Money Of The Mind Essay

1923 words - 8 pages

The 1980s were just the beginning of a continuous bull market, creating wide-open access to credit. In the year 1987, David Herrlinger placed a bid to buy Dayton-Hudson Corp., though he was $6.7 million short of the purchase price. The market spread the news of his bid without an investigation on whether or not the payment of the purchase price was even realistic. In the same year, a pair of Texas oilmen, called “Desert Partners, LLP”, attempted a hostile takeover of U.S. Gypsum. U.S. Gypsum sold junk bonds at rates that Desert Partners could not compete with; Desert Partners, LLP eventually dropped the proxy war leaving U.S. Gypsum (USG) in a pile of debt. As companies dealt with debt financing, recapitalization often would occurred, often resulting in the same effects as a takeover would have done, as seen by the outcome of U.S. Gypsum’s finances. The banking system so quickly transferred from an uncertain bear market in the early 1900s to an over-confident bull market in the late 1900s. In 1928, Sewell Avery became president of U.S. Gypsum. Avery was referred to as the “Gloomy Sewell” due to his conservative banking style (as well as bearish approach) as he was cautious about the how he managed his company due to uncertainty economic times. At the start of the Great Depression, Montgomery, Ward Co, a struggling department store, asked to Sewell Avery to take over. Avery performed a mass movement forward for the business. After a proxy war between Avery and Wolfson, Sewell Avery retired ultimately leaving the company in “sound financial condition” (Grant 36).
Throughout Grant’s first chapter, Gloomy Sewell, Grant recognizes the consequences of bear and bull markets, each having pros and cons in the United States economy. According to Grant, “It was understood that the funds could be borrowed and that if the debtor could not afford to pay the interest on the loan, that problem too could be overcome.” The openness and availability to receive small and large loans caused the economy to become consumed with using credit. Grant describes the effects of the two types of markets seen throughout his book: “the most profitable state of mind in a bear market is doubt, but in a bull market it is faith”. Sewell Avery was a great example of a conservative banker who never dared to borrow or lend like companies such as USG in 1987. Grant’s contrast between the early 1900s conservative banking using hard cash and strict loan restrictions and the late 1900s risky banking through wide-open credit provides a basis to understand the development of credit throughout the 20th century.
Back tracking into economic history, George Fisher Baker was a man of conservatism, reputation and tradition. About 1857, Baker met John Thompson, a financial publisher and dear of bank notes, who saw great banking potential in Baker. Thompson advocated for ‘government money’, national currency to circulate the economy instead of gold. In 1863, the National Currency Act...

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