1960s Economics & Finance Development Timeline

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 1964
(Everett: fineartamerica.com)


  • Walt W. Rostow publishes The Stages of Economic Growth: a non-communist manifesto
  • Foreign bank deposits in American banks. and overseas US Treasury obligations stand at over $20 billion, up from $8 billion in 1950; threatens US gold stocks (R. Triffin, 1960)
  • Arthur Seldon publishes Not Unanimous, a response to The Report of the Committee on the Working of the [British] Monetary System (commonly known as “The Radcliffe Report”), the zenith of Keynesian economics and government policy issued in 1959.


  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME or “The Merc”) launches first futures contract on frozen, stored meats (frozen pork bellies, bacon)
  • First of several separate researchers presents a formula for evaluating the value/pricing of a single stock or portfolio in terms of risk-reward; becomes known as the Capital Asset Pricing Model or “CAPM.” Authors include John Treynor (1961); William Sharpe (1964); John Lintner (1965); and Jan Mossin (1966)
  • The Federal Reserve and seven European central banks form “the London Gold Pool” to coordinate sales and purchases of gold to keep the Bretton Woods System of fixed-rate convertible currencies at US$35 per troy ounce of gold (November); collapses in 1968 (March 7).
  • Certifcates of Deposit first originated in New York; dollar CDs first issued in London by Citibank on 13 May 1966.


  • Stock market drops drastically, ending 1949-61 bull run.
  • “General Agreements to Borrow” arranged by G-10 countries with $6 billion, whereby the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could borrow funds from these countries’ central banks for temporary loans to countries experiencing economic distress. Phased out in 2018.
  • Kennedy Tax Cuts: the President proposes on television a “permanent, basic reform and reduction of our rate structure” (August 13); results in the Revenue Act of 1964 https://youtu.be/aEdXrfIMdiU


  • Milton Friedman & Anna Schwartz publish A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960
  • The physicist and historian Derek de Solla Price (1922-1983) develops the idea of unequal production of literature among authors in a given subject area.  What becomes “Price’s Law” (below) states that half of all papers/books on a topic are produced by the square root of the number of authors. Price, a physicist, attempted to apply this idea to science. For a broad application of Price’s Law of Production, see https://expressingthegeniuswithin.com/prices-law-and-how-it-applies-to-everything/  https://expressingthegeniuswithin.com/prices-law-and-how-it-applies-to-everything/



  • Federal Reserve issues “Regulation M” that allows American banks to more readily establish overseas operations; 600 branches of 29 banks opened by 1972 totaling roughly $110 billion (Davies, 1996).



  • CME offers its first agricultural futures contracts on a non-storable commodity – live cattle!
  • Postwar Trade Surplus peaks at $6.8 billion; falls to $600 million by 1969 (P. Bernstein, 2000)
  • Congress passes The Interest Equalization Tax (September) to discourage US investment abroad by taxing interest on financial assets held in foreign currencies.



  • President of France, Charles de Gaulle, holds a news conference for 1000 journalists in the gilded Elysees Palace to demand a return to the 19th century gold standard (Feb. 4). Hailed by the French economist, Jacques Rueff as “the statesman who will restore true money.” Shortly thereafter, France makes front-page news (New York Times) when it announced it would take physical possession of any gold from dollar conversions into US gold, with the specie traveling by ship to the Bank of France, rather than stay on account at the Federal Reserve of New York, as most countries did. By early 1965, America’s share of the world’s total monetary gold stock had shrunk by a third from its peak of $25 billion in 1949.
  • For the first time, private buying of gold exceeds mine supply; forces central banks to sell into the market to hold price
  • Coinage Act of 1965 (July 23): eliminates silver from US dimes & quarters; reduces silver % content of half-dollars from 90 to 40; half dollar silver eliminated in 1970.
  • UK government adopts formal support for the metric system in financial affairs: abandons their historic shillings and pence.



  • Competitors to VISA (originally BankAmericard issued by BofA in 1958) form the Interbank Card Association (ICA) which later became Mastercard International that issued in 1966 its eponymous product, originally called the Master Charge card,



  • South Africa introduces the Krugerrand one-ounce gold coin.



  • The CBOT starts trading its first non-grain-related commodity – futures on iced broilers (chickens!)
  • Turning Point for Gold: Central Banks stop trying to defend a fixed gold price at $35 per troy ounce (“Gold Pool”), and left the price of gold to private parties to determine (to “float”) in the free market (March 15)
  • Historic 12-year bull market in gold begins: starts at $35/oz; by January 1980, at $850.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman William McChesney Martin makes a speech in Detroit hinting the United States was “on the road to devaluation” of the dollar in terms of gold (March 20); London gold price spikes to $41.


