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The United States no longer is a capitalist country. It has created a new economic system that appears to be capitalist but no longer performs the functions of capitalism. Capitalism is a system in which wealth is created and sustained by the production of goods and services determined through market supply and demand. A variety of related structures support capitalism, including the institutions of finance, which provide the funds necessary for the production and trade of goods and services.
While capitalism still characterizes a portion of the US economy, it has become subordinated to a new economic order. This economic system is one in which the financial markets exist primarily to serve themselves. In this system, capital is raised for the purpose of creating, selling and trading securities and derivative securities that do not finance industry but rather trade within markets that exist as an economy unto themselves. At the same time, those markets have profound and adverse effects on the real economy. This new economic system is Financialism.
On Tuesday afternoon, December 2, 1913, Thomas W. Lamont and Louis D. Brandeis met for a three-hour luncheon at the University Club in New York. The famous Pujo Committee hearings had reached their controversial end, convincing many Americans that the accusations of Brandeis and others as to the existence of a Money Trust were right. The Money Tust appeared as a small group of mostly New York bankers centered on the House of Morgan. It allegedly controlled corporate America and its access to capital by placing its members on the boards of many of the nation's largest corporations.
Lamont was a relatively new partner of J. P. Morgan and Co. Like his partners, he served as a director of a number of corporations in which interlocking bank directorates had been exposed by the Pujo investigations. Within just a few years, he would take effective leadership of the Morgan firm and become perhaps the most prominent financier of his generation.
The conversation was polite, as befitted both the setting and the character of the two men. Needless to say, they disagreed about much. The most interesting turn in the conversation came during Brandeis's remarks about the potential conflicts of interest created by the fact that many of the same men sat on the boards of competing corporations. Passing the point in complete disagreement with Lamont's response, Brandeis took a different tack, questioning Lamont as to the sheer physical ability of Morgan's men to do their work as directors: