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Historical Timeline

The 1940's


The economy is on the upswing. Banks become more profitable. Most economists think that the Depression has ended.

World War II: 1941-1945
World War IIThe war has a dramatic effect on the U.S. economy. Between 1941 and 1945, federal spending totals more that $321 billion, twice as much as all federal spending from 1789 to 1941. The GNP grows by more than 75 percent between 1941 and 1945. The U.S. government becomes the leading sector of the economy.


The Bretton Woods system of international economic management establishes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, later divided into the World Bank and Bank for International Settlements, and the International Monetary Fund. The system establishes rules for commerce and financial relations among the world's major industrial states.


U.S. Presidents
during the 1940s

Harry S Truman  Harry S Truman (1945-1953)

  • Total bank assets are double the $91 billion at the end of 1941.
  • Large-scale war financing of the federal government is the primary factor contributing to the rise of banking assets.
  • U.S. government securities account for 57 percent of total banking assets.
  • Between 1942 and 1945, only 28 FDIC-insured banks fail.
  • Victory in Europe Day: May 8.
  • Victory over Japan: August 15.
    Scene from It's A Wonderful Life
  • Frank Capra directs the movie It's A Wonderful Life, a post-war tale of an S&L manager who struggles against a greedy banker and his own self-doubting nature.
  • The FDIC insurance fund has a balance of more than $1 billion.
  • Post-war economic and housing boom begins.
  • The FDIC repays the initial funding loans of $289 million to the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board.
  • President Harry Truman signs the Marshall Plan into law to reconstruct Europe following World War II. The U.S. contributes more than $13 billion of economic and technical assistance. This provides a boost to the U.S. economy because Europe purchases U.S. goods and services.
Diner's Club card

Diner's Club is established, providing a universal, third-party credit card.

People begin carrying credit cards in their wallets.