Finance took control of industry in a seven-year period, from 1897 to 1903. Twenty billion dollars in mostly new capitalization flooded the American stock markets as promoters and investment bankers combined existing industrial plants in order to manufacture stock. Most of this stock represented only the promise of future profits; it had nothing behind it but dreams and nothing below it but water. Bankers and promoters took that stock and dumped it on a market rich with capital and starved for investment opportunities. The purpose of the American corporation shifted from making things and selling things to churning out dividends and interest payments. The purpose of American corporate capitalism was finance. This is the historical background behind the opening of America's economic Pandora's box.