BANKSTERS, BOSSES, and SMART MONEY: SOCIAL HISTORY OF the GREAT TOLEDO BANK CRASH of 1931

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9780814209776: BANKSTERS, BOSSES, and SMART MONEY: SOCIAL HISTORY OF the GREAT TOLEDO BANK CRASH of 1931
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In the 1920s, Toledo, Ohio, led the nation in manufacturing job growth. In the summer of 1931, Toledo suffered the worst banking crash of the Great Depression. Soon afterward, a greater percentage of the people in Toledo survived on federal relief than in any other American city. What caused one of America's most dynamic industrial cities to fall so far, so fast? Banksters, Bosses, and Smart Money uncovers the causes of one city's economic collapse by tracing the interlocking directorships, political machines, and insider deals that made quick fortunes for the well-connected while jeopardizing the savings of tens of thousands of depositors. It documents how the power of the city's financial elites continued even after the calamitous bank crash of 1931, skewing the liquidation of insolvent banks in their favor and shielding those responsible from criminal prosecution. By examining the social and political roots of the banking crisis in one community, Messer-Kruse demonstrates that the Great Depression cannot be understood only as an external force that crashed over communities, but also as a consequence of local power relations and financial decisions. Toledo's example suggests that the Great Depression was made locally and spread globally, not the other way around.

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About the Author:

Timothy Messer-Kruse is associate professor of labor history and chair of the department of history, University of Toledo.

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"Banksters, Bosses, and Smart Money will take a place beside a select set of other works in the field, which describe regional idiosyncrasies before and during the Great Depression. Messer-Kruse adds to a growing body of microeconomic and historical literature suggesting that many bank failures of the period were justified, running counter to widely held notions of contagions of fear that felled numerous sound banks, resulting in significant losses of worth-while lending information and economic capital."

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