This Day in Business History

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September 1

1799 Bank of Manhattan Company, forerunner to Chase Manhattan, opens in New York City.
1875 A murder conviction effectively forces the "Molly Maguires" to disband. While some may take issue with the group's tactics of violence and intimidation, it's hard to quibble with their desire to improve the lives of the nation's miners, who were forced to work long hours in hazardous conditions for paltry pay. Mine operators, meanwhile, skirted around regulations with well-placed bribes. Feeling powerless to effect change through "proper channels," a group of anthracite miners in Pennsylvania decided to take action. Using an Irish gang of terrorists as their model, the miners donned women's clothes--hence the name--and set about taming mine bosses and strike breakers. Mine officials responded by hiring an operative of the anti-union Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate the Mollies; though this move ultimately led to the murder trial, some still claim that the charges were trumped-up to guarantee a conviction.
1954 The U.S. Social Security Act is amended. As a result, the Social Security rolls increased by seven million people, most of them self-employed farmers.
1960 Disgruntled Pennsylvania Railroad workers effectively halt operations for two days, first shutdown in the company's 114-year history.
1976 The first issue of The Wall Street Journal Asia hits newsstands.

September 2

1789 The U.S. Treasury Department is founded; its roots, though, can be traced back to the American Revolution. Back in 1775, the Revolutionary leaders were groping with ways to fund the war. Their solution--issuing cash that doubled as redeemable "bills of credit"--raised enough capital to fuel the Revolution. However, the war notes also led to the country's first debt. The Continental Congress attempted to rein in the economy, even forming a pre-Constitutional version of the Treasury. Neither this move, nor the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which enabled the U.S. to seek loans from foreign countries, proved effective. The debt kept mounting, while war notes rapidly deflated in value. With the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, the Government established a permanent Treasury Department in hopes of quelling the debt. President Washington named his former "aide-de-camp," Alexander Hamilton, to head the new office. The former New York lawyer and staunch Federalist stepped in as Secretary of the Treasury on September 11. Hamilton soon outlined a practical plan for reviving the nation's ailing economy: the Government would pay back its $75 million war debt and thus repair its badly damaged public credit.
1890 At a meeting, delegates of the Single Tax National League pass the main--and only--plank of their party platform: a single tax that would be assessed on all property.
1969 Sensing a slide in the nation's economy, long-standing AFL-CIO leader George Meaney calls on the government to implement wage and price controls. It wasn't until two years later that President Nixon heeded his advice and installed a wage and price freeze. However, the move did little to revive the slumping economy.
1992 In a last ditch effort to woo voters, President George Bush unveils an economic plan that included $2 billion in aid for farmers, as well as the profits from a lucrative fighter-jet sale for his adopted home-state of Texas.

September 3

1969 The death of the North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh inspires pessimism on Wall Street, as investors engage in an outburst of precautionary trading. After a day of steady selling, the Dow had dropped 10.37 points to close at 825.30. Wall Street's reaction was well-founded. Ho Chi Minh was a revered figure who had led his people's charge to independence, and despite assurances otherwise by U.S. officials, there was every reason to believe that his death would imperil the peace process. The ensuing weeks--and years--bore out these fears, as the war dragged on, taking a heavy toll on the U.S. economy.
1971 The IRS decides to take a closer look at the economics of Yippie leader Jerry Rubin's tax-exempt organization. Rubin was no stranger to the fiscal world--in 1968 he and co-hort Abbie Hoffman hit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to lecture traders about the evils of capitalism.
1997 Arizona Governor Fife Symington is convicted for various fiscal offenses tied to his real estate business. The verdict effectively forced the two-term Governor to relinquish his office.

September 4

1875 Political cartoonist Kirby Rollin is born in Galva, IL. The Pulitzer Prize winner satirized Wall Street and big business, as well as a host of other foes.
1894 Some 12,000 tailors take to the streets of New York to protest the continued existence of sweatshops. Though the day's New York Herald gave the strike little notice, brushing it off as a mere "meeting," the walk-off was part of an almost annual tradition of labor action by garment workers. Along with poor working conditions, the workers protested the industry standard of paying piece rates, a practice which tended to favor productivity over the well-being of workers. The strikers demanded weekly wages, as well as the guarantee that they would receive their pay in a "timely" fashion. The walk-off did effect some change, as the New York government passed legislation in 1896 that promised to improve the workplace. Despite these laws and subsequent amendments, sweatshop conditions and wage disputes continue to plague the garment industry.
1959 Congress passes the Labor Reform Act. The legislation moved to rein in the nation's unions.

