Of all the alphabetical agencies set up during the Great Depression, none had a bigger job than the Reconstruction Finance Corp. Created under President Hoover, it lent billions of dollars to shore up shaky banks, railroads and other key institutions. Its Depression-fighting mission accomplished, RFC lived on in World War II as the Government's most powerful and versatile financial weapon. When it became obvious that Japanese aggression would cut off the U.S. from Malayan natural-rubber supplies, RFC set up and operated the nation's huge synthetic-rubber program. It organized stockpiling of strategic materials and pre-emptive buying to keep them out...

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