The United States refused to cancel the debts. President Coolidge spoke for most Americans when he said, simply: "They borrowed the money." He believed the European powers should pay back the war loans, even though their economies had suffered terribly during the fighting.
However, the European nations had little money to pay their loans. France tried to get the money by demanding payments from Germany for having started the war. When Germany was unable to pay, France and Belgium occupied Germany's Ruhr Valley. As a result, German miners in the area reduced coal production. And France and Germany moved toward an economic crisis and possible new armed conflict.
An international group intervened and negotiated a settlement to the crisis. The group provided a system to save Germany's currency and protect international debts. American bankers agreed to lend money to Germany to pay its war debts to the Allies. And the Allies used the money to pay their debts to the United States.
Some Americans with international interests criticized President Coolidge and other conservative leaders for not reducing or canceling Europe's debts.