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As fiscal agents of the Government, the federal reserve banks rendered the nation services of incalculable value after our entrance into the war, services in connection with the issuance of our large Liberty loans and our ad-interim treasury notes, with a minimum disturbance to our money markets.
They aided greatly in the conservation of our gold resources, in the regulation of our foreign exchanges, and in general in the centralization and efficient utilization of our financial energies. In this time of great emergency the federal reserve system was a bulwark to our national finance. One shudders when he thinks what might have happened if the war had found us with our former decentralized and antiquated banking system. Think of pouring the crisis of 1914-1918 into bottles that broke with the crisis of 1907!
The post-war situation demands in financial matters the maximum of efficiency. If we are to do our part in solving the tremendous financial problems of world reconstruction, we must make every dollar count to the utmost. This means the coordination of all parts of our banking system. It means integration under a responsible central control, and it means administration with sole regard to national welfare. Upon this subject we may conclude this book with the
words of President Wilson, made public October 13, 1917. They apply to the period of reconstruction as truly as they did to the period of
“It is manifestly imperative that there should be a complete mobilization of the banking reserves of the United States. All who are familiar with financial operations must appreciate the importance of developing to the maximum our banking power and of providing financial machinery adequate for meeting the very great financial requirements imposed upon our country by reason of the war. A vigorous prosecution and satisfactory termination of the war will depend in no small degree upon the ability of the Government not only to finance itself, but also to aid the governments associated with it in the war, which must be kept supplied with munitions, fuel, food, and supplies of all kinds. The banking problem involved is one which concerns all banks alike. Its solution does not depend upon the national banks alone, nor upon the state banks. The burden and the privilege must be shared by every banking institution in the country.
“The extent to which our country can withstand the financial strains for which we must be prepared will depend very largely upon the
strength and staying power of the federal reserve banks.
"Many of the largest state banks and trust companies are now becoming members, realizing that to win the war we must conserve all of the physical, financial, and moral resources of our country—that our finances must rest on the firmest possible foundation, and that they must be adequately and completely conserved so as to respond instantly to every legitimate demand. How can this necessary condition be brought about and be made permanently effective better than by the concentration of the banking strength of our country in the federal reserve system? .
“I believe that cooperation on the part of the banks is a patriotic duty at this time, and that membership in the federal reserve system is a distinct and significant evidence of patriotism.'
COMBINED BALANCE SHEET OF TWELVE FED. ERAL RESERVE BANKS, FEBRUARY 20, 1920, AND BRIEF EXPLANATIONS OF THE
Gold coin and certificates in vault?...
Bills discounted :
Bills secured by government war obliga
Total bills on hand....
Total earning assets.
eral reserve bank notes 14 All other resources15
Capital paid in 18
Total gross deposits
2,815,450,000 Federal reserve notes in actual circulation22 2,977,124,000 Federal reserve bank notes in circulation, net liability23
240,858,000 All other liabilities24
1 This represents reserve money held in the vaults of federal reserve banks against deposits and federal reserve notes. See text, pp. 52, 58-60; and Act, sec. 16, par. 3.
2 This is a gold fund held in the United States treasury by the federal reserve board, in trust for the federal reserve banks, and the money it contains is transferred from one federal reserve bank to another or to or fr the treasurer of the United States by means of debits and credits on books kept by the federal reserve board in Washington. Gold held in the fund to the credit of any federal reserve bank is counted as lawful reserve money against federal reserve notes or deposits. See text, pp. 75-76; and Act, sec. 2, 3d, and 4th pars. from last.
8 Federal reserve banks have established agencies in a number of foreign countries, and, as a matter of convenience as well as