Return to Jekyll Island

Brian Hicks

Updated November 13, 2010

Welcome to the Wealth Daily Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in investing and links to our most-read Wealth Daily and sister publication articles.

In the end, the crooks always return to the scene of the crime.

Just days after announcing a $600 billion money drop, the members of the Federal Reserve retreated to the place where it all began: Jekyll Island, Georgia. Only this go-round was nothing like the covert operation that took place 100 years ago…

This time it was just a bunch of backslapping as Bernanke and Co. spent the weekend hidden in plain sight, celebrating themselves as the smartest guys in the room.

Back to where it all started

For this, we have the most expensive hunting trip in history to thank.

You see, while you didn’t learn this in school, the Federal Reserve Bank actually began in a New Jersey train station on a November night shrouded in secrecy.

Leaving from the Hoboken Railway station in 1910 were a group of the nation’s leading financiers, along with a handful of powerful Washington insiders and their staff members.

And while a few reporters suspiciously witnessed the gathering of these big wigs, none of them bothered to report on it. These men, they were told, were simply going “duck hunting.”

But ducks had nothing to do with it…

Leading the secret trip to Georgia was Senator Nelson Aldrich, head of the National Monetary Commission. Joining him were A. Piatt Andrew, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury; Frank Vanderlip, President of National City Bank of New York; Henry P. Davison, senior partner of J.P. Morgan Company (generally regarded as Morgan’s personal emissary); Charles D. Norton, President of the First National Bank of New York; Benjamin Strong, a known Lieutenant of J.P. Morgan; and Paul Warburg, a recent immigrant from Germany who had joined the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb and Company of New York as a partner.

And while you may not recognize any of these names, they were among the most powerful and well-known men of their day. Together they represented approximately a quarter of all the world’s wealth.

On an island off the coast of Georgia, the nation’s banking system changed forever… Once ensconced in their private and discreet playground, the rich and the powerful went to work creating the plan that would eventually become the Federal Reserve Bank.

So it was out of these secret meetings that the control of the nation’s money supply was handed over to the very bankers and private corporations that earlier generations of Americans — including Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson — found to be so onerous.

Some three years after that now famous “hunting trip,” the plan conceived on Jekyll Island became law.

On December 22, 1913, while many members of Congress were celebrating Christmas at home, the Federal Reserve Act was rammed through Congress, and later signed into law by President Wilson.

Ideas have consequences

We have been at the mercy of their printing presses ever since… Which is why the greenback will continue to twist in the wind, no matter how much Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner talk about a strong dollar policy.

You see, for them and their banker friends, there is really only one cure for this mess: Inflation today, tomorrow, and likely forever.

That’s why the price of commodities is edging higher across the board. Meanwhile, smart investors work to hedge themselves against these same characters, their grand plans born in some conference room.

One way to beat them at their own game is to simply buy gold — which our precious metals expert, Luke Burgess, says still has “plenty of room to the upside.” And he’s not alone on that one…

Just a few weeks ago, investment powerhouse Goldman Sachs predicted gold will rally more that 20 percent to $1,650 an ounce in a year, simply on further quantitative easing and the prospect for falling long-term interest rates.

That to me — considering the Fed’s game plan —  is practically a given. After all, there’s no end in sight to what started on that hunting trip a hundred years ago…

By the way, since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the purchasing power of a 1913 dollar is now worth exactly five cents.

If that’s not highway robbery, I don’t know what is…

As for some places to invest your money as the next bubble forms, here are a few of the best investment ideas from the pages of this week’s top-read Wealth Daily and Energy & Capital articles.

Have a great weekend.

Your bargain-hunting analyst,

steve sig

Steve Christ
Editor, Wealth Daily


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