With four days left to go before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was in a familiar spot: second place.
For more than three months, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, had held an untouched advantage in public polling. Private data collected by Trump's own party, shared that day with reporters, predicted that Trump would be handed a 30-point defeat in the Electoral College.
It was on that Friday that the Trump campaign launched its closing argument for the presidency, a last-ditch effort to win over voters in the battleground states that every major prognosticator said he would lose. In an unusually long two-minute ad that the campaign paid $4 million to air in nine target states, Trump railed against "those who control the levers of power in Washington."
"It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities," Trump said.
In some ways, it was a political message that had been in the works for nearly a decade. The tea party movement rose from the ashes of the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse and the subsequent global financial crisis to protest the "establishment" politicians that it saw running Washington. In other ways, it was a message that stretched back much further, tied up in the history of American financial panics — and the secretive cabals accused of inciting them — going back to the 17th century, according to historians.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.