Economics/Class Relations

Wall Street and FDR

Given that “progressives” are once again a rising force in US politics, it’s a good idea to revisit the work of Antony Sutton and his critique of FDR. Bernie Sanders is really just a recycled Rooseveltian, and I’ve even heard a lot of commentators I like (Jimmie Dore, Kim Iversen, Caleb Maupin) calling for a new Roosevelt in this time of Great Depression-era class divisions and, with the present crisis, a possible Great Depression Two. FDR was not a hero who saved the working class from the Depression. He was a tool of the banksters who saved the ruling class from the working class.

Available from Goodreads.


Franklin D. Roosevelt is frequently described as one of the greatest presidents in American history, remembered for his leadership during the Great Depression and Second World War. Antony Sutton challenges this received wisdom, presenting a controversial but convincing analysis. Based on an extensive study of original documents, he concludes that: * FDR was an elitist who influenced public policy in order to benefit special interests, including his own. * FDR and his Wall Street colleagues were ‘corporate socialists’, who believed in making society work for their own benefit. * FDR believed in business but not free market economics. Sutton describes the genesis of ‘corporate socialism’ – acquiring monopolies by means of political influence – which he characterises as ‘making society work for the few’. He traces the historical links of the Delano and Roosevelt families to Wall Street, as well as FDR’s own political networks developed during his early career as a financial speculator and bond dealer. The New Deal almost destroyed free enterprise in America, but didn’t adversely affect FDR’s circle of old friends ensconced in select financial institutions and federal regulatory agencies. Together with their corporate allies, this elite group profited from the decrees and programmes generated by their old pal in the White House, whilst thousands of small businesses suffered and millions were unemployed. Wall Street and FDR is much more than a fascinating historical and political study. Many contemporary parallels can be drawn to Sutton’s powerful presentation given the recent banking crises and worldwide governments’ bolstering of private institutions via the public purse.

Categories: Economics/Class Relations

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  1. Google search for ‘cole ohanian great depression’. Two professors who did an economic study of the 1930’s depression, and found that “The New Deal” delayed the recovery by about 7 years.
    [partial quote follows]

    “Jessica Wolf | June 6, 2016
    One of the most-read UCLA Newsroom stories for more than a decade is a 12-year-old study by two UCLA economists.

    Despite the frenetic pace of news today, the study by UCLA economics professor Lee Ohanian and Harold Cole, now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, continues to draw attention across the political spectrum.

    In 2004, Ohanian and Cole opened a Pandora’s box when they released a painstakingly researched study that revealed how some of the policies of venerated President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually lengthened the Great Depression by an estimated seven years.

    Their research cast a negative light on the historically vaunted Depression-era policies of the FDR administration and caused a furor at the time of the study’s release.

    After a period of excitement triggered by the initial release, interest in the story waned. It started to build again around 2008, thanks to links by conservative blogs and Reddit groups when President Barack Obama took office amid the Great Recession.

    • A powerful case can be made that the impact of FDR’s policies did indeed prolong the Depression. But I don’t really think that ending the Depression per se was the objective of the Roosevelt administration. The main purpose was the same as the bailout of 2008 and the stimulus that’s going on right now, i.e. to bail out the ruling class/power elite. However, the Roosevelt administration also used the New Deal to buy off and pacify influential unions by creating a new cartelized economy in which unions would play a part along with corporations and the government, the so-called “vital center” that defined the postwar era and that liberals and neocons alike think was supposedly so wonderful. Another purpose of the New Deal was to deflect support for fringe extremist movements that existed in the US at the time. The CPUSA had over a million members (which would be more like 3 million with today’s population), and there were fascist-like figures on the far-right that had large followings as well: Father Coughlin, Francis Townsend, and some others. The US ruling class wanted to bail itself out, co-opt the labor movement, and avoid a revolution by extremists like Russia, Italy, and Germany had experienced.

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