BY JAMES P. PROUT
of course, was the critical battleground
between the two sides. Steil goes deep
into the thrust and parry between the
USSR and United States in the vanquished
and divided former Reich. General Lucius
Clay—the tough talking Military Gover-
nor of occupied West Germany—gets his
due, as do others who orchestrated the
famed Berlin Airlift.
Although more modest and less open
ended, the final legislation was signed in
1948, and Marshall aid flowed until 1952.
This was accompanied by more “ener-
getic” efforts to sway Europeans towards
the United States, by influencing public
opinion and complementing economic
assistance with military support through
Maybe it’s my inner nerd, but I wish
Mr. Steil had gone more into detail on
how Marshall Plan assistance was actu-
ally delivered. We didn’t just hand the
participating countries money or food
or machinery. There is some discussion
of the “counterpart funds” mechanism,
but I wanted more on how capital forma-
tion was reconstituted locally. I’ll grant
Steil this small omission, since he answers
every geeks wish with a cast of characters
and nutshell biography of anyone who
had anything to do with the story. Some-
how, even Al Gore makes the cut.
Over the years, the Marshall Plan has
taken on talismanic qualities. If there is
a problem, let’s do a Marshall Plan. The
author recognizes this and asks: did it
really work? On pure economic or finan-
cial measurements, it’s not crystal clear
that the Marshall Plan alone galvanized
European economies. But the Plan had
more complex ambitions, which com-
bined America’s bent toward a peaceful
Europe, a desire for healthy markets and
a fundamental impulse against aggres-
sive Russian Communism. On that level,
the Plan was a resounding success. Steil’s
book is, too.
James P. Prout is a lawyer with 30+ years
of capital market experience. He is now
a consultant to some of the world’s big-
gest corporations. He can be reached at
Wall Street Walks takes visitors through the historic capital
of world finance — the one-square-mile of downtown Manhattan
known as “Wall Street.” Our visitors learn about people, places and
events comprising over 200 years of history, as they walk among
locations where it all happened.
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www.MoAF.org | Fall 2018 | FINANCIAL HISTORY 35