STATE OF BUSINESS: The Great Credit Debate

A bitter and recurring debate in U.S. history concerns the money supply. In the 1870s and '80s national elections were fought on the issue of tight v. easy money; new parties—the Populists, the Green-backers—sprang up whose primary function was to argue for a looser money supply. William Jennings Bryan, Boy Orator of the Platte, won his reputation and the Democratic presidential nomination in 1896 with a plea for easier money.

Last week there were no Bryans to argue the matter, but among U.S. bankers and businessmen, the debate raged hotly once again: Is...

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