Learn what happened in business in today’s past
1985: The value of the U.S. dollar hits a modern record high relative to the German mark and other foreign currencies -- giving a huge tailwind to American investments in foreign stocks over the next decade.
1927: The McFadden Act (also known as the McFadden-Pepper Act), which prohibits nationally-chartered banks from opening branches outside their home states, becomes Federal law.
1862: Pres. Abraham Lincoln signs the Legal Tender Act, putting the U.S. government in the business of printing paper money. (Previously, most money had been printed privately by local banks.) The Act also authorizes the Treasury to sell 6% bonds callable in five years, maturing in 20, which are quickly nicknamed 5-20s. Philadelphia broker Jay Cooke devises what he calls the democratic distribution of investments, slicing the 5-20s into denominations as small as $50, advertising them heavily in local newspapers, and hiring his own army of 2,500 traveling agents to sell them in towns throughout the Union. He raises $361 million in less than two years -- and introduces tens of thousands of Americans to investing for the first time.
Jack Weatherford, The History of Money (Crown, New York, 1997), p. 171; Richard H. Hoenig, Selling Uncle Sam, Friends of Financial History, no. 45 (Spring, 1992), p. 7; Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, A History of Interest Rates (Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1991 ed.), p. 308.