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The Three Most Significant Points from "The House of Morgan"

            The Three Most Significant Points from "The House of Morgan" by Ron Chernow.
             Although Ron Chernow gives an excellent insight into the immense power and influence of the House of Morgan during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the subsequent decline of that power, this was not a revelation to me, indeed anyone who has worked in the financial industry is aware of the special place that the House of Morgan occupied during this period. It was a different more subtle theme that held my interest. All three of my individual points are encompassed by this theme; the contradictory foundation on which the House of Morgan was built. The individual points are the process of granting credit, the level of support provided to its clients, and the anti-semitism of the House of Morgan.
             In modern financial institutions the granting of credit is a complex and specialized activity, for Pierpont and Jack Morgan credit was granted to a party not based on their ability to repay the loan but as Pierpont told the Pujo hearings in 1911, "(the) First thing is his character money cannot buy it Because a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom". Although Chernow does not focus on the internal credit granting process of the House of Morgan, he provides nothing that indicates that when Pierpont told the Pujo hearings "I have known a man to come into my office, and I have given them a check for $1m when I know that they had not a cent in the world" he was exaggerating. Building a financial house on such a weak credit process would be totally unacceptable in modern finance, and inevitably the House of Morgan made a number of poor investment decisions ranging from individuals such as the Van Sweringen brothers and Richard Whitney to sovereign lending with Japan, and Italy. However, what is more significant than the way credit was granted, is that the level of support granted by the House of Morgan to clients when it should have been clear that they were no longer worthy of credit or support.

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