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«COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SEVENTIETH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION ON H. R. 11806 ( Superseding H. R. 7895, Sixty-Ninth ...»

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STABILIZATION

HEARINGS

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SEVENTIETH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

ON H. R. 11806 ( Superseding H. R. 7895, Sixty-Ninth Congress ) A BILL TO AMEND THE ACT APPROVED DECEMBER 23, 1913,

KNOWN AS THE FEDERAL RESERVE ACT; TO DEFINE CER-

TAIN POLICIES TOWARD WHICH THE POWERS OF THE FED-

ERAL RESERVE SYSTEM SHALL BE DIRECTED; TO FURTHER

PROMOTE THE MAINTENANCE OF A STABLE GOLD STAND-

ARD; TO PROMOTE THE STABILITY OF COMMERCE, INDUS-

TRY, AGRICULTURE, AND EMPLOYMENT; TO ASSIST

IN REALIZING A MORE STABLE PURCHASING

POWER OF THE DOLLAR; AND FOR

OTHER PURPOSES

MARCH 19, 20, 21; APRIL 30; MAY 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 15 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 28, 29, 1928

(INDEX AT END OF VOLUME)

UNITED STATES

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON

15020 1928 Digitized for FRASER http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/ Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SEVENTIETH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION

LOUIS T. MCFADDEN, Pennsylvania, Chairman.

EDWARD J. RING, Illinois. OTIS WINGO, Arkansas.

JAMES G. STRONG, Kansas. HENRY B. STEAGALL, Alabama.

ROBERT LUCE, Massachusetts. CHARLES H. BRAND, Georgia.

CLARENCE MACGREGOR, New York. WILLIAM F. STEVENSON, South Carolina.

E HART FENN, Connecticut. EUGENE BLACK, Texas.

GUY E. CAMPBELL, Pennsylvania. T. ALAN GOLDSBOROUGH, Maryland.

ELMER O. LEATHERWOOD, Utah. ANNING S. PRALL, New York.

CARROLL L. BEEDY. Maine. HARRY C. CANFIELD, Indiana.

JOSEPH L. HOOPER, Michigan.

JOHN C. ALLEN, Illinois.

GODFREY G. GOODWIN, Minnesota.

F. D. LETTS, Iowa.

PHILIP G. THOMPSON, Clerk.

II Digitized for FRASER http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/ Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

CONTENTS

Page The Strong bill______________________________________________________ 1 Proposed amendments________________________________________ 6, 384, 434 Questionnaire____________________________________________________ 5,11 (See also Index, title Strong bill.) Representative James G. Strong_______________________________ 3-11, 444-446 Owen D. Young, of Federal Reserve Bank of New York City_____________ 2 Roy A. Young, governor of Federal Reserve Board______________________ 11, 62, 65, 93, 99, 237, 410-422 Benjamin Strong, governor Federal Reserve Bank of New York City___________________________________________________________ 12-21,386 E. A. Goldenweiser, director of research and statistics, Federal reserve Board_______________________ 22-55, 60, 81, 85, 86, 87, 88, 101, 283-297, 298-311 Prof. John R. Commons, Wisconsin University_________ 5,56-104,423-444,445 Dr. Adolph C. Miller, vice governor Federal Reserve Board__________ 105-129, 160-193, 211-366 Prof. O. M. W. Sprague_____________________________________________ 130-159 Henry A. Wallace, editor Wallace's Farmer, president Stable Money League __________________________________________________________ 193-201 Andrew Shearer, vice president Kansas State Farm Bureau and representing Farmers' Union of Kansas, and Kansas Grange____________ 201-210 Prof. Gustav Cassel, of Sweden_______________________________ 366-384,434 E. H. Cunningham, member of Federal Reserve Board________________ 385 Charles S. Hamlin, member of Federal Reserve Board_______________ 389-408 W. C. Hushing, legislative representative of the American Federation of Labor_________________________________________________________ 409-410 Edmund Platt, member of Federal Reserve Board______________________ 422 III Digitized for FRASER http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/ Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Digitized for FRASER http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/ Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

STABILIZATION

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY,

Monday, March 19, 1928.

The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. Louis T. McFadden (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee Will come to order.

This is a hearing on H. R. 11806, a b i l l introduced by RepresentatiVe Strong of Kansas, under date of March 6, 1928, proposing to amend the act approved December 23, 1913, known as the Federal reserve act; to define certain policies toward which the powers of the Federal reserve system shall be directed ; to promote the maintenance of a stable gold standard; to promote the stability of commerce, industry, agriculture, and employment; to assist i n realizing a more stable purchasing power of the dollar, and for other purposes.





This is really a continuance of the hearings that were consummated in the spring of 1927 on H. R. 7895.

(The bill under consideration is as follows:) A BILL To amend the act approved December 23, 1913, known as the Federal reserve act ; to define certain policies toward which the powers of the Federal reserve system shall be directed ; to further promote the maintenance of a stable gold standard ; to promote the stability of commerce, industry, agriculture, and employment; to assist in realizing a more stable purchasing power of the dollar, and for other purposes Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act approved December 23, 1913,

known as the Federal reserve act, as amended, be further amended as follows :

Add to section 14 the following paragraphs :

"(g) The term 'Federal reserve system,' as used in this act, shall mean the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal reserve banks, and all committees, commissions, agents, and others under their direction, supervision, or control.

"(h) The Federal reserve system shall use all the powers and authority now or hereafter possessed by it to maintain a stable gold standard ; to promote the stability of commerce, industry, agriculture, and employment ; and a more stable purchasing power of the dollar, so far as such purposes may be accomplished by monetary and credit policy. Relations and transactions with foreign banks shall not be inconsistent with the purposes expressed in this amendment.

