Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2005 (Revised August 2011)

Jesse Holman Jones and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation

by Nitin Nohria, Anthony Mayo and Bridget Gurtler


Jesse Holman Jones is regarded as one of the most influential men in reviving the American economy from the Great Depression. With only an 8th grade education, he rose to the top of the banking, real estate, and lumber industries, as well as the upper echelons of politics as the head of Reconstruction Finance Corp. (RFC), as secretary of commerce and, during World War I, as director general of military relief for the American Red Cross. He was responsible for the transformation of his adopted city Houston, Texas, into the most important city for international commerce in the South. After Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jones was the single most influential and powerful man in the New Deal by virtue of his control of the billions of dollars RFC held. With this power, he greatly affected many American cities and the way our financial system currently operates. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

Keywords: Financial Crisis; Financial Strategy; Business History; Leading Change; Managerial Roles; Business and Government Relations; Power and Influence;


Nohria, Nitin, Anthony Mayo, and Bridget Gurtler. "Jesse Holman Jones and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 406-029, July 2005. (Revised August 2011.)