No, Alexander Hamilton is still that Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the father of the United States banking system. That guy on the $10 bill. The one and only, Alexander Hamilton.
But thanks to the run-away success of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”, my kids, who now have a full-blown outbreak of “Hamilton Fever”, know a shocking amount of history on a revolutionary era figure who wasn’t even president. I’d be surprised if they could even name two or three more people from that era period?!?
Yet, they know where and when he was born, his family history, his professions, all of his suitors, the sisters, their rivalry, Hamilton’s son, how he died and they can recount a number of the interactions he had with Aaron Burr, including their duel. In all honesty, I often forget who won that duel, so on that matter, they actually knew more than me...
Now, I am getting a little tired of the repeat lyrics, but, they’re learning and they don’t even know it. Sort of the modern day equivalent to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. Those lyrics are a history lesson unto themselves.
I love that my kids are engaged and it’s great to see such interest in such an impactful historical figure.
Back to Hamilton briefly. Almost everything he did set the stage for American capitalism to become American capitalism. From his penning of many of the Federalist Papers and their advocacy for a strong central government, particularly in matters of finance, to his ideas around the federal government assuming the debt of the states after the Revolutionary war, to his recognition of the need to set up both a central bank and regional banks that would help build prosperity across the nation, he really deserves the praise he gets and I’m glad he was spared removal from the $10 bill.
There are many ways in which today's Treasury, Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve System play a very important role in keeping the United States economy moving forward at a stable and steady pace. The business of money can at times become highly politicized, but Hamilton laid a solid bedrock.
As investment managers, we do watch and pay attention to what the Federal Reserve says and does and we try to manage the risks that some of their actions might trigger, but generally we take the long view and invest in a diversified and balanced way for whatever decisions the Fed makes.
For some in our industry, watching and predicting Fed moves is a sport, which I suspect Hamilton would approve of knowing that we no longer duel when we disagree about inflation, interest rates or the debt. Federal Reserve TV anyone?