A special role in the Marshall Plan
In the aftermath of the Second World War, US aid allowed for the recovery of the European economy. Through its New York Office, Societe Generale played an active role in this new flow of business, which led to France's post-war golden age, the "Trente Glorieuses".
Europe emerged from the Second World War crippled and bereaved. Like its main competitors, Societe Generale was nationalised by the French Law of 2 December 1945, and contributed to the country's reconstruction. The company's role in the recovery of the French economy was strengthened by its presence (since 1939) in the United States, which promised to provide aid to countries devastated by the war. A little-known fact is that Societe Generale's presence in New York allowed it to play a special role in the flow of business generated by the Marshall Plan (1948-1952). The standard procedure involved the intervention of an American bank, known as an assignee, which was selected by the official agency responsible for US aid to Europe and given the power to finance the authorised exports. These cash outflows were covered by this agency's repayment commitment. Established at 60 Wall Street at the heart of the business district, the New York office, headed by Lewis Chanler, was ideally placed to act as an assignee bank. From both sides of the Atlantic, it was involved in a strict and complex procedure that saw it use its expertise and local contacts to facilitate the aid distribution process, opening the door to France's post-war golden age, the "Trente Glorieuses" (Glorious 30 Years). The New York office also played an important role in the trade in major food commodities, helping introduce coffee from francophone Africa to the US market and financing sugar exports from the "dollar zone" (countries with currencies pegged to the US dollar).