Many investors are familiar with the fact that President Franklin Roosevelt closed all of the banks in America and confiscated all of the privately-owned gold by executive order in the early days of his administration, which began in 1933.
Presidents since then have seized assets from countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba and imposed sanctions on Russia and many other countries by executive order.
Yet, relatively few are familiar with the statutory authority for these orders.
The president does not need an act of Congress to support such extreme actions. The laws have already been passed and the president has standing authority to act like a dictator with regard to financial assets.
The first such statue was the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917, TWE. This was used to seize German assets in the U.S. during the First World War. It’s how the U.S. took control of Bayer Aspirin from the German firm Bayer AG.
TWE was the authority FDR used to close the banks and seize the gold. It’s not clear whom FDR considered the “enemy” when he used TWE; probably private gold hoarders. But, in 1977, the Congress enacted an even more extreme version of TWE called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, or IEEPA.
This is the equivalent of a nuclear weapon when it comes to financial warfare.
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