September 5

1837 President Martin Van Buren speaks out against state-chartered banks. An ensuing batch of bank failures gave credence to Van Buren's call for a Treasury independent of state institutions.
1882 Labor Day is born in New York, intended to be a tribute to the toil and achievements of the nation's workers. The holiday was also a testament to the strength of the burgeoning labor movement, which helped push the event onto the national stage. Thanks to the efforts of various union leaders, Labor Day became an official holiday in 1894.
1924 Paul A. Volcker, who chaired the Federal Reserve Board before Alan Greenspan took the helm in 1987, is born. Volcker headed up the Fed between 1979 and 1987. During his tenure, Volcker waged war to curtail the rising tide of inflation that plagued the nation during the 1970s.
1988 Backed by $2 billion in Federal aid, the Robert M. Bass Group signs off on a deal to acquire the nation's largest bankrupt thrift, American Savings and Loan Association. The bailout had been brewing for some time. In 1984, the Stockton, California-based thrift reported a whopping 2nd quarter loss of $107.5 million, which triggered a $6.8 billion run on deposits. Despite adopting an aggressive strategy to stem the losses, American Savings and Loan continued to flounder. With the thrift clearly in trouble, several buyers appeared, including the Ford Motor Corp. However, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which brokered the deal, shut the automaker out and opted to give the Bass Group and its reclusive billionaire chairman an exclusive shot at American Savings and Loan. The result was the most expensive bailout ever for a single Savings and Loan institution.

September 6

1888 Joseph P. Kennedy, patriarch of the nation's first family, is born. He was a bank president at age 25 and millionaire by age 30. Although Kennedy ostensibly made his wealth as a stock manager and independent investor who skillfully manipulated the Bull Market of the '20s, a healthy bootleg liquor business is rumored to have helped pad his coffers. Kennedy retired in 1929--before the markets could deflate his wealth--and embarked on a career that mixed politics, leadership on Wall Street and a failed stab at becoming a motion picture mogul. In 1934, Kennedy was named the first chairman of the newly formed Securities and Exchange Commission by President Roosevelt, who also appointed him Ambassador to England in 1937. Despite his wealth, Kennedy's Catholic roots loomed too large with the nation's Protestant elite, and he was denied acceptance by America's leading families and businessmen. Determined to break these finely drawn barriers, Kennedy groomed his children to gain power and respect by holding public office. John F., with both charisma and his father's money, became the first Kennedy son to rise to national power. Although the family has been troubled by scandal and tragedy, Papa Joe did live to see his offspring rise to the top of America's aristocracy.
1945 President Truman lays out an economic recovery plan to Congress that would address post-War housing and employment needs.
1973 W.A. "Tony" Boyle, the aging former leader of the United Mine Workers is slapped with murder charges for the deaths of former UMW rival Joseph A. Yablonski and his wife and daughter.

September 7

1956 Racketeer Johnny Dio and five of his cronies are convicted for attacking journalist Victor Reisel. Dio and his gang had blinded the anti-gambling columnist by throwing acid in his face.
1979 Chrysler Motor Corp. announces that it is going to post record pre-tax losses for the year. Due to an overstock of cars, as well as a three-week delay in starting production on their 1980 models, Chrysler was nearing Bethlehem Steel's record-setting pre-tax loss of $911 million. The company, while not disclosing the precise figure, gave assurances that it wouldn't go over the $1 billion mark. Still, an inside source admitted that the loss had swelled past previous estimates of $600-$700 million. Looking to somehow cap the losses, Chrysler's executives compiled a "rescue plan" which centered on asking for roughly $1 billion in Federal assistance. They also took steps to unload the company's surplus of undesirable, boat-sized cars and instituted a series of cost-saving measures.
1997 The Millionaire Next Door, a how-to-guide for that most American of goals--getting rich--continues its run at the top slot on the New York Times Business Best Seller list.

September 8

1950 Congress passes the Defense Production Act, which called for various economic measures, including wage and price controls.
1996 When Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gives one of his periodic updates, analysts and traders launch into a frenzy of analysis, deconstructing the speech for any sign of a slowdown in the Bull Run. Though Wall Street felt that Greenspan delivered a cautious message, the ensuing months saw the economy enjoy another period of unprecedented growth.
1997 America Online (AOL), the nation's largest Internet service provider, brokers an elaborate three-player deal to acquire fast-fading CompuServe. Under the terms of the deal, WorldCom, a rising telecommunications company, anted up $1.2 billion in stock to acquire H&R Block's 80% stake in CompuServe. WorldCom then handed over CompuServe's base of 2.6 million subscribers in exchange for ASN, AOL's Internet telecommunications division. The addition of CompuServe's globally rich subscription base promised to fatten AOL's hefty lead in the U.S., as well as its presence abroad. AOL was also set to receive $175 million from WorldCom, a considerable sum for a company that had yet to turn a profit. The deal certainly strengthened WorldCom's technological capabilities: along with ASN, they got to hold on to some of CompuServe's key technology, including their speedy telecommunication lines and Internet connections.

