How LBJ Tasked Economist Eliot Janeway to Prepare the Financial Industry for a “Regime Change”

In the summer of 1963, the publicity-seeking bearish economist eliot janeway visited the major financial centers, warning of coming changes in the political leadership of the nation. in retrospect, it appears that he was preparing that industry for a coming storm.

According to Wikipedia, Eliot Janeway became famous in the late 1960s for his dire forecasts of stock market trauma, which earned him the nickname “Calamity Janeway” on Wall Street. But before his “break” with President Johnson over the conduct of the Vietnam War, he had been very close to Johnson and served as an informal advisor to him during LBJ’s career, from the 1940s to 1965. He was among those who urged Johnson to enter the 1956 presidential campaign and was among his strongest backers to enter the 1960 run for the White House.

Economist / Columnist Eliot Janeway

The historian Michael Beschloss, writing about his later rise in the public limelight, stated, “What Eliot Janeway excelled at was keeping himself in the limelight and latching onto people who were going places. He did both of these things better and longer than most . . . During the 1970s and 80s, when men like Abe Fortas and (Felix) Cohen had faded into the past, the high-flying Janeway was starring in television commercials for Mazda and Glenfiddich Scotch and slipping economic ideas to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.” [1]

The most pertinent comments about the references to “regime change” in the document below are highlighted in the left margin:

“Janeway spoke to us as a “close friend of LBJ of long standing” about the dangerous man called John F. Kennedy who occupied the presidency of the United States. He whispered his comments in what I have always referred to as a hiss. Janeway had not one good thing to say about JFK or his brother Robert, and strongly advised us to consider the great damage that they could and probably would do to the nation. . .

“I felt that Janeway was on a tour encompassing more than Boston to spread his words as a messenger of LBJ among the investment community.”

Another incident that took place immediately after the assassination affirms how concerned Johnson was about the risk of damage to the stock market at such a perilous time.

Recall that as he awaited the arrival of the federal judge to swear him in on Air Force One, he made a number of urgent telephone calls to various people. One of them was to his personal tax lawyer, J. W. “Waddy” Bullion, asking for advice on what to do with his stock portfolio, considering the market’s certain plunge following the assassination. Pat Holloway, an attorney who worked for Bullion, stated that he took that call and listened as Johnson began telling Bullion about his number one concern at that point—at 1:00 p.m. on November 22, 1963, just as Kennedy was being pronounced dead—and it had nothing to do with John F. Kennedy. As Holloway reported it, Johnson said, “‘Oh I gotta get rid of my goddamn Halliburton stock.’ Lyndon Johnson was talking about the consequences of his political problems with his Halliburton stock at a time when the president had been officially declared dead. And that pissed me off . . . It really made me furious.” [2]

It must have worked, because the Dow Jones average was only down less than 3% when management closed trading for the day. On the first trading day after the assassination, Tuesday, November 26, “market averages rebounded sharply, recording the largest gains for any single day in history, and the fourth highest single day trading volume in NYSE history to that point.” [3]

There is no other known similar report from other sources of Eliot Janeway’s tour of major financial service corporations but this document’s specificity regarding Mr. Gassett, a vice president of Eaton & Howard in Boston appears to be a credible account of a known close associate of Lyndon Johnson warning people in that industry of impending dramatic changes: Was Janeway’s elaborate “tour” of national banks and investment houses a few months before JFK’s assassination a subtle way of dampening the expected market impact to be expected in the wake of a calamitous national event?

The fact that the information contained within the memo, according to its author, was furnished to Robert Caro in 1998 further refutes his statements that he has never received information suggesting that Johnson had been implicated in the assassination of JFK. The assertions made within the memo, though not directly stating that he had been involved in planning it, certainly leads one in that direction; but it is only one of many which contradict Caro’s statements (See HERE for additional information about this issue).

End Notes:

[1] Michael Beschloss, The New York Times, April 18, 2004, Book Review of Michael Janeway’s book “My Father’s Business.”

[2] See LBJ: Mastermind . . . pp. 417-418 (Ref. Ira David Wood III, Murder in Dealey Plaza, p. 93., Russ Baker, Family of Secrets . . . p. 132)

[3] Wikipedia, “Reactions to the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactions_to_the_assassination_of_John_F._Kennedy

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