Essays & speeches
Webster G. Tarpley
BRITISH FINANCIAL WARFARE: 1929; 1931- 33
HOW THE CITY OF LONDON CREATED THE GREAT DEPRESSION
by Webster G. Tarpley
The thesis of this paper is that the great economic and financial cataclysm of the first half of the twentieth century, which we have come to know as the Great Depression, was caused by the Bank of England, the British government, and the City of London. The potential for the Great Depression derived from the economic and human destruction wrought by World War I, which was itself a product of British geopolitics and especially of the British policy, exemplified by King Edward VII, of creating an encircling anti-German alliance in order to wage war. The economic destruction of Europe was continued after 1918 by the Peace of Paris (Versailles, St. Germain, Trianon, Neuilly, Sevres) imposed by the Allies on the defeated Central Powers. Especially important here were the 55 billion gold dollars in reparations inflicted on defeated Germany, along with the war debt burden of the supposedly victorious powers themselves. Never during the 1920's did world trade surpass the levels of 1913. Reparations and war debt were a recipe for economic stagnation.
The ravaged post-war, post-Versailles world of the 1920's provides the main backdrop for the following considerations:
1. The events leading to the Great Depression are all related to British economic warfare against the rest of the world, which mainly took the form of the attempt to restore a London- centered world monetary system incorporating the gold standard. The efforts of the British oligarchy in this regard were carried out by a clique of international central bankers dominated by Lord Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, assisted by his tools Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and Hjalmar Schacht of the German Reichsbank. This British-controlled gold standard proved to be a straightjacket for world economic development, somewhat along the lines of the deflationary Maastricht "convergence criteria" of the late 1990's.
2. The New York stock exchange speculation of the Coolidge-Hoover era was not a spontaneous phenomenon, but was rather deliberately encouraged by Norman and Strong under the pretext of relieving pressure on the overvalued British pound sterling after its gold convertibility had been restored in 1925. In practice, the pro-speculation policies of the US Federal Reserve were promoted by Montagu Norman and his satellites for the express purpose of fomenting a Bubble Economy in the United States, just as later central bankers fostered a Bubble Economy in Japan after 1986. When this Wall Street Bubble had reached gargantuan proportions in the autumn of 1929, Montagu Norman sharply cut the British bank rate, repatriating British hot money, and pulling the rug out from under the Wall Street speculators, thus deliberately and consciously imploding the US markets. This caused a violent depression in the United States and some other countries, with the collapse of financial markets and the contraction of production and employment. In 1929, Norman engineered a collapse by puncturing the bubble.
3. This depression was rendered far more severe and, most importantly, permanent, by the British default on gold payment in September, 1931. This British default, including all details of its timing and modalities, and also the subsequent British gambit of competitive devaluations, were deliberate measures of economic warfare on the part of the Bank of England. British actions amounted to the deliberate destruction of the pound sterling system, which was the only world monetary system in existence at that time. The collapse of world trade became irreversible. With deliberate prompting from the British, currency blocs emerged, with the clear implication that currency blocs like the German Reichsmark and the Japanese yen would soon have to go to war to obtain the oil and other natural resources that orderly world trade could no longer provide. In 1931, Norman engineered a disintegration by detonating the gold backing of the pound sterling.
4. In the United States, the deliberate British default of September 1931 led, given the do-nothing Hoover Administration policies, directly to the banking crisis of 1932-33, which closed down or severely restricted virtually every bank in the country by the morning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration. If Roosevelt had not broken decisively with Hoover's impotent refusal to fight the depression, constitutional government might have collapsed. As it was, FDR was able to roll back the disintegration, but economic depression and mass unemployment were not overcome until 1940 and the passage of Lend-Lease.
As we have already hinted, we consider that these matters are not solely of historical interest. The repertoire of central bank intrigue, speculative bubbles, defaults, devaluations, bank rate manipulations, deflations and inflations constitute the essential arsenal being used by British economic warfare planners today.
The Maastricht "convergence criteria" with their insane deflationary thrust are very similar in effect to the rules of the gold exchange standard as administered by London, 1925-1931. For that matter, the policies of the International Monetary Fund are too. The parallel extends even to the detail of Perfidious Albion's gambit of opting out of the European Currency Union while watching its victims writhe in an deflationary straightjacket tailored between Threadneedle Street and Saville Row.
Since the summer of 1995 hot money generated by the low interest rates of the Bank of Japan has been used by hedge fund operators of the Soros school to puff up the world bubble. If the Bank of England's late 1996 switch to bank rate increases turns out to be a harbinger of world tight money, then it is possible that the collapse and disintegration of the world financial system will recapitulate other phases of the interwar years.
Lord Montagu Norman was always obsessed with secrecy, but the British financial press has often practiced an arrogant and cynical bluntness in its self-congratulatory accounts of its own exploits. Therefore, wherever possible we have let the British, especially the London Economist magazine and Lord Keynes, speak for themselves and indict themselves. We have also drawn on the memoirs of US President Herbert Hoover, who had moments of surprising lucidity even as he, for the sake of absurd free-market, laissez-faire ideology, allowed his country to drift into the abyss. As we will see, Hoover had everything he needed to base his 1932 campaign for re-election on blaming the Federal Reserve, especially its New York branch, for the 1929 calamity. Hoover could have assailed the British for their September 1931 stab in the back. Hoover would have been doing the country a permanent service, and he might have done somewhat better in the electoral college. But Hoover was not capable of seriously attacking the New York Fed and its master, Lord Montagu Norman. [more]