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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 8, 2008 / 3 Nissan 5768

When markets come crashing down, send for the man with the big red nose

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Too early yet to say whether the present financial turmoils will end in a catastrophic maelstrom or simply slip away like an angry tide, leaving puddles. One has no great confidence in the authorities on either side of the Atlantic. Would that J.P. Morgan were still around to take charge of things and recreate order out of chaos! He solved three financial crises single-handedly. In 1877 his personal intervention enabled the army's payroll to be met. In 1893, called in by President Cleveland, he stemmed the gold outflow from the United States. And in 1907 he calmed the universal panic by simply sitting in his library and summoning people to come to him.


I know a little about this library because I once gave a series of lectures on American history there. Housed in Morgan's own splendid mansion in Manhattan, it is one of the most agreeable places in the world in which to learn and reflect. It contains a choice selection of Old Master drawings but its chief treasure is its immense collection of rare books and manuscripts, which puts it fourth in the world after the Library of Congress, the British Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale. It was not entirely Morgan's own creation because, in 1905, he appointed the ravishing Virginian, Belle da Costa Greene, then 21, his librarian, and sent her on buying sprees all over the world. He encouraged her to stay at the Ritz in Paris and Claridge's in London, and to get her clothes at the leading couturiers. It says a lot for Morgan's impeccable reputation that no one ever questioned the propriety of their relationship, and his judgment in picking her so young was fully vindicated by the shrewdness and taste of her purchases.


The basis of Morgan's power and influence was complex. He was not a self-made man, having inherited much of his money. Nor was he in the very top rank of the rich. When he died his liquid assets scarcely topped $100 million, provoking John D. Rockefeller's famous comment, 'Well, well. And to think that Mr Morgan was not even a wealthy man.' Morgan's authority lay in his reputation for absolutely straight dealing and scrupulous truth-telling. He was never detected, in a long and intricately complex career of mergers, takeovers and trust-creations, in a lie or a piece of sharp practice. But he was not only respected, he was feared. There is a riveting photograph of him, having just stepped out of his limo, raising his silver-topped ebony cane to strike, or more likely just to threaten, a crowd of intrusive paparazzi. The expression of his face is formidable. His eyes, like Gladstone's, had the fierceness and penetration of an eagle owl's. The photographer Edward Steichen said: 'Meeting his eye is like facing the headlight of an express train bearing down upon you.' He was an exponent of righteous anger. So the unrighteous trembled in his presence. But so did many other people. At his dinner parties he liked to give ladies fine gold trinkets. But they were scared of him too.


Morgan's presence was dominated, one might almost say lit up, by his large, red and swollen nose. This was the result of a chronic skin complaint, rhinophyma, of which he was painfully conscious. You had to keep your eyes off it — not easy. When Mrs Dwight Morrow, the young wife of one of his partners, had to entertain him to tea, she told her four-year-old daughter, Euphemia, not to stare at his nose and on no account to mention it. The little girl dutifully complied, and after she had sat on the great man's knee for a suitable period, her mother thankfully dismissed her to her nursery. Then she started pouring, and found herself saying: 'Mr Morgan, do you take nose in your tea?'


Conscious of visual authority, Morgan ran an open-plan office, and worked in full view of his staff, and they in his. He moved in an orderly and impressive routine. He had a succession of yachts, always called Corsair. When he arrived by liner from his biannual trips to Europe, his current Corsair picked him up in New York harbour and took him straight to his home, Cragston, on the Hudson. When the panic began in October 1907, Morgan was just coming up to 70 and had recently moved into his new mansion in New York, where his library was already looming down from the giant shelving. It was an impressive setting in which to confront the majestic tycoon. On Sunday 20 October he met first his partners, then leaders of the New York financial and business community, in a series of confidential groups, in which all were ordered to be frank. Having thus briefed himself on the size of the danger, he put together a team of clever young men to go through the accounts overnight, and see which of the big houses were too weak to survive and must go to the wall, and which could be saved. That done, he summoned the bankers and the US Treasury (there was then no central bank) and set about raising liquidity by authoritative gouging, lending the proceeds to those to be saved at 10 per cent. Once the US stock exchange knew the money was available, albeit at high rates, the panic began to subside, though it is interesting to note that the man who made this key announcement had his frock-coat and even his waistcoat torn in the tumult. One who watched Morgan throughout the crisis said: 'He was the embodiment of power and purpose.' Just by walking around the financial district, and raising his hat occasionally, Morgan had a reassuring effect. Seven years later the US Federal Reserve Bank was created to replace a single man by an institution.


A man like Morgan, who combines shrewdness and celerity in action with a lifetime's reputation for honesty, is of inestimable value, capable of saving society countless billions which an uncontrolled financial panic may cost. This set me thinking about worth and rewards. In Sesame and Lilies (1865) John Ruskin wrote: 'Which of us is to do the hard and dirty work for the rest — and for what pay? Who is to do the pleasant and clean work, and for what pay?' He did not answer his question — it was ironic and rhetorical. But in 1932 Bertrand Russell came up with a sort of answer: 'Work is of two kinds. First, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter. Second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid. The second is pleasant and highly paid.' Neither seer knew much about finance, though Russell wrote down everything he ever earned by writing or lecturing, in minute handwriting, in a small thick notebook (how one would like to see it!). But the complaints both men registered are generally shared, and are felt particularly strongly today. For the present turmoil comes after a long period when bankers have earned colossal sums in salaries and bonuses, and it is essentially the bankers, thanks to their misjudgment and greed, who have got us all into the mess, by lending large sums of money to improvident masses of people who could not afford to borrow it.


But here lies the paradox. There is no one alive today like J.P. Morgan, who can put the financial world to rights simply by his judgment, personality and reputation. But if there were such a person, how lucky we would be! And what we would be prepared to pay him to come to our rescue!

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Previously:

04/01/08: Quality for dinner. Pass the Fairy Liquid, Old Boy
03/25/08: In search of an American President with brains and guts
03/18/08: Technological warfare against mice won't work. Try cats
03/11/08: What is a genius? We use the word frequently but surely, to guard its meaning, we should bestow it seldom
03/03/08: Fiction as a crutch to get one through life
02/26/08: Impatience + Greed = Trouble
02/13/08: Shakespeare, Neo-Platonism and Princess Diana
02/07/08: Where Industry Has Failed Us
12/19/07: People who put their trust in human power delude themselves
12/12/07: What is aggression?
12/04/07: Pursuing success is not enough
11/07/07: Are famous writers accident-prone?
10/31/07: Courage needed to disarm Iran
09/20/07: Who Will Say ‘I Promise to Lay Off’?
07/24/07: Greed is safer than power-seeking
04/02/07: Benefactors must be hardheaded
03/07/07: American idealism and realpolitik
11/28/06: Space: Our ticket to survival
10/24/06: Envy is bad economics
10/11/06: Better to Borrow or Lend? Rethinking conventional wisdom
08/22/06: Don't practice legal terrorism
08/08/06: A summer rhapsody for a pedal-bike
08/03/06: Why is there no workable philosophy of music?
07/11/06: Historically speaking, energy crisis is America's opportunity
07/06/06: The misleading dimensions of persons and lives
06/06/06: First editions are not gold
05/23/06: A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones
04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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