Oral History Interview with
Economic Analyst, U.S. Treasury Department, 1934-36; economist, Federal Reserve Bank, New York, 1936-38; with Department of State, 1938-46, assistant chief, Division of American Republics, 1940, special assistant to Under Secretary of State, 1941-44, executive secretary, Board of Economic Operations, 1941-43, associate advisor for International Economic Affairs, 1943-44, chief, Division of Financial and Monetary Affairs, 1944-45, director, Office of Financial and Development Policy, 1945-46; U.S. executive director, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1946-47; trustee, Export-Import Bank, Washington, 1944-45.
New York, New York
July 7, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson and Richard D. McKinzie
See Also July 11, 1974 interview
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened August, 1980
Harry S. Truman Library
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Oral History Interview with
New York, New York
July 7, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson and Richard D. McKinzie
COLLADO: We have a tendency over the years to slant your own history. I guess you are familiar with this.
WILSON: Well, it's understandable.
COLLADO: You tend to make things more interesting than they actually were. You jazz them up a little bit if you're not careful.
WILSON: Yes. And along with that there's an understandable problem of trying to sort out views that you may have held in 1945 and to separate those from views about the same problem you may have held in 1955. We found that to be a
COLLADO: It's a good sign though if people once in a while develop over the 10 or 20 years. That I guess, is encouraging as far as their human development is concerned.
WILSON: We find these interviews particularly useful in sorting out relationships because often the papers, though they're absolutely necessary, they don't tell you exactly how decisions were made and from what point to what point. Perhaps, I can begin by asking you to briefly describe -- insofar as you can, to recall -- your responsibilities as Chief of the Division of Financial and Monetary Affairs.
COLLADO: What period is that...
WILSON: This is '44-'45.
COLLADO: Let me go back a little before that. I
took graduate work at Harvard after getting an undergraduate degree at MIT. In 1934, I went to the Treasury Department as a financial analyst on the international side. They had a very small staff and I was the principal assistant, at that time to Harry Dexter White, a man you've heard something about, who was the principal international man in what was then a very small staff. It later developed and he became Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
I left there in 1936 and went to work at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with John Williams who was both a professor at Harvard and a vice-president of the Bank. Again, I was on the international side and I, in the Fed, had responsibility at one time or another for Latin America and the Far East primarily, but I also got involved in a number of general studies of capital movements, impact on inflation in the United States, inflows of
capital and that sort of thing -- serious problems in the middle and late thirties.
In 1937, I was lent to the Bank of Mexico for about three months. In 1938, I was lent to the Federal Reserve Board and I operated there a very small international section for three months while the regular people, Goldenweiser, who was the Director of Research, and Walter Gardner, who was the international man, were touring Europe. I ran the show in their absence. It was during that period that Larry Duggan, who was in the State Department on the Latin American side, invited me to become the economist at the Latin American Division.
I went to the State Department in the fall of '38. This got me involved in the sort of thing we have been discussing earlier, because this Public Law 63 I was referring to had its primary application in Latin America and it was a limited aid program. It was more
technical assistance. Then, simultaneously, we had a program to construct the Pan American Highway at least as far as Panama. The Export-Import Bank, which had been created in 1934 initially for trade with Russia -- the second Export-Import Bank was created to trade with other places -- began to move, and in 1938, they made their first development loan to Haiti, of all places, and it got to be quite a Latin American program. So, I got involved very early. I was there on the ground floor. Warren Pearson was then the head of the Export-Import Bank and we had some interesting times.
In 1941, I became special assistant to Sumner Welles, who was the Under Secretary of State. I did his Latin American work on the economic side. Then with Pearl Harbor I picked up a lot of economic warfare functions and, eventually, I became, really, in charge of the proclaimed list, with a good deal of the
shipping problems, a good deal of the trading with the enemy type of problems, as well as what development work we had.
We didn't have so much development work during that period. But I really did a little of everything. We had a small staff initially and we doubled in brass. Even before that, when I was in the Treasury, I had been the Treasury's member, maybe not officially but the actual fellow who went to the meetings of the old trade agreements committee and negotiated the trade agreements. So for a long time I had done a little of everything. In, it must have been 1942, Mr. Welles resigned and left the State Department.
MCKINZIE: '43, I think.
COLLADO: '43. You're right, it was about August, it was in the hot season I remember. Mr. Cordell Hull asked me to stay on and do a
variety of things. I didn't change my job much, but in the big reorganization that we labeled the Edward Stettinius reorganization, they set up an economic organization under Dean Acheson. Dean had been doing something in the economic field from about '41 on, or '42, but they had this big reorganization and he was the principal economic man at that time. Adolf Berle was still around; he was more into finance. And I got a division called Financial and Development Policy or something like that, which included such work as State had in the monetary field, where we obviously were very much second to the Treasury; and the development of the International Monetary Fund was a piece of this. I also had what was called "development" and that was more the banks -- the World Bank eventually -- but also the Export-Import Bank. For a long time it was the only U.S. vehicle. Then, in addition to that, I had a great deal to do with
the settlement of lend-lease. Not so much the positive implementation of the programs but really the financial aspects of it and the settlement. I really had a great deal to do with the settlement of lend-lease.
But then I had something to do with surplus property disposal boards. At one time Tom McCabe was in there and Will Clayton had that for awhile before he came to the State Department, and a variety of other things.