September 9

1901 Workers lay the cornerstone for a new NYSE building at 18 Broad Street. Finished in 1903 (and still open today), the new quarters included a trading floor that was over twice the size of its predecessor.
1909 Financier and railroad kingpin Edward Harriman passes away. Harriman started his career as a broker's clerk in New York, eventually saving up enough money to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Following this Alger-esque rise to wealth and power, Harriman turned his attention to the nation's rail lines and, along with a group of bankers, acquired the troubled Union Pacific Railroad Company. By the time of his death, Harriman's aggressive ways not only produced 60,000 miles of rail track, but also spawned a financial crisis and raised the ire of more than a few Americans, including President Teddy Roosevelt.
1981 A power outage on the lower floor forces the New York Stock Exchange to shut down early. Con Edison was called in to fix the problem and the Exchange was up and running the next day.
1985 After flirting with a move to Delaware, Wall Street mainstay Morgan Guaranty announces that it would stay in New York City. The company also announced that it would be relocating to a new office tower built by developer George Kline.
1987 The Fed and its then-new Chairman, Alan Greenspan, raise the discount rates, and the markets go into a frenzy. The Dow promptly dropped 62 points, though it did make a slight recovery by the end of the day. Bond prices spun through a similar cycle, plummeting and then rallying before ending the day with a loss of 1 3/4 points. While the half-point hike in the discount rate--the amount that the Fed charges on loans to banks and "savings institutions"--was officially deemed a reaction to "potential inflationary pressures," some analysts wondered if Greenspan wasn't more concerned with boosting the slumping bond markets. Others interpreted the raise as the Fed's attempt to show its resolve in maintaining the anti-inflation record of the previous Chairman, Paul Volcker. Still, the move did not succeed in quelling concerns about the dollar; analysts and brokers predicted that the Fed would make another move to bump up discount rates.

September 10

1883 Fearful that the nation's fiscal policies were encroaching on states' rights, President Jackson declares his intention to remove government deposits from the Bank of the United States. The decision took effect a few weeks later and proved to be one of the more controversial decisions of "Old Hickory's" political career. Jackson's rival Henry Clay guided two resolutions through the Senate that censured the President for overstepping his Constitutional bounds, as well as failing to provide adequate explanation for the move. On top of these political consequences, the removal also stirred up financial troubles. Jackson inadvertently triggered a "currency crisis" and the bank-fueled Panic of 1837.
1984 Walter Mondale, Democratic nominee for President, unveils a plan to reduce the deficit by $175 million. Unfortunately for Mondale the plan was derided by a large portion of the public, including some of his fellow Democrats, mainly because it revolved around the always unpopular tax increase. Although the increases would only impact the wealthy and corporations, a strong backlash against Mondale's brand of "tax and spend" liberalism developed. Come November, President Reagan swept into a second term, winning every state in the nation except for Mondale's home state, Minnesota.
1992 Fading fast in the '92 campaign, President George Bush falls back on an age-old crowd pleaser--the tax cut. Unfortunately for the GOP, the proposal, which called for a wide-ranging, 1% cut, didn't prevent Democratic challenger Bill Clinton from sweeping Bush out of office.

September 11

1789 With the nation in need of a strong financial leader, President George Washington appoints American Revolutionist and stalwart Federalist Alexander Hamilton to step in as the first secretary of the treasury. The move came a week after the official founding of the Treasury Department. Hamilton was Washington's aide-de-camp during the American Revolution, and was instrumental in the formation of the U.S. Constitution. During Washington's administration, Hamilton, with his support of strong federal government and conservative property rights, often came into conflict with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic idealist who favored states' rights.
1841 President John Tyler's vacillation between Whig and Democrat policies finally takes its toll when all the members of his cabinet, except for Secretary of State Daniel Webster, resign over Tyler's decision to veto a Whig-sponsored bank bill. Disagreement over the bank issue had been building throughout the summer. In late July, Tyler vetoed an initial version of the legislation, which he deemed unconstitutional due to its mandate for state bank offices. Undaunted, Congress revised the legislation, most notably by making the adoption of state offices a matter of consent rather than compulsion. Though the bill was built to appease the President, Tyler nonetheless struck it down. Along with his staff, Tyler lost much of his remaining political credibility. The state-centric Whigs, who had supported his rise to the Oval Office, summarily dumped the President from their party.
1967 Robert W. Haack takes the reins of the New York Stock Exchange from departing President, Keith Fenston.
1986 The Dow sharply drops 86.61 points to close the day at 1,792.89.

