High Finance
19 Pages
English
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High Finance

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19 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of High Finance, by Otto H. Kahn This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: High Finance Author: Otto H. Kahn Release Date: June 27, 2009 [EBook #29256] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HIGH FINANCE *** *
Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)
H I G H  F
O TTO H. K AHN
A DDRESS D ELIVERED  AT A NNUAL D INNER  A MERICAN N EWSPAPER P UBLISHERS A SSOCIATION  A PRIL 27, 1916, W ALDORF -A STORIA , N EW Y ORK
HIGH FINANCE
I N A N C E
I
H E term h "haute T finance," "whhiigchh  fiinn aFnrcaen"c ed earisv eesl sietsw hoerirgei ni n frEoumr otphee  dFerseingcnates the most eminently respectable, the most unqualifiedly trustworthy amongst financial houses. Why has that term, in becoming acclimated in this country, gradually come to suggest a rather different meaning? Why does there exist in the United States, alone amongst the great nations, a widespread attitude of suspicion, indeed in many quarters, of virtual hostility, toward the financial community and especially toward the financial activities which focus in New York, the country's financial capital? There are a number of causes and for some of them finance cannot be absolved from responsibility. But the primary underlying and continuing cause is lack of clear appreciation of what finance means and stands for and is needed for. And from this there has sprung a veritable host of misconceptions, prejudices, superstitions and catch-phrases. Never was it of more importance than in the present emergency that the people should have a clear and correct understanding of the meaning and significance of finance, indeed of "high finance," and that they should approach the subject calmly and dispassionately and with untroubled vision, for when the European war is over and the period of reconstruction sets in, one of the most vital questions of the day will be that of finance and financing. The handling and adjustment of that question, although it primarily concerns Europe, cannot fail to affect America favorably or unfavorably, according to the wisdom or lack of wisdom of our own attitude and actions. A great many things are being and have been charged in the popular view against finance, with which finance, properly understood, has nothing to do. The possession of wealth does not make a man a financier—just as little as the possession of a chest of tools makes a man a carpenter. Finance does not mean speculation—although speculation when it does not degenerate into mere gambling has a proper and legitimate place in the scheme of things economic. Finance most emphatically does not mean fleecing the public, nor fattening parasitically off the industry and commerce of the country. Finance cannot ro erl be held res onsible for the ex loits, ood, bad
or indifferent, of the man who, having made money at manufacturing, or mining, or in other commercial pursuits, blows into town, either physically or by telephone or telegraph, and goes on a financial spree, more or less prolonged. Finance means constructive work. It means mobilizing and organizing the wealth of the country so that the scattered monetary resources of the individuals may be united and guided into a mighty current of fruitful co-operation—a hundredfold, nay ten-thousandfold as potent as they would or could be in individual hands. Finance means promoting and facilitating the country's trade at home and abroad, creating new wealth, making new jobs for workmen. It means continuous study of the conditions prevailing throughout the world. It means daring and imagination combined with care and foresight and integrity, and hard, wearing work—much of it not compensated, because of every ten propositions submitted to the scrutiny or evolved by the brain of the financier who is duly careful of his reputation and conscious of his responsibility to the public, it is safe to say that not more than three materialize. For the financial offspring of which he acknowledges parentage, or merely godfathership, he is held responsible by the public for better or for worse, and will continue to be held responsible notwithstanding certain ill-advised provisions of the recently enacted Clayton Anti-Trust Act which are bound to make it more difficult for him to discharge that responsibility. Amongst other functions and duties, it is "up to him" to look ahead, so that such offspring may always be provided with nouriture, i.e. , with funds to conduct their business. If for one reason or another they find themselves short of means in difficult times, it is his task and care to find ways and means to obtain what is needed, sometimes at great financial risk to himself. It is perhaps significant that almost all the railroad companies now in receivers' hands were among those for whose financial policy no one amongst the leading banking houses had a continuous and recognized responsibility, though I must not be understood as meaning to suggest that there were not other contributory causes for such receivership, involving responsibility and blame, amongst others, also on members of the banking fraternity.
II
Without going into shades of encyclopedic meaning, I would define, for the purpose of this discussion, a financier as a man who has some reco nized relation and res onsibilit toward the lar er monetar affairs
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