" ( i ) Whenever any decision as to policies is made or whenever any action is taken by the Federal reserve system tending to affect the aforesaid purposes of this amendment, such decision or action and reasons therefor shall be thereafter published by the governor of the Federal Reserve Board at such time, place, and in such detail as may be deemed by him to be most effective in furthering such purposes, and at least once each year in the Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Board to the Congress."

SEC. 2. After section 28 add the following :

" SEC. 28A. The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal reserve banks are hereby authorized and directed to make and to continue investigations and studies for the guidance of the system's policies, at least to the extent and in the manner described in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this section, and to such further extent as they may deem to be desirable ; namely, "(1) Of the manner and extent to which operations of the Federal reserve system affect (a) the volume of credit and currency, (b) the purchasing power

–  –  –

inconvenience appear before the Committee on Banking and Currency at its hearings on the Strong bill next Week. I f this were a matter in which I had primary responsibility or had any special qualification to testify, I would not, of course, permit any question of personal convenience or business expediency to interfere with my appearance before your committee. I t seems to me, however, that I am confirmed in this by an examination of your questionnaire that the matters With which you are dealing call for cooperation from the Federal Reserve Board and the executive officers of the Federal reserve banks, who are especially informed on the questions you submit and who have the direct responsibility to aid you in every Way possible. Compared With them I would be only a very mediocre and incompetent witness.

In general I may say that I have read the bill carefully and see no specific objection to it as drawn except as hereinafter indicated. In so far as i t directly authorizes investigation and study, it makes certain the propriety of the expenditure of money for that purpose, and is, therefore, helpful.

As to your proposed paragraph h, if I understand it correctly, it expressly imposes on the system the obligation to do that Which, as a director, I have always assumed Was inferentially its duty under the existing law.

In so far as paragraph (i) is concerned, I have no objection to the object which is sought of a specific statement of reasons for any action taken, but I do not quite see how the paragraph will Work. One has to remember after all that the Federal reserve system is composed of a coordinating board at Washington, With specific limited powers granted to it under the law, and independent boards of directors acting for the individual banks.

Any action taken by the system to accomplish the purpose of paragraph (h) requires action by these independent groups, and I should think it Would be difficult for the governor of the Federal Reserve Board to do more than state the reasons which actuated his board in its action within its own field. I f the paragraph means that the Federal Reserve Board at Washington is to exercise whatever powers are necessary to accomplish paragraph (h), then you have fundamentally changed the Whole theory of the system and created a central bank with headquarters in Washington governed by the Federal Reserve Board With the boards of directors of the several banks simply as advisory groups With out duties or responsibilities except possibly in the detailed field of administration. If it be the purpose of paragraph (i) inferentially to strengthen the centralized control of the Federal Reserve Board, then I am opposed to it, because I believe in the independence of the several regional banks.

Yours very truly, OWEN D. YOUNG.

STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES G. STRONG, A REPRESENTATIVE I N

CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KANSAS

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Strong, do you care to make a preliminary statement ?

Mr.STRONG.I think I should perhaps make some statement at the opening of the hearing.

I became very much interested in the proposition of the stability Of the purchasing power Of money from the fact of the great loss that comes to the Nation at large, to all business, to all labor, to all those engaged in agriculture, in fact, to all groups of citizens of this country, by reason of the inflation or deflation i n the purchasing power of money; and after considerable study of the subject I introduced, on January 18, 1926, H. R. 7895, simply directing that all the powers of the Federal Reserve Board should be used to that end, using the Words at that time, " the promotion of the stability of the price level,'' meaning, of course, by " price level '' the average prices of commodities Which measure the value of money.

Both in an address on the floor of the House on February 20, 1926.

and at the opening and close of the hearings had upon the bill before this committee I tried to make plain that I was not seeking immediate

–  –  –

stabilization Of Our monetary unit and that would not interfere with Or injure that great System in any way.

During the summer I made a trip to the Orient, requiring 51 days On a boat. I took with me the hearings and a great many Of the letters that I had received, and tried to make a careful study Of the proposition. On my return I found that Dr. J. R. Commons, of the University of Wisconsin, who had been granted a leave of absence by his university, was willing to use that vacation, or leave Of absence, for the study of this subject, and that he was willing to come to Washington and make an intensive a study Of the subject.

I got in communication with Doctor Commons, and he expressed his willingness to come to Washington and help in every way he could.

I have had the advantage Of close association with him, and he and I have had many conferences with officials Of the Federal reserve system, and economists both inside and Outside the Federal reserve system; and as a result H. R. 11806 was prepared and introduced On March 6.

Following the introduction Of the bill, with the assistance Of Doctor Commons and Others, I prepared a questionnaire and submitted the same to the members of the Federal reserve system who are to appear at these hearings. Not that we expect or desire them to answer the questions in detail, consecutively, but in order that they might be advised of the nature Of questions we would desire them to discuss before the committee; and I should like to introduce at this time, to be placed in the record, that list of questions.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, that will be inserted in the record at this point.

(The questionnaire referred to is as follows :)

PROPOSED SUBJECTS OF I N Q U I R Y OF WITNESSES

I f there should occur a change in the membership of the Federal Reserve Board such that a majority wished to carry through a policy of inflation of commodity prices and if the board should change the Federal reserve agents and the class C directors of the Federal reserve banks accordingly, could the reserve system produce an inflation of the average price level of commodities in general?

What means could be used ?

1. Retire gold certificates and substitute Federal reserve notes.

2. Buy securities.



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