September 12

1966 Keith Fenston announces that he is stepping down from his post as President of the New York Stock Exchange. Fenston began his tenure in 1951.
1996 Encouraged by promising inflation reports, the Dow flirts with, and briefly breaks record levels throughout the day. After inching over the record of 5,778 points, blue-chip stocks closed at a still healthy 5,771.94.
1997 A report released by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announces that America's annualized losses on bank credit cards had ballooned to its highest level in 14 years. According to the FDIC, the losses accounted for 5.22% of every $100 charged to the nation's credit cards. Perhaps more illustrative of the problem than statistics was the attendant news that Americans were declaring bankruptcy in record numbers. According to the FDIC's chairman, Andrew Hove Jr., bankruptcy amounted to roughly half of "bank credit card charge-offs." Karen Shaw Petrou, a senior consultant at ISD/Shaw Inc., interpreted the news in more alarming terms, noting that it painted "a picture of highly leveraged consumers less able to handle their debts--and more willing than ever to walk away from them."

September 13

1995 With the threat of terrorism growing, small and medium-sized companies start buying kidnapping and ransom insurance to protect workers heading overseas to conduct business. According to a New York Times report from 1995, companies were choosing to cover all their employees, though in most cases even foreign-bound employees stood little chance of falling prey to kidnappers and extortionists.
1996 The Gillette Company takes another step in expanding its presence at retail checkout counters around the globe by announcing its merger with battery giant Duracell. Starting in the mid-'80s, Gillette had gone vertical, snapping up major players in the toothbrush and writing instrument industries. Not only did the merger with Duracell jive with Gillette's business philosophy, it made good fiscal sense: with sales of $2.3 billion, Duracell's batteries became Gillette's second best-selling product line. And the transaction, valued at roughly $7 billion in stock, didn't exactly hurt Duracell, which had failed to meet earnings estimates in recent months. Not only would it provide a quick return for shareholders, but the merger gave Duracell access to Gillette's mighty global distribution capabilities. After suffering a post-announcement dip, Gillette's stock eventually rebounded to post a gain for the day.

Wall Street views the news that sales and prices were flat in August of 1996 as clear signs that inflation was in check. Investors sent the markets into record territory, with the Dow closing the day at a then-unprecedented 5,838.52 points.

September 14

1901 Investors mourn the death of business-friendly President William McKinley by engaging in a steady sell-off. Stocks promptly fell and the Dow closed the day with a 3.20 point loss. The drop was also a reflection of Wall Street's fears over Teddy Roosevelt's ascension to the presidency. A few years earlier, Republican officials, supported by prominent business leaders, had purposely buried the freewheeling Rough Rider as McKinley's vice president. Now, much to their chagrin, Roosevelt was set to take over the presidency.
1966 The Senate adopts legislation to raise the nation's minimum wage. The amendment paved the way for a new rate of $1.40 an hour and expanded the wage to reach State and local government workers at public schools and nursing homes, as well as the construction industry.
1967 The Federal Trade Commission decides to modify its initial judgement on AT&T's rate policies. In the initial ruling, the FTC had declared that AT&T's charges for "interstate services" should be capped at a "fair rate" of 7% to 7.5%. Despite the adjustment, the FTC's decisions sent the phone giant's stock spiraling to an all-time low.
1992 With the global economy mired in a nasty slump and U.S. and European leaders applying pressure, Germany decides to slash interest rates for the first time since 1987.

September 15

1946 Oliver Stone is born. Stone is in fact deeply tied to Wall Street--his father was a stockbroker, as well as a publisher of a noted investment newsletter. Following a brief stint at Yale University, Stone moved abroad, served time in Vietnam, and wrote a novel that would sit unpublished until the mid-1990's. By the beginning of the '70's, he had returned to the U.S. and embarked on his career as a writer-director-provocateur. After cleaning up at the Oscars in 1986 for Platoon, Stone turned his camera and pen towards his father's realm--the stock market. Never one for subtlety, Wall Street was pure Stone: a loud morality play set against the '80's investment world. Though the film revolved around the temptation of a young stockbroker played by Charlie Sheen, co-star Michael Douglas easily stole the show with his sleazy portrayal of a corrupt, Boesky-esque financier.
1966 The NYSE relaxes its rules and decrees that members are allowed to make trades on listed stocks with non-member firms.
1997 Sara Lee Corp. officials announce a plan to outsource and outright sell some of its operations. Sara Lee estimated that the move would help rake in $3 billion in cash, as well as allow the company to become more competitive.

September 16

1920 A horse-drawn wagon filled with explosives suddenly detonates near the subtreasury in New York's financial district. Flames flooded Wall Street, shooting up nearly six-stories-high. The blast shattered windows around the area and sent a pipe crashing against the neck of a man strolling some six blocks away from the subtreasury. All told, 300 people were killed and a hundred more were wounded. The only famous financial figure to be injured was Junius Spencer, J.P. Morgan's grandson, who suffered a slight gash on one hand. Since radical bashing was in vogue at the time, Communists, Anarchists, and anyone else leaning too far to the left were accused of having staged a violent protest against capitalism. More pragmatic souls argued that the wagon belonged to an explosives operation and had simply strayed from its prescribed route. Whatever merits these theories have, the ensuing investigation failed to uncover the culprit or cause of the blast, and the case remains a mystery.
1976 Congress puts the finishing touches on what was to become the Tax Reform Act of '76. In theory, the legislation aimed to place a chunk of the nation's tax burden on the wealthy, with an increase in the minimum mandatory payments, as well as a reduction in the rolls of citizens who claimed special tax shelters. The Tax Reform Act passed into the law books by the end of the year.
1997 Apple Computers enlists founder and former CEO Steve Jobs to temporarily run the company during a search for a permanent leader. It was a strange and melodramatic twist for Jobs, who, a decade earlier, had parted ways with Apple under bitter circumstances.

September 17

1868 The nation's six-year-old currency agency is officially christened as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
1968 An irate President Lyndon Johnson takes Chrysler to task for its sky-high prices.
1996 Executives for the Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers (UAW) sign a three-year contract that promised to retain 95 percent of Ford's hourly wage jobs for union workers, regardless of retirements or departures. UAW made some concessions to management, including a "two-tier" wage scale for parts and assembly-line workers, but the resulting contract, which also increased workers' pension pay, was a victory for the union, especially in an era when competition-conscious corporations were either cutting jobs or shipping them overseas. The deal was so friendly to labor that it elicited quiet grumbles from Ford's fellow Big Three automakers. The Ford-UAW agreement hindered the rest of the industry's ability to push through planned job cuts. General Motors, for one, was gearing up to shrink its work force by 50,000 to 70,000 jobs. Not surprisingly, trouble came a few years later, as union workers at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, hit the picket line to protest the company's plans to downsize.

September 18

1789 With the nation's finances in something of a mess, the U.S. government takes out its first loan. Under the supervision of newly appointed Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, the government took a little under a year to pay back the loan of $191,608.81.
1873 The Panic of 1873 begins, with the surprise collapse of Jay Cooke and Co., one of the country's most reputable brokerage houses. Jay Cooke's downfall, due mainly to an ill-fated decision to fund a second transcontinental railroad line, was a highly visible symptom of America's fiscal instability. After twelve years of unchecked expansion, the economy was bloated from inflation and excess speculation and when the Panic hit, it had devastating results. Along with Jay Cooke, 37 banks and two brokerage houses closed their doors. In the ensuing days, the losses increased and the NYSE was forced to shut down for over a week. With the situation growing dire, the secretary of the Treasury decided to infuse the economy with $26 million in paper money. Despite the government's efforts, the Panic did not subside, and the economy continued its slump through the end of the decade.
1925 At 2:30 p.m., the New York Stock Exchange shuts down to honor the funeral of a former president, Seymour L. Cromwell.
1997 Ted Turner speaks at the United Nations Association dinner and unveils a plan to hand over $1 billion to the U.N. The donation, one of the largest single charitable gifts in history, was intended to fuel programs benefiting children and refugees. Even Turner didn't anticipate the announcement. Following the speech, he explained that the donation was a spontaneous gesture, triggered by a fondness for the U.N. and its "one for all, all for one" ideal. The move also caught the U.N. off-guard. Secretary General Kofi Annan was given little time to react, let alone prepare a plan for utilizing the money, though he noted that Turner's gift, which nearly equaled the U.N.'s annual budget, was "noble and extraordinary." True to form, Turner peppered the speech with his trademark braggadocio. He noted that the rationale behind the amount of the donation was simple, it matched his earnings since the beginning of 1997. Turner also got in a shot at the U.S. Government, chiding officials for the country's $1.5 billion in unpaid dues, in addition to criticizing Bill Gates, another famous, but more parsimonious multibillionaire.

