The United States Steel Corporation was perhaps the most heralded American company throughout much of the twentieth century and had a major impact on the world’s economy. The sheer size of the organization led to innovations in accountancy because the merged entity was simply too big to be understood with conventional financial statements.
Under the leadership of J. P.
Because the total entity was a conglomeration of a dozen formerly independent companies, the accountants, Price Waterhouse, had to figure out how to report the corporation’s results in a manner that would be understandable to stock market investors. The solution was the invention of consolidated financial statements. The first full-year
U.S. Steel’s business dominance began to decline after 1950, partially because of the actions of the U.S. government, but it remained a venerable institution. In 1952, during the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman tried to take over the company’s production facilities to resolve a labor union crisis, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the takeover. A later president, John F. Kennedy, was slightly more successful in 1962, when he got the company to reverse a price increase that the president thought would be harmful to the nation’s economy. The government intervened again in 1984, when a takeover of National Steel Company was prevented. Despite setbacks, U.S. Steel has remained the largest steel company in the United States, although it is far from being the largest corporation.
Cotter, Arundel. The Authentic History of the United States Steel Corporation. New York: Moody Magazine and Book Company, 1916. Vangermeersch, Richard G. Financial Accounting Milestones in the Annual Reports of United States Steel Corporation: The First Seven Decades. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986. Warren, Kenneth. Big Steel: The First Century of the United States Steel Corporation, 1901-2001. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001.
J. P. Morgan
Steel mill seizure of 1952