Ladies and gentlemen, take a bow.
Think about how much better America’s economy is today, and that of all the nations of the world, it was once rated as the worst. Then think about how the United States — thanks to the men and women in uniform — was once rated as the best. Those men and women have fought and sacrificed for us, not to mention at various stages had positions of leadership in our state and federal government.
That is a pretty jaw-dropping statement about a conflict that began in Europe some 1,000 years ago. It was that conflict that triggered World War I and ushered in the First World War in the next decade, which led to World War II and ultimately the Cold War. This is of course all history: This is hardly the first time that one event has been used to justify another.
But that history is the backdrop of a new book by Conrad Black, “Great Guns.” The book, Black’s third for Tronc Inc. (Tronc), tells the tale of the United States’ economic response during World War I and the ensuing Cold War, and how a crisis that lasted for just 12 months transformed the country.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the massive expenditure on both sides that was the cause of America’s economic recovery, but rather the aggressive plan put in place by Roosevelt. But many years ago, most people still would not have believed this.
Black says: “The leadership of our government, including Roosevelt, Roosevelt’s army, and the courage of the people had far greater influence on the economy than the ‘war on the gold standard.’”
Another untold story is how the civilian leadership — the more than 30 men of the Civilian Conservation Corps — played a huge role in fueling our current economic recovery. The CCC’s purpose was to “improve the environment” with a trillion dollars in public works projects to make it a more livable place.
Under Roosevelt’s leadership and direction, the men of the CCC became the heroes. They were called the “Baby Yankees” because of their children’s enthusiasm for what their parents were doing. Their sparkled from the Civilian Conservation Corps that is visible today.
Early on in the war, each of us grew up with stories about baseball. As I remember from my childhood, Babe Ruth was known as the “Babe of the Bronx.” And it was probably this nation’s Civilian Conservation Corps that inspired me to play baseball.
Now, let’s talk about baseball.
The weather might have been cold during World War I. But nobody could fault the Bronx Bombers for their performance.
Sometimes history is best told with baseball. We are sure to remember the improbable do-or-die contest that brought the New York Yankees, the bandit-loving Boston Red Sox and their extraordinary manager, Harry Frazee, to the famed “Impossible Dream” summer game in August. There was a showdown between the Red Sox and New York Yankees to win a pennant. Then there was the 1921 World Series which was the “Coney Island Series.” A mud bank in Brooklyn completely flooded the diamond, but both teams had to play.
When the battle began, it was a close game until all six Red Sox pitchers combined to pitch over 40 innings. The Yankee captain, Babe Ruth, brought his bat and glove to the field but decided to bat as a pitcher. All of which is part of the lore of baseball.
Each of us grew up with stories about baseball. And there was nothing more exciting than the final game of the World Series when four teams would square off. It was simply “The World Series.”
The point is that the U.S. economy persevered through World War I and the following years. Today, it is the best economy in the world. It was through similar economic shocks that it was the greatest country of the world. America was a part of history.
Donald Trump has had to deal with multiple wars and financial crises. This is no time to pretend that success requires dodging bullets. Rather, Donald Trump is making us a part of history and a different America. It’s all part of the job.
Paul I. Mercurio is an active investor specializing in research, forex and derivatives trading for institutional clients in the United States and internationally. He is also the Chief Analyst at Directional Trading LLC.