September 19

1778 The Committee on Finance of the Continental Congress presents the nation's first budget.
1901 The New York Stock Exchange closes to honor the funeral of President William McKinley. McKinley, who had been shot on September 6 in Buffalo, New York by a Polish anarchist, died on September 14.
1996 The Commerce Department reports that the number of housing starts for the month of August increased to its highest level since March 1994, growing 4.5 percent to reach an unexpected 1.53 million units. Fearing that the Federal Reserve would respond by raising interest rates, a traditional anti-inflationary measure, traders promptly started a small sell-off. By lunchtime, the Dow had dropped 25.15 points, leaving it at 5,852.21. Fortunately, these worries died down by the early afternoon and the markets posted a mild rebound. The Dow eventually ended the day with a modest loss of 7.03 points.

September 20

1837 Just two days after Jay Cooke & Co., one of the nation's most reputable brokerage firms, declared bankruptcy, the New York Stock Exchange closes down for ten days to wait out the worst of the crisis. The secretary of the Treasury responded to these events by pumping $26 million of new currency into the economy, swelling the amount of paper money in circulation to $382 million.
1995 AT&T announces that it is going to split into three smaller companies. Cynics also snickered that this was an ironic move for a company that a decade earlier was legally forced to trim down the monopolistic scope of its operations. By the mid-90s, AT&T had decided that it needed to "divide to conquer." By lopping off its ailing computer division, as well as the more lucrative Network equipment arm, the company was focusing attention and resources on its communications services. The decision to shed the expense of the other arms made statistical sense; telephones and related business amounted to 60 percent of AT&T's sales, as well as the bulk of its profits. Though rivals like MCI were making inroads into the long-distance market, analysts still supported the move, betting that AT&T was readying itself for a triumphant return to the local service arena. In the wake of the announcement, AT&T's stock scooted up $6.125 per share--an 11 percent gain--to close the day at $63.75.

September 21

1931 Americans' insecurity in the nation's banking system grows more pronounced with the announcement that Great Britain had decided to abandon the gold standard. Most people assumed that the United States would follow suit and pull out of the precious metal. Since gold was the standard bank reserve, the public also assumed that any money they had in the banks would be at risk. A mini-panic ensued, as people rushed to withdraw their savings and stockpile any available gold. By the end of October 1931, 827 banks had been forced to shut down. The public's suspicions, meanwhile, proved to be a bit premature, as the government did not give up the gold standard until 1933.
1941 Congress passes the Revenue Act of 1941, increasing the burden on America's taxpayers to help pay for the upcoming conflict.
1970 The prime rate is reduced and the New York Stock Exchange's short interest rate ballooned to its highest level in four years.

September 22

1995 Media mogul Ted Turner sells his broadcasting company to Time Warner Inc. The deal called for Time Warner to hand over $7.5 billion to create one of the world's largest media concerns, flush with roughly $20 billion in assets. While the merger promised to further pad Turner's coffers, it didn't sit so well with some of his shareholders. Cable heavyweights Comcast Corp. and Continental Cablevision ultimately limited their reactions to some well-publicized grousing, but US West, which held a $2.55 billion ownership stake in Time Warner Enterprises, wheeled into action with a lawsuit designed to halt the deal. To further complicate matters, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began a lengthy investigation centered on the anti-trust implications of the merger. It took Time and Turner a full year of negotiating to silence their critics and shape the acquisition to the FTC's liking. Finally, after sifting through over a million pages of documents and holding months of deliberations, the FTC approved the deal in September of 1996. While they didn't prevent the merger, the various delays put enough of a crimp on Time Warner's stock to cause the value of the deal to shrink to $6.5 billion.
1997 IBM announces that it had revolutionized computer chips by using copper instead of aluminum in the production of semiconductors. The innovation, which promised to make chips smaller, faster, and less expensive to produce, sent IBM's shares up 5-7/16 to 104-11/16.

September 23

1883 Robert B. Taney begins his term as the nation's twelfth secretary of the Treasury.
1930 Ray Charles (Robinson) is born. He broke ground by fusing gospel with blues and other secular musical styles. He went on to score a number of successes, including his 1950s hit song "Greenbacks," in which he rhapsodized about "those little pieces of paper coated with chlorophyll."
1976 President Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter engage in a debate that revolved mainly around economic issues. Ford and Carter wrangled over the relative merits of tax cuts and whether or not the country was headed toward increased inflation. While the debate was certainly more civil than some of the political debates of the eighties and nineties, it did feature a few edgy exchanges. In his gentle Southern manner, Carter chided Ford for neglecting the economy, which had continued to wallow in the funk that had begun in the late sixties. The president, meanwhile, dismissed Carter as a soft-headed liberal whose tight-fisted proposals revealed his naivete about managing America's money. The Georgia governor, however, turned his inexperience into a virtue, eventually winning the election by positioning himself as an outsider, untainted by Watergate and the ineffectiveness of the current administration.

