WILLIAM KALF, STILL LIFE WITH CHINESE PORCELAIN"(1669); GALLERY OF HONOR, RIJKSMUSEUM, AMSTERDAM
Capitalism as the New Socialism May 21, 2019
"You can avoid reality but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality,,,The free market is no more, leaving only a finance ‘capitalism’ consisting substantively of ‘financial markets’ that are being prepped for something called ‘market socialism’, which, in turn, cannot, by its non-existent nature, actually exist'"...
Private Banking Is Alive and Well in Switzerland The Wall Street Journal Europe November 14, 2013
"Reports of the demise of the Swiss private-banking industry have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the banks that make up that tradition's über-exclusive, ancestral roots may even be poised for strong years ahead...."
When Money Dies October 10, 2014
"The story of the destruction of the German mark during the hyper-inflation of Weimar Germany from 1919 to its horrific peak in November 1923 is usually dismissed as a bizarre anomaly in the economic history of the twentieth century. But no episode better illustrates the dire consequences of unsound money or makes a more devastating, real-life case against fiat-currency: where there is no restraint, monetary death will follow."...
Central Banks Have Not Always Been as Bad As They Are Today May 30, 2018
"Long ago, in a universe of sane fiscal policy far away, there existed an institution, then new to the world of international banking and finance, called the Federal Reserve Bank, whose primary concern of the day—the day being its founding on December 13, 1913—was to have very large reserves of cash backed by even larger reserves of gold that were enough “to earn the public trust.” It was an unusual kind of organization, where crude, simplistic policy directives such as “safety and sound judgement”, “lawful money” and “normal monetary order” possessed none of the sophisticated reasoning of “zero-interest rate policy”, “helicopter Ben” and “quantitative easing’ characterizing that Bank’s latter day ne’er-do-well progeny."...
The Swiss Way of Health October 27, 2017
"The enigmatic independence of Switzerland is perhaps best demonstrated in the fact that its healthcare system manages to satisfy both free marketers and the statist-socialists in the country. It is a giant social safety net woven by individual responsibility and self-made wealth. Health insurance is almost entirely consumer-based, though there are strict cantonal regulations and some governing federal laws. Coverage is not created, provided or managed by the federal or by cantonal governments, but is sold and managed by private-sector insurance companies to individuals. It is not provided by employers, except in the case of large multinationals and then only partially. There are no free state-provided health services. There is no Medicare. Subsidies are provided in extreme cases (poverty, the infirm) with strict conditions, including the recipient having to pay back those subsidies eventually."
Can a Modern Bank Still Be a Banker's Bank? October 12, 2017
"The enigmatic independence of Switzerland is perhaps best demonstrated in the fact that its healthcare system manages to satisfy both free marketers and the statist-socialists in the country. It is a giant social safety net woven by individual responsibility and self-made wealth. Health insurance is almost entirely consumer-based, though there are strict cantonal regulations and some governing federal laws. Coverage is not created, provided or managed by the federal or by cantonal governments, but is sold and managed by private-sector insurance companies to individuals. It is not provided by employers, except in the case of large multinationals and then only partially. There are no free state-provided health services. There is no Medicare. Subsidies are provided in extreme cases (poverty, the infirm) with strict conditions, including the recipient having to pay back those subsidies eventually".
Hard Assets in an Age of Negative Interest Rates September 30, 2017
"Time is the soul of money, the long-view — its immortality. Hard assets are forever, even when destroyed by the cataclysms of history. It is the outlook that perpetuated the most competent and powerful aristocracies in continental Europe, well up through World War I and, in certain prominent cases, beyond; it is the mindset that has sustained the most fiscally serious democratic republic in the Western world, that of Switzerland (as demonstrated in this article). In this view, the stewardship of money, formerly known as “banking,” is a serious matter of serious wealth management and not a weird-science lab experiment of investment products ultimately designed for hedge fund managers’ tax arbitrage schemes."
Can Switzerland Survive Today's Assault on Cash and Sound Money? August 6, 2017
"Switzerland will have the last word,” wrote Victor Hugo in the late 19th century. “It possesses one of the most perfect forms of government in the world.” A contemporary of his, Frederick Kuenzli, a scholar of the Swiss Army, boasted: “No purer type of Republican ideals, no more fixed and devoted adherence to those ideals can be found in all the world than in Switzerland.” On many levels, there is reason to believe that, indeed, Switzerland remains a unique oasis of rationality and intelligence in the ocean-wide bloodbath that is contemporary Western fiscal and social self-sabotage. On the other hand, there is the Swiss National Bank — the central bank — that oddly appears to be encouraging the same monetary policy dance-with-death that has tripped up the country’s masochistic neighbors. How viable yet is the Swiss element in that which we still admire as the nation of Switzerland?