  • The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) begins trading its first non-agricultural product, a silver futures contract.
  • The IMF creates a new form of international reserves: units of account called Special Drawing Rights or “SDRs” to supplement shortfall of preferred foreign exchange reserve assets, namely gold and U.S. dollars. Value based on a weighted basket of international currencies.


  • Silver in half dollars phased out by the Coinage Act of 1965.
  • Ten largest banks in the world, ranked by capital, were American; by 1980 only two remained in top 10.
  • The International Commercial Exchange founded in New York to trade currency contracts in anticipation of Bretton Woods system folding; trumped by CME’s exchange in 1972.


  • President Nixon appoints (Dem) John Connally as Treasury Secretary to solve gold “problem.”
  • Last straw, August 9: British asked for $3 billion in gold.
  • Gold Demonetized: Sunday night broadcast to the nation, August 15 (preempting Bonanza): Nixon ends the convertibility of dollars into gold to governments and central banks [closes “the Gold Window”]; ends the Bretton Woods System; starts era of fiat currency https://youtu.be/4-cB1Z9qceI
  • Nixon announces New Economic Policy: freeze on wages and prices for 90 days, business tax cuts, reductions in gov’t spending, and a 10% surcharge on half of US imports.
  • Establishment of the World Economic Forum (WEF), originally the European Management Forum
  • Michael Milken starts Drexel’s junk bond funding option: fuels new avenues of financing in Go-Go 1980s: e.g., Turner Broadcasting (CNN), and Mirage Resorts.
  • The Smithsonian Agreement between the “Group of Ten” major economies devalues the dollar in relation to gold and starts the idea of managed float in currencies (Dec). Allows official price of dollar/gold to drop c. 10% to $38/oz.



  • President Nixon creates the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)within the Department of Commerce to supply official macroeconomic and industry data for policymakers.
  • Leo Malamed launches the world’s first financial futures exchange, called the International Monetary Market (IMM), as part of the Chicago Merc; offers futures contracts on seven foreign currencies (May 16).
  • Honda exports its popular “Civic” car to the United States; signals Japan’s final revival after the Second World War, new competition for the United States, and the effectiveness of the gold-dollar standard of the Bretton Woods Agreements of 1944 to revive the former Axis Powers in record time.


  • Fischer Black and Myron Scholes of the University of Chicago introduce a system by which to price options; leads to increasingly rational methods of pricing derivatives (Journal of Political Economy, May/June)
  • The Act to Amend the Par Value Modification Act of 1973 (September 21, 1973) lowers the par value of the dollar against gold from $35 to $42.2222 where it remains today.


  • Congress passes P.L. 93-373 that allows Americans to own gold for the first time since May 1933.
  • The New York Commodity Exchange (COMEX) launches first gold futures contract; based on a 100-oz contract, with prices quoted in multiples of ten cents per ounce (December 31, 1974).
  • Jack Bogle (1920-2019) fired as CEO of Wellington Management Co; with a career in shambles, goes on to become the father of low-cost index investing as head of the Vanguard Group, inspired by ideas of Paul Samuelson.
  • Congress establishes minimum standards for pension plans for private companies with the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act” (ERISA) in response to the Studebaker Corporation closing its doors in 1963 without adequate provisions for employees.  Leads to development of defined-contribution plans in IRS sections 401(k) and 403(b).
  • In response to the OPEC oil embargo, the USG (c. January) prints Gas Ration Stamps (right); which were never issued.
  • Inflation rate reaches 10% (Fed. Reserve of Richmond Review 8, 1; G. Davies, 1996, p. 529)
  • (June 9) Secretary of the Treasury William Simon achieves a 50-year deal with Saudi Arabia in which the United States would buy Saudi oil in exchange for American military aid and equipment. The Saudis agreed to plow back the money made from oil (“petrodollars”) into US Treasuries to fund American debt. Reinforces the dollar as the world’s reserve currency – this time based on oil and gas, rather than on gold which was abandoned on August 15, 1971 (July). Expired on June 9, 2024.


  • SEC abolishes fixed commissions on equities and mutual funds (“May Day”); exchange volumes soar, 35 brokers disappear same year, discount brokers are born; fascinating documents leading to May Day available at http://www.sechistorical.org/museum/papers/1970/
  • The Vanguard Company founded (May 1); revolutionizes mutual fund investing
  • CBOT launches first interest rate futures, a contract on the Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMAs”).



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