September 24

1869 Gold prices plummeted, sending the markets into chaos. At the root of the wreckage was an old-fashioned swindle, engineered by flamboyant financier Jay Gould and his robber baron partner, James Fisk. Gould and Fisk conspired to inflate and then corner the gold market, primarily by spreading a rumor that President Grant was about to stop the sale of government gold. Grant, who was better suited to the battlefield than office, initially bought into their logic, due, in part, to his belief that the sale of government gold would hurt farmers and small-time entrepreneurs. The president eventually saw through the scheme and, in response, put $4 million worth of gold on the market. The price of gold in specie, which had previously swelled to $163.50, promptly shrank to $133. Investors were ruined and the economy went into a tailspin. The swindle ultimately took a toll on two of its main players. It blemished Grant's record, raising suspicions about the war hero's competency. Gould surreptitiously dumped his share of the gold before the drop in specie prices, leaving Fisk with a hefty loss on the deal.
1996 After years of success as a private company, Avis Rent-A-Car goes public. HFS (formerly Hospitality Franchise Systems), a hospitality franchiser, as well as the owner of Avis, put 75 percent of the rental car company's shares on the block. The result was a steady day of trading, as the stock, which opened at $17 a share, climbed to $22 by midday.
1997 At the IMF and World Bank's annual meeting in Hong Kong, Southeast Asian leaders chastise foreign investors for precipitating the the region's financial crisis. Some fingers were pointed at the use of aggressive "Wall Street-style" trading practices, while Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad railed against the "great powers"--namely the United States--who, in his view, "manipulated" Asian economies as a means to destroy their competitive power in the global marketplace.

September 25

1996 In a move to keep pace with the competition, Loral Space Communications announces that it had acquired Skynet, AT&T's broadcast satellite division. The deal cost Loral a cool $712.5 million in cash, money that AT&T would use to try to dethrone the "Baby Bells" in the nation's long-distance and local markets.

With the takeoff of Flight 21, Pan Am Airlines is back in business. In 1991, financial woes had forced the once-prosperous airline to ground its fleet. While the revived company was armed with $40 million in capital and an experienced staff and management team, investors remained wary. After starting the day at an asking price of $15, Pan Am's stock made a modest gain to close at $16.75.
1997 Financial services company Travelers Group acquires investment giant Salomon Brothers. With a $9 billion price tag, the Wall Street stalwart didn't exactly come cheap, but the purchase promised to pay impressive dividends by strengthening Travelers sagging presence in America's investment circles, as well as in foreign markets. Still, the deal faced criticism. Some wondered whether Travelers could mesh the business and culture of its investment bank, Smith Barney, with that of Salomon Brothers, while others questioned the steep purchase price, which was roughly double Salomon's official value of $4.6 billion. There was also an inevitable round of layoffs to consider, which threatened to damage company morale. Such arguments seemed to matter little to Travelers' ambitious president Sanford Weill. After all, he had just completed a deal that promised to secure Travelers an elite position at the top of the investment community.

September 26

1914 Under the watchful eye of President Wilson, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is established in 1914 to enforce anti-trust and consumer protection legislation. Along with these duties, the FTC also served as a visible link between government and the business community.
1931 As more and more Americans lose their jobs, President Hoover convenes a national conference on unemployment. On the agenda was not just the shortage of jobs, but how to address the discontentment of those Americans who had previously been shortchanged by the labor system. After serving in World War I, African-Americans were beginning to protest job discrimination and their relegation to low-paying work. In response, the Hoover Conference suggested a jobs program, as well as a slash in prices. Although this wouldn't directly stimulate jobs, the Commission hoped it would make goods more readily available to all citizens.
1956 President Eisenhower has a sudden heart attack and the NYSE promptly posts its largest drop since the Depression. The Dow also suffered from Ike's illness, dropping 31.89 points in a frenzied day of trading. While Wall Street charged through a sell-off, others tried to sound a note of calm. The president's team of doctors deemed the attack moderate and predicted a complete recovery. Meanwhile, the secretary of the Treasury stepped in to assure investors that the situation, though "a cause for sadness," didn't warrant panic. Fortunately for the nation's economic health, the doctors' prognosis proved correct; Ike quickly recovered and headed back to the White House. The markets followed suit, as the various averages returned to their pre-attack levels.