Now, I guess it was in my capacity as Chief of this Financial and Monetary Affairs and Development division -- that I got up to my ears in what eventually became the Bretton Woods Conference. This had a fairly long history of relationships between Lord Keynes and Harry White, in particular, with others in the State Department. Initially, the principal State Department man in this was Leo Pasvolsky, but Leroy Stinebower, who was with
this company for many years and only retired a year ago, was much involved in it as well as Fred Livesay and some other people.
Backtracking to when I was with Sumner Welles, at one point they had an economic reorganization and they merged me with Herbert Feis, who was the Advisor on Economic Affairs. I became Associate Advisor and so I had that as well as the Latin American thing. It was a very messy picture if you go back and look at it organizationally. But we dabbled in all kinds of things and it was a smaller department in those days. I guess the Secretary or the Under Secretary would call you on the phone and say, "Do that," and you did it.
One thing I skipped is in the period when I was definitely doing Latin America alone, '39 and '40. I went first to a conference of ministers of finance in Guatemala in 1939 and I got very mixed up as the alternate member of
something called the "Inter-American Economic" something, I don't know [Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee]. It became eventually the "Inter-American ECOSOC," but it had a different name in those days; it was the precursor of the Inter-American Economic Board. Mr. Welles was the American member and I was his alternate and I attended a great many meetings in his stead. Adolf Berle attended some and Harry White of the Treasury went to some. There was a proposal for an Inter-American Bank which was developed to the point of a signed treaty with, oh, a dozen or more of the American republics signing it. It failed of ratification in the Senate. I had quite a bit to do with that. It almost made it. Carter Glass came out of his sick bed and killed it, and it never got off the ground. In some respects it was a precursor of some of these other things. In fact, I think it was it in part that probably
gave Harry White the notion of having what eventually became the World Bank.
Well, then subsequently, just to finish up the history of my career such as it is, there was a further reorganization when Will Clayton became Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, which, as I recall, was in the very end of 1944. Now, the Bretton Woods Conference was in the summer of 1944 and Will Clayton was not yet in the State Department. He was still in Commerce where he'd been with Jesse Jones and then he became some kind of a surplus property administrator when Jesse Jones left the Government. Jesse Jones had also the title of Federal Loan Administrator and the RFC, and the Ex-Im Bank and other things. All of those corporations came under Jesse, the metal reserve and the other procurement companies during the war. Will was his deputy and really ran that set of things for Jesse. He wasn't really in the
Commerce Department. He was in the RFC hierarchy, the loan agency.
Well, I'd seen a great deal of him because I was, for a period, the State Department member of the old Export-Import Bank Board when they had a board of representatives. Then after the 1945 act, Clayton was the State Department member and I used to be his alternate; but I was kind of an illicit alternate because I was not confirmed for the purpose by the Senate. I used to go to the meetings and then they'd call up Will and get him to vote. Bill Martin was the chairman in that period.
Well, the only thing I wanted to say -- and I won't take up more of your time with this history -- is that when Will came in after the Bretton Woods Conference (they reorganized the economics thing again -- I think I was subject to something like 40 reorganizations while I was in the State Department; it was an incredible
series of changes), I became his second deputy. Will [Willard] Thorp was his general deputy and I became the deputy for, I forget what they called it, financial affairs or something like that, and I continued this same range of things, banks, monetary funds, lend-lease, and aid -- whatever it was -- and I stayed in that job until I left the State Department.
In 1946, I was named Executive U.S. Director of the World Bank and I was the first one. I had hoped to do that from the State Department; but I didn't and I don't know that I'll go into the exact reasons for that. But I stayed on full-time as Executive Director of the World Bank until February, 1947 when I resigned and left the Government, and I haven't been back to the Government in any permanent, formal capacity since. But that covered a range of things.
WILSON: To get it on the record, you were referring
before we began to this memorandum that you wrote…
COLLADO: That came after I left, just shortly after, I spent about six months freelancing, the first of them mostly in bed with the chicken pox. I had had a hard, long, strenuous Government career and I decided I didn't want to make up my mind too quickly what I was going to do next. I had a very enjoyable six months and did quite well, actually, in economic terms, doing a little freelancing at no profit for my good friend who was then Under Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, and once in a while wrote him a memorandum. This one was one of them.
Now I came to this company the day after Labor Day, September, 1947. I said I didn't have any connections with Government after February but that's not entirely true. In August of that year, Mr. Clayton cabled me
urgently from Geneva and asked if I would sit in on a negotiation with the British Government. These strange things happen, but they were simultaneously having the Havana Conference on economic affairs, something was going on in Geneva, and the British came over to negotiate with the United States the abrogation of their promise of convertibility of sterling. And Will first asked whether I would go to Havana, and then the British thing came up and he said, "Well, we'd rather have you stay in Washington because you were involved in all the British loan negotiations and all that business."
So for two weeks I was the State Department member of the negotiating team and, to my great surprise, they made me the Chairman of the Working Committee and I wasn't on the payroll at all. I think they gave me a per diem or something, but I was quite surprised.
This I did the last two weeks. I actually left on Labor Day and flew up here to take my new job in this company the day after Labor Day, which I may say completely disrupted my August vacation.
MCKINZIE: Yes, I can see that might have been, after your involvement with the British loan and particularly with Bretton Woods, perhaps a fitting way of leaving the Government?
COLLADO: Well, actually in a sense it was rather interesting, and I was rather flattered that they asked me to come back and do this.
WILSON: One problem that we find in the written material about preparations for the postwar world -- anticipations about what the United State