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Theme: "Corporate History"
“Checks & Balances: Presidents and American Finance” illuminates the financial challenges faced by American Presidents both in the Oval Office and in their personal lives. Now showing at the Museum of American Finance through November 2012.
Lawrence McDonald, a leading financial lecturer, will speak on his bestselling book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The (Museum's) collection is wonderful. The history of banking and finance is visually very rich in ways you may not at first imagine.
To understand fully the Crash and Panic of 1907, one must consider its context: it was a time somewhat like the present. A Republican moralist was in the White House. War was fresh in mind. Immigration was fueling dramatic changes in society. New technologies were changing people's everyday lives. Business consolidators and their Wall Street advisers were creating large, new combinations through mergers and acquisitions, while the government was investigating and prosecuting prominent executives -- led by an aggressive young prosecutor from New York. The public's attitude toward business leaders, fueled by a muckraking press, was largely negative. The government itself was becoming increasingly interventionist in society and, in some ways, more intrusive in individual life. Much of this was stimulated by a postwar economic expansion that, with brief interruptons, had lasted about 50 years, although in recent months a major natural disaster had disturbed the equilibrium of the nation's fragile financial system. As Mark Twain supposedly said, "History may not repeat itself, but it occasionally rhymes."
Since its inception in 1886, Sears has issued many glossy publications filled with numbers and descriptions. Most of those have been catalogues, with dazzling copy written by Richard Sears himself. But exactly 100 years ago the firm issued a different publication filled with numbers and descriptions: its first annual report.
Back when the United States was primarily a primarily an agrarian society, the banker, the doctor, the preacher, the lawyer and, in a way, the bar owner, were the enduring pillars of each town. It was the town banker, however, who enabled the farm-centric communities to survive and thrive.
Now that the fossil record clearly shows that some dinosaurs evolved into birds, it should not be such a surprise that almost all of the first 12 companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are still around. Their names reek of turn-of-the-century incipient industrialism: Tennessee Coal & Iron, American Cotton Oil, Distilling & Cattle Feeding. But well into the Information Age, only one on the debut list of May 26, 1896 is entirely gone. The U.S. Leather trust, the only preferred issue of the first Dow Dozen, was dropped in 1905. The trust was dissolved in 1911, and hardly a trace of the company or the industry remains in this country.
One out of every two beers sold in the U.S. is brewed by Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis, MO. The family-run company traces its origins to the 1860s, but 2002 marks the first time in the company's 142-year history that its president and chief executive will be a non-family member.
How a Group of Business Students Sold Enron
a Year Before the Collapse
It is Wall Street lore that no one saw the collapse of Enron coming. Chairman Kenneth Lay, CFO Andrew Fastow, COO Jeffrey Skilling and their band of brigands had done such a good job of fooling accountants, auditors, investors and regulators that the implosion was a shock to all. Like much received wisdom on Wall Street, this is not entirely true.