September 27

1985 Hurricane Gloria forces the New York Stock Exchange to close its doors for the day.
1989 Sony's purchase of Columbia Pictures is completed. For the sum of $3.4 billion, Sony was not only grabbing one of Hollywood's hottest studios, it was buying synergy, that magical quality of product cross-pollination that all public companies had begun to seek. Sony's president, Norio Ohga, wanted to unite Sony's industry-leading consumer electronics division with Columbia's entertainment properties. The vision, as the Wall Street Journal put it the following day, was of Columbia's film hits such as Rambo playing on pocket VCRs and other new Sony gadgets. Analysts applauded the deal, praising Ohga's strategic vision. No one predicted that Columbia's string of Hollywood successes would abruptly come to an end. Under the direction of producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber, the studio unleashed a series of costly flops and racked-up a $3 billion debt, prompting Sony officials to consider putting their once-prized purchase back on the selling block.
1995 The Treasury Department unveils a new version of the $100 bill, complete with an off-center, but enlarged picture of Ben Franklin.

September 28

1960 Secretary of the Treasury Robert B. Anderson further fuels the nation's confident mood with a restrained but optimistic report on its fiscal health. "The outlook for economic activity in the country," Anderson determined, "is favorable, both for the near future and many years ahead."
1981 Trouble strikes in Japan and Europe, where stocks spiraled downward in a day of panic-ridden trading. Tokyo's Nikkei average took a record dive of 300 points, while the London exchange posted its third steepest drop in history. While the world markets frantically moved to stem the losses, American analysts and leaders pointed fingers. The conclusion of most columnists and market officials was that a host of other, more fiscally grounded factors, including "uncertainty" about global economic health and the mounting specter of inflation and recession in the United States. Though a few of President Reagan's chief advisors countered with their fears that market gurus like James Granville were damaging economic performance, cooler heads eventually prevailed.

September 29

1804 The United States' first treasurer, Michael Hillegas, dies. In 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Hillegas and George Clymer as joint treasurers. In 1777, Hillegas assumed the role on his own. Hillegas served a somewhat tumultuous tenure until 1789, when Congress officially established the Treasury Department, which was led by Alexander Hamilton.
1952 The New York Stock Exchange shortens its work-week by doing away with half-day Saturday shifts. To make up for the lost day, the NYSE tacked an extra half-hour on to the Wednesday workday, bumping closing time back to 3:30 p.m.
1986 Democrats and Republicans set aside political differences to introduce sweeping tax reform legislation. But mere moments after the Senate approved the bill, the spirit of bipartisan unity evaporated. Members of both parties scrambled to take credit for the legislation, bombarding the press with shameless displays of self-congratulation. The bill, which promised to reduce rates by slashing preferences for people in top tax brackets, held the type of populist appeal that seemed ready-made to win voters. Republicans viewed it as a promising opportunity to make their party more appealing to the working class, and Democrats, protective of their traditional blue-collar allies, reminded whoever would listen that key GOP officials had, in fact, tried to derail the legislation. Credit ultimately belonged to President Reagan, who was hailed for guiding the bill safely through Congress. While Reagan was enjoying the praise, Democrats tried in vain to tie the policy back to Senators Bill Bradley and Richard Gephardt, who co-authored the original tax overhaul bill in 1982.

September 30

1976 In the waning days of his administration, President Ford shoots down a $56 billion appropriations bill for various social service projects, and Congress fires back, successfully overriding the veto.
1986 In the span of three short weeks, the Dow loses just under two hundred points, tumbling from 1919.71 points on September 4 to 1767.58 on September 30.
1990 After years of deriding Democrats as "tax and spend liberals," President George Bush announces his own tax hike, to the tune of $134 billion over five years. After considerable bipartisan wrangling, the package of increases affected a number of items, including gas, cigarettes, alcohol, and luxury goods. Bush did his best to sell the plan, pitching it as a necessary step for ensuring the nation's economic health. Specifically, the taxes were meant as an antidote to the ever-swelling federal deficit; the president and his staff estimated that the taxes would trim the debt by $40 billion in the coming fiscal year and $500 billion over five years. In the wake of the proposal, Bush's campaign pledge not to raise taxes came back to haunt him. Some outraged Republicans refused to support their leader. A few party bigwigs, including Congressman Newt Gingrich, were conspicuously missing from the official announcement in the Rose Garden. Nor was the public particularly fond of the plan. The president's once record-level approval rating plummeted as many former supporters branded him a liar and betrayer. Two years later, he was voted out of office.



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