"The Swiss Bankers Should Be a Model for Bankers Everywhere November 28, 2016
The strong showing in banking stocks may show some optimism following the presidential election victory of Donald Trump. But, a healthy future for US banking will only take root if that industry comes to terms with the original purpose for which banking was intended — wealth management. As such, the great American bank in generations to come will not be of the calamitous Wells Fargo or Bank of America type — or even Facebook’s Electronic Money Institution license or Google’s Mobile Wallet. The most solid banks will be remakes of that timeless classic, the Swiss private banker. It is this “back to the future” philosophy of banking, already prevalent in some of the past decade’s best performing and least known banks in the US, that must become predominant if that sector is to remain resilient.
A Portrait of the Classical Gold Standard April 6, 2015
"The world that disappeared in 1914 appeared, in retrospect, something like our picture of Paradise," wrote the economist Cecil Hirsch in his June 1934 review of R.W. Hawtrey’s classic, The Art of Central Banking (1933). Hirsch bemoaned the loss of the far-sighted restraint that had once prevailed among the "bankers' banks" of the West, concluding that modern times "had failed to attain the standard of wisdom and foresight that prevailed in the 19th century."
That wisdom and foresight was once upon a time institutionalized throughout an international monetary culture — gold-based, wary of credit, and contemptuous of debt, public or private. This world included central banks including the Bank of England, the Bank of France, the Swiss National Bank, the early Federal Reserve, the Imperial Bank of Austria-Hungary, and the German Reichsbank. But the entrenched hard-money ideology of the time restrained all of them. The Bank of Russia, for example, which once required 50 percent to 100 percent gold backing of all notes issued, possessed the second largest gold reserves on the planet at the turn of the twentieth century.
A Brief and Messy History of Modern Gold Standards January 25, 2018
Although gold prices hit a new high in mid-January, Americans, by and large, are still reluctant about gold. They don’t quite "get it." This incomprehension is different than that of Americans not "getting," for example, bitcoin (as few seem to). They may understand gold as a safe haven that has always stood the test of time, war, crises, inflation, etc. Some also understand that no gold proponent advocates harkening back to a mythical 19th century gold hey-day (one that did not exist — certainly not consistently), or recommends re-issuing gold minted currency, or reverting to any kind of bimetallism (the 19th century norm).
That said, the "barbarous relic" view tends to persist. Overall, it is thought that gold simply has no place in a modernized (read: central bank-controlled) economy. Making matters more complex is the question of what is gold and what is not. The recent proliferation of gold derivatives, "paper gold," ETFs, certificates, bogus gold; the Chinese, the Russians, depleted reserves, actual supply make its study opaque and abstract. In light of this confusion, a basic overview of the role of gold in an economy, both in classic and modern terms, is in order:
Central Banks and Our Dysfunctional Gold Markets July 23, 2015
Many investors still view gold as a safe-haven investment, but there remains much confusion regarding the extent to which the gold market is vulnerable to manipulation through short-term rigged market trades, and long-arm central bank interventions. First, it remains unclear whether or not much of the gold that is being sold as shares and in certificates actually exists. Second, paper gold can theoretically be printed into infinity just like regular currency — although private-sector paper-gold sellers have considerably less leeway in this regard than central banks. Third, new electronic gold pricing — replacing, as of this past February, the traditional five-bank phone-call of the London Gold Fix in place since 1919 — has not necessarily proved a more trustworthy model. Fourth, there looms the specter of the central bank, particularly in the form of volume trading discounts that commodity exchanges offer them"...
Is Russia Planning a Gold-Based Currency? February 6, 2015
The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.
Though a far-fetched idea at first glance, many factors suggest that remonetization in gold may be a logical next step for Moscow.
The Hanseatic League's Empire of Commerce January 5, 2018
Once upon a time there was a northern, medieval phenomenon as much the subject of universal myth and curiosity as that of the enchantress city-republics flourishing down south: the Hanseatic League of the mid-13th to 16th centuries. “The Hansa“ (old German for “associations“) or “The League,“ as it was known, began as a treaty between Lübeck and Hamburg “to clear the road of pirates and robbers between the Elbe and the Trave“ [a river in northern Germany with its delta at the Baltic sea]. It gradually increased to add Cologne and Bremen, later expanding to Gdansk, Riga and Novgorod, finally incorporating Bruges, Brunswick, and many satellite-cities throughout Scandinavia. The main goal of this expansion was to keep the herring fisheries of the Baltic in the hands of the merchant-princes of Lübeck and decidedly out of the hands of Frederick II Hohenstaufen, stupor mundi extraordinaire, who, in 1226, decreed that lovely, gothic-gabled town an Imperial City. Then, too, routes to capture the salt trade to Cyprus were critical. Soon, The League was dominating commercial relations with the Levant, Venice, Spain, France and England in timber, fur, grain, honey, Scandinavian copper and iron, in return for spices, medicine, fruit and wine and cotton. Such is how this loose coalition of Flying Dutchman--capitalists emerged as an empire without a State.
The Case for the City-State The Wall Street Journal Europe July 12, 2012
The current discussion of how Greece and Italy can overcome their economic devastation will have little effect until these countries finally decide to stop faking their own existence. Neither country has functioned as a centralized state since their unification movements of the mid-19th century, the result of ideals more romantic than realistic.