Monetary debates were even the stuff of popular culture (at the turn of the 20th century). Indeed L. Frank Baum’s enduring The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, has been read as an elaborate allegory for the monetary politics of the era.  Dorothy stands for the American people at their best; Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, the struggling farmers;  the cyclone, the financial storms and political unrest of the 1890s.  Slippers of silver (not the ruby ones of the movie version) tread the path of gold (the Yellow Brick Road) that leads to the Emerald City of power (Washington).  There are the unemployed factory worker (the rusting Tin Man), the farmer (Scarecrow), and in some interpretations, pacifist William Jennings Bryan himself (the cowardly lion with a frightening roar).  The wizard, in allegorical readings, is a political charlatan, in some versions Mark Hanna, the strategist widely seen as manipulating William McKinley.  (If only the book had been written later, literary economists could have painted the wizard as chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Alan Greenspan, after all, was likened to the Wizard of Oz, the man whose aura of mystery and power exaggerated his wisdom and capacity to control events.)

From In Fed We Trust- Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic by David Wessel