The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace

From the publisher

Shortly after arriving in the White House in early 1933, Franklin Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard. His opponents thought his decision unwise at best, and ruinous at worst. But they could not have been more wrong.

With The Money Makers, Eric Rauchway tells the absorbing story of how FDR and his advisors pulled the levers of monetary policy to save the domestic economy and propel the United States to unprecedented prosperity and superpower status. Drawing on the ideas of the brilliant British economist John Maynard Keynes, among others, Roosevelt created the conditions for recovery from the Great Depression, deploying economic policy to fight the biggest threat then facing the nation: deflation. 

Throughout the 1930s, he also had one eye on the increasingly dire situation in Europe. In order to defeat Hitler, Roosevelt turned again to monetary policy, sending dollars abroad to prop up the faltering economies of Britain and, beginning in 1941, the Soviet Union. FDR’s fight against economic depression and his fight against fascism were indistinguishable. As Rauchway writes, “Roosevelt wanted to ensure more than business recovery; he wanted to restore American economic and moral strength so the US could defend civilization itself.” The economic and military alliance he created proved unbeatable—and also provided the foundation for decades of postwar prosperity. Indeed, Rauchway argues that Roosevelt’s greatest legacy was his monetary policy. Even today, the “Roosevelt dollar” remains both the symbol and the catalyst of America’s vast economic power. 

The Money Makers restores the Roosevelt dollar to its central place in our understanding of FDR, the New Deal, and the economic history of twentieth-century America. We forget this history at our own peril. In revealing the roots of our postwar prosperity, Rauchway shows how we can recapture the abundance of that period in our own.


Rauchway tells this important story with passion, intelligence and style.… The major players come alive.… The Money Makers is economic and diplomatic history of the first order. It tells a crucially important story about a central development in the world economy, the emergence of the modern monetary system. And it tells this story with sensitivity to the economic, diplomatic and political environment. Anyone with even a passing interest in international economic affairs will benefit from reading this intelligent, timely and thoroughly accessible book. And perhaps today’s policy makers — especially contemporary advocates of orthodox austerity sitting in Berlin — can learn something from the story Eric Rauchway tells so well.

Jeffry Frieden, The New York Times Book Review

… this work is impressive. Mr Rauchway combines three things that you seldom see in economic-history books: sufficient attention to complexity; a solid grasp of the economics; and writing that is enjoyable to read. Barely a page goes by without some lovely detail …

The Economist

Rauchway’s thoughtful, well-researched narrative history is a valuable contribution to economic history, with ample lessons for the current era.

Publishers Weekly

A compelling examination of a still-vilified monetary policy that has continued to show results in spite of conservative criticism.


If you think the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing after the Great Recession of 2009 was unusual and controversial, wait until you hear about what Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s. Eric Rauchway has given us a lucid and penetrating account of the monetary policies of the New Deal and how it helped to bring about economic recovery from the Great Depression.

Douglas Irwin, Professor of Economics, Dartmouth College

Eric Rauchway’s The Money Makers is one of the very best books to read to understand our economy today. It tells the story of how Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the people who worked for him pragmatically—experimenting with institutional redesign, reinforcing success, dropping failure, focusing on what worked—refuted via action the ideologues of the left and the right who to this day condemn his New Deal as ineffective or destructive.

Brad DeLong, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Monetary policy got the United States into the Great Depression, but monetary policy also got it out. Eric Rauchway brings that tale alive by describing the adventures of two most unlikely monetary escape artists: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Maynard Keynes. The 1930s will never look the same.

Barry Eichengreen, author of Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses—and Misuses—of History

In this persuasive work, Eric Rauchway not only proves that monetary policy should be central to our understanding of the Roosevelt administration in depression and war, but also shows how that story should be told. With an engaging narrative and sharp argument, The Money Makers stands as a compelling read.

Kevin M. Kruse, author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America