Benjamin Graham, 1894-1976.

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Benjamin Graham was a partner in a financial investment firm in the 1920s when, suddenly, it was ruined with the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Working part-time as a professor of finance at Columbia, Graham authored his wildly successful book on financial analysis, Security Analysis (1934) with David Dodd. In this book, Graham laid out the principles of "value-oriented investment", i.e. the use of fundamentals in guiding the valuation of securities. This approach was further advanced in two other Graham classics, the Interpretation of Financial Statements (1937) and the Intelligent Investor (1949). Graham's approach acquired an avid following in the financial community. He was nicknamed the "Dean of Wall Street" and raised to almost mythic status among practitioners.

As the Great Depression wore on, Benjamin Graham turned his attention to wider economic issues. Seeing the devastation of deflation on farmers, workers, and producers, exacerbated by the irrationalities of the Gold Standard, Graham produced his famous 1937 Storage and Stability. In it, Graham proposed the creation and maintenance of reservoirs of commodities to act as buffer stocks against general price deflation. So urgent and foolproof did he believe this price-stabilization plan to be that he offered free copies of his book to anyone who asked.

Benjamin Graham's propositions were taken up Frank D. Graham of Princeton, and made into a more general proposition about a commodity-reserve currency. In World Commodities and World Currency (1944), Benjamin Graham proposed an international "Commodity Standard", where macroeconomic policies would shift from the defunct gold standard to a more general basket of commodities. Making its round in the journals, Benjamin Graham's plan was sympathetically reviewed by such unlikely bedfellows such as J.M. Keynes, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Nicholas Kaldor resurrected Graham's propositions in his "Bancor" campaign after the 1960s and Robert E. Hall took it up more recently in the "free banking" surge.

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