Emilio Collado Oral History Interview, July 11, 1974

Oral History Interview with
Emilio Collado

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 11, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie

See Also July 7, 1971 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. [45]) 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 April, 1977
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri


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Oral History Interview with
Emilio Collado


New York, New York
July 11, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie


MCKINZIE: One thing that historians are interested in is why people go into Government work in the first place. You had academic training which qualifies you for an academic career. Why did you decide to go into Government work in the 1930s?

COLLADO: Well, I graduated from MIT in the depths of the depression, 1931, and I got a passable local job in Cambridge, with a printing and publishing firm. For a variety of reasons, I was able to do the graduate work at Harvard,


where I took a Ph.D. in economics. I was able to combine this with going to Harvard and it rather suited me and my boss, because we were very active in the printing and putting out of bulletins, publications and things about MIT and Harvard, and the connections didn't hurt any. I was able to moonlight on the boss' time to some extent.

By 1934, of course, a new Government had come in and we'd gone through important changes. I was getting restless and it really became a question that I had to make up my mind whether I was going to do professional stay in the printing business.


So, the time for decision came. At the time, my friends at Harvard, particularly Professor Taussig, brought to my attention two jobs almost simultaneously. By strange coincidence they were both in Washington and they were both with people named White. I can remember the Labor Day weekend. I was at my mother's home in upstate New York. I got a telegram, "Come to Washington for interviews," signed "White."

I went to Washington, then I had to find out after I got there which White it was that had sent the telegram. The White that had sent the telegram was Harry Dexter White, who has received a certain amount of acclaim over the years. He was then in the Monetary Research Department of the Treasury under Secretary [Henry J.] Morgenthau. They offered me an


interesting job and I took it. It was just about that simple.

MCKINZIE: How well did you get to know Harry Dexter White?

COLLADO: Well, at one point Mr. John Hooker and I were the only assistants to Harry White and in my first months in the Treasury I sat across one of these double desks from Harry White, staring at him all day long, or he was staring at me all day long. I got to know Harry quite well and I kept up the acquaintance. It wasn't a good social friendship, it was a business relationship. It lasted right through the period until after I'd left the IBRD and he was out of the IMF. I saw him within months of his death. I really knew him in some degree from 1934 until he died in the late



MCKINZIE: When World War II began, Harry Dexter White was involved very early in economic planning for the postwar period. As early as 1942, he had some conversations with the British and had done some work on postwar international financial institutions. Were you in contact with him and that group?

COLLADO: Oh, a little. Strangely enough, it was not exactly at the point you are referring to. A couple of years earlier I had been very closely involved with Harry on something that was a predecessor of the so-called "White plan," which was tossed out. I think it was the winter of '39-'40. I'm quite sure of my dates because my mother died during the period and I was commuting between the meetings I am going


to refer to and her sick bed in the hospital up in New York State during that period, and I remember it quite well from that point. We had a proposal before a body that was a predecessor of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council. It had a different name, the Inter-American Economic and Financial Advisory Committee. Sumner Welles, the Under Secretary of State and my boss, was the chairman. In that committee we had a proposal for an inter-American bank. We actually wrote a treaty for an inter-American bank which was signed by half the American Republics, including the United States, but it was never ratified. It's a long story as to why it was never ratified. Harry White was one of the principal authors of this with Adolf Berle, who was the Assistant


Secretary of State at the time. I got to do a great deal of the work and this was usually the rule. Actually a great deal of thought was put into an inter-American bank proposal at that time and it had some rather innovative aspects which never survived into the World Bank. It had access to the credit of the Federal Reserve System in a way that was never further put into some of the later proposals and maybe that's why it never got adopted. I think that it went into oblivion as an unratified treaty about 1941.

The work you're talking about came later. First was Article VII of the Lend-Lease Agreement, which urged the major allied nations to work together for postwar economic and social recovery and the other things in some very high class language. That was the product


of the State and Treasury Departments and a few imaginative fellows, including Oscar Cox, who was one of the draftsmen in that period. Dean Acheson was involved quite heavily and so were some other people. In any event, this gave rise in the State Department to an organization to work on postwar matters directed by Dr. Leo Pasvolsky, who was the special assistant to Secretary [Cordell] Hull. They created the political unit which was headed up by a fellow named Harley Notter, and an economic unit headed up by Leroy Stinebower.

Well, I started in the State Department by being the economist for the Latin American unit; that's what I was hired as and I became assistant chief of the American Republics Division. It was headed up at that time by Larry Duggan. It included such people as


Phil Bonsal and a number of others who stayed in the Latin American area. I was still an assistant chief of that division in 1940-41, when Sumner Welles asked me to become special assistant to the Under Secretary, and that title was my principal one for the period that he stayed in the Department. I had other titles as well.

I moved into the economic work from the Latin American side. Stinebower had been assistant to Herbert Feis, who was Economic Advisor, and we worked together but there was a certain separation. They covered the waterfront and I more or less did Latin America. They gradually let me do more and more of the Latin American work, which the economic people thought was kind of a secondary occupation.

The folks that were working on postwar


programs in the State Department were this Pasvolsky group. They became a sort of ivory tower and the rest of us worked at the day-to-day problems; and there was a considerable separation. They were regarded as the long hairs and we were those honest workers in the trenches.

In the Treasury, it didn't work that way. In the Treasury, as I gathered it, Harry White did everything, or rather the same people did everything. He didn't really have some sort of students and researchers over here and some operators over here. His team included a number of lawyers that were not directly in his department, but they were people he had worked closely with. The lawyers and the economic fellows that worked directly for him just did the planning in their spare time and they operated the rest of the time. It was


a little different in the State Department.

It wasn't until the departure of Sumner Welles that I moved into another phase of activity. I became chief of a financial office under Dean Acheson and I began to get into the financial planning; so my contribution came a little later. I wasn't very close to the very beginnings of the "White drafting."

After being very close to the Latin American phases, there were a couple of years when I didn't have much to do with it. I was doing export-import, that kind of thing. I was down at the Rio Conference fixing up economic deals to keep relations quiet and taking care of "arranging" the Peru and Ecuador boundary. Mr. Welles settled them, but I settled them in terms of the preparation of everything that he approved. I also settled


the famous dispute between the government of Bolivia and the Standard Oil Company. I'm not sure that my colleagues around here [Mr. Collado was speaking in his office in the Exxon Building] know that I settled that because they didn't like the settlement very much. Similarly, I had settled the whole Mexican expropriation of the Standard Oil Company, about two weeks before Pearl Harbor. Fortunately we did this because it was good to get it settled. I was doing this type of thing, I wasn't writing postwar plans, but when I got into the financial part, I had my range cut way down, but I had my geography expanded.

I did have some connection with these things that led to the Bretton Woods. Eventually I got very deeply involved, not in the Fund preparation, but in the Bank preparation. For


one reason or another Harry White wasn't much interested in the Bank. Initially, his people didn't do any work on the Bank, they worked on the Fund, whereas, John Maynard Keynes was very much interested in the Bank, and worked on it; and it became very clear to me that we weren't going to get many Latin American countries interested in the Fund. The Mexicans were always very much interested in the Fund and Minister of Finance [Eduardo] Suarez was the man who was very much interested. But looking across Latin America, I could see that we weren't going to get them into the Fund unless we coerced them, to use improper terms, by making membership in the Bank


conditional on membership of the Fund, which it is.

Consequently, a fellow named John Parke Young did a lot of work in this field. He worked with Stinebower and a fellow named Frederick Lindsey. Lindsey moved in with me as my deputy in the financial work. He was a much older man. He had been in the Department for years, and years, and was a very good man. A few of us came to the conclusion that more work had to be done on a Bank and I got quite active. I went to the conferences with the Canadians and some of the others and with Keynes when he came to Washington. Then I got very involved in the meeting at Atlantic City, which was almost exclusively devoted to working on the Fund. Then, at Bretton Woods it became obvious that something had to be done


on the Bank and I got told to do the Bank. The Bank was sort of a stepchild at the beginning days of Bretton Woods.

MCKINZIE: Eleanor Dulles said that she thought that the Bank and the Fund resulted from the need to accommodate White and Keynes; that there were such differences in the way they thought about organization and the whole scope of things.

COLLADO: Well, that's an element. I think my Latin American story is quite relevant also and a great many of us in the State Department were almost more interested in the Bank than the Fund. Some of the other people who stayed were very much involved in both of them.

At Bretton Woods after the first week,


which was just nothing but work on the Fund, the Bank had to be dealt with and the U.S. delegation, Edward Eagle Brown of the First National Bank of Chicago, Acheson, and I really were the principal workers on the Bank, whereas the big staff of highly technical qualified people all worked on the complicated provisions of the Fund. Harry White finally decided it was time he had to find out what was going on, and he sent around Harold Glasser to ask us what we were doing. It was a bigger division than you would have believed possible in a pretty tight organization. We went with the Secretary of the Treasury every day and it wasn't as though we were keeping anything secret from one another. The Fund had such complicated intellectual issues that they didn't pay much attention to the Bank, even


though they saw a great need for it.

COLLADO: We eventually got around, toward the end of the Bretton Woods Conference, to spending as much or more time on the Bank as we were on the Fund. There was this shifting emphasis that went through the period. It was an interesting experience. I think that the work basically has stood up quite well over the years. Any institution of this nature that lasts 25 years is quite miraculous to begin with.

MCKINZIE: There have been some people who have said that the Bank arrived with too little too late for the purposes of reconstruction.

COLLADO: The Bank was not much used for reconstruction. The Marshall plan was subsequently developed


for this purpose.

MCKINZIE: But a lot of people at the time thought the Bank would be able to do it.

COLLADO: That's correct. The limitations on the Bank were a political judgment as to what could be put through the Congress. In the U.S. delegation to Bretton Woods, more from the peripheral agencies rather than from State or Treasury, it was suggested that instead of the Bank having a possible 10 billion dollars (it wasn't that big, however, only three billion dollars), we should have a hundred billion dollars or somebody else wanted 30 billion. One very interesting fellow got very upset about this and would practically leave the room in tears because the amount was much too small. I think t