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Thomas Edison’s Quixotic Plan for a New Monetary Policy

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- During the sharp recession of 1921-1922, Thomas Edison turned from making innovative consumer products to reinventing the U.S. monetary system.

He was driven to economics by a sincere desire to be useful in a crisis and by his friend Henry Ford. Ford had proposed that the federal government issue paper dollars -- effectively zero-interest bonds -- to finance the completion of the Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River, which he would then buy from the government. Ford took Edison to the dam site, and Edison was impressed with the proposal.