in the fiscal lessons learned during the great depression, as well as those interested in how the U.S. Treasury Department funded our war-winning strategy in the Second World War and enabled the fiscal resources to reconstruct Europe and win the Cold War, this book is a must read. With today’s economic headlines featuring stories on faltering markets and nations not being able to pay their debt, Rauchway’s book is an excellent source to examine successful solutions at solving some of these economic problems.

Book Review written by: Maj. Matthew Prescott, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas