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Biography & Autobiography Business

To Make a Killing

Arthur Cutten, the Man Who Ruled the Markets

by (author) Robert Stephens

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2024
Business, Corporate & Business History
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2024
    List Price

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One of the wildest, most spectacular decades in American history, the 1920s were a period of unprecedented growth and mass consumerism. In the New Era, people drank in speakeasies, danced to jazz, idolized gangsters, and bet their life savings on stocks.

Born and raised in a small Canadian town, Arthur Cutten went to Chicago in 1890 with ninety dollars to his name. Through utter ruthlessness, he amassed a fortune trading in grain futures and stocks. Cutten was heralded as the modern Midas, and his every move was followed by the masses, who believed they could get rich quick. But everything changed after the crash of 1929. The heroes of prosperity became the villains of the Great Depression. Determined to crack down on the “banksters,” the Roosevelt administration launched an all-out attack on those it blamed for the collapse – and Cutten was at the top of the list. A US Senate committee probed how he manipulated stock prices. The Grain Futures Administration moved to bar him from trading. And the Bureau of Internal Revenue indicted him for income tax evasion. But the wily operator won on every count: he emerged from the Senate investigation unscathed, maintained his grain trading privileges after a victory in the Supreme Court, and left almost nothing for the tax collectors upon his death.

To Make a Killing tells the tale of Cutten’s journey to fabulous wealth, the forces that propelled him, and the fascinating characters in his life.

About the author

Robert Stephens is a former journalist and president of PR POST. He lives in Toronto and London, Ontario.

Robert Stephens' profile page

Editorial Reviews

To Make a Killing offers a fresh and engaging adventure through the life of a little-known commodity and stock exchange speculator. The book will be a valuable read for anyone interested in financial history or American history.” Joe Martin, co-author of From Wall Street to Bay Street: The Origins and Evolution of American and Canadian Finance

“Cutten was once described by his mentor, the commodity trader James Patten, as ‘not only the most daring, but the most unerring speculator the world has ever known.’ Mr. Stephens’s chronicle is a valiant attempt to shed light on his life.” The Wall Street Journal

“While the history of the financial markets of the early twentieth century has been well documented, To Make a Killing approaches the topic from a new angle, bringing the relatively unknown story of Arthur Cutten to life. Extensively researched, this is an interesting book that deserves to be read.” Angela Redish, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia