Showing posts with label money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day, 2014

The calendar says today is Veterans' Day. History says today is Armistice Day - the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the guns that had roared in August, 1914 fell silent. The war that decimated Europe had come to an end not with victory, but with an Armistice. A truce.

There was still hope that this had been a "war to end wars."

But the Armistice had been a fiction. Germany was defeated, and the country was falling apart.

The failure of the Allies to insist on a German surrender was to create problems in the years ahead.

The peace was still being negotiated at Versaille. It was to be a draconian peace imposing harsh terms on Germany that, if fully implemented, would destroy the economy of Europe.

None of the belligerents was satisfied with the outcome. England and France wanted greater reparations payments, notwithstanding the damage this would do to their own economies. (John Maynard Keynes described what would happen in his book The Economic Consequences of The Peace.)

The only belligerent that achieved its war aims was Serbia (in the form of Yugoslavia) who started the whole thing in the first place.

Europe was in discord. Hungary didn't like the settlement and attacked Czechoslovakia. Poland didn't like the settlement and attacked the Soviet Union.

Russia (the Soviet Union) lost Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, and for a time lost Ukraine. Central Asia did its best to avoid incorporation into the Soviet Union.

The United States intervened in the Russian Civil War in the Murmansk area and in Eastern Siberia. Japan tried to carve out a part of Siberia.

The Czechoslovak Legion fought its way west to Vladivistok and on by sea to the newly independent state of Czechoslovakia.

Great Britain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Italy, Germany and the remains of Austria licked their wounds and sulked.

It was a long way from a peaceful world (I won't mention the Far East), but still the Armistice brought hope.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I wish we still called it Armistice Day.

In memory of the hope the day brought.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Oriental Town Budget

Last Monday, the Town Board held a public hearing on the budget for 2013-2014. Not many members of the public attended the 5:30 meeting, and there were few public comments. It took only a few minutes for the Town Board to approve the budget ordinance for the coming year.

Earlier this Spring, as reported in Town Dock, the Board considered a proposal to raise taxes to cover expenses resulting from my suit against the Town. Town Dock explained: "There will not be an increase in property taxes, even though, this spring, Commissioners had bounced that idea around for a week or two. Town Manager Bob Maxbauer claimed a tax hike was necessary to pay the town’s attorneys to fight lawsuits over the South Avenue and Avenue A rights of way. (Resident Dave Cox has sued the Town, saying towns can’t exchange or sell rights of way, as Oriental did in the Chris Fulcher land swap.

"Maxbauer wanted the Board to raise taxes 3 cents for every $100 valuation which would have brought in $63,000 – even though the Town’s attorney has estimated the cost of the lawsuit and appeal could run between $20,000 and $50,000. Commissioner Sherrill Styron said at one budget meeting that he wanted at least a penny tax to “make David Cox look bad” but in the end, the Board declined, in this election year, to raise the property tax at all."

I assume that Sherrill Styron's remark about raising taxes to make me look bad was offered in jest.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How The Romans Handled Debt And Credit

Two researchers at the New York Fed have been looking into money and credit in ancient Rome. How did they use debt and credit to move money around?

Turns out they could move large amounts of money by paper transactions. Not unlike our modern "shadow" banking system.

Bookkeeping must have been a challenge without having zeroes to play with.

Even without zeroes, Romans managed to move a lot of money around without hauling physical gold and silver.

Here's how.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Euro - The First Decade

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the Euro into circulation.

We were living in Europe (though not in the Euro Zone) at the time. As I recall, the Euro was worth about 85 cents when it was introduced. It was a great convenience to travelers, who over much of Europe no longer had to convert dollars into a dozen different currencies.

But I always wondered how the common currency would work in practice. We now know the answer - not very well.

Unless the Europeans get their act together, the first decade of the Euro may well be the last.