Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Lesson From Hong Kong

Simon Black at Sovereign Man writes of how he enjoys reading and especially historically accurate fiction - that is, history with more fiction than the school books usually include:
One of my all-time favorite books is a novel by James Clavell, Tai-pan. It’s the second book in his series of six novels known as The Asian Saga—a fictional account of historical facts.

Tai-Pan tells the story of Western, and especially British, traders at the time of the Opium Wars with China. The story starts right after the British have defeated the Chinese Empire in the First Opium War and claimed a barren island in the Pearl River delta as a British possession—Hong Kong.
He tells the story of a wealthy merchant receiving a letter from his banker back in Scotland.
“We regret to inform you that, inadvertently and momentarily, credit was overextended and there was a run on the bank, started by malicious rivals. Therefore we can no longer keep our doors open. The board of directors has advised we can pay sixpence on the pound. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant…”

And we hold close to a million sterling of their paper. Twenty-five thousand sterling for a million, and our debts close to a million pounds. We’re bankrupt.

Great God, I warned Robb not to put all the money in one bank. Na with all the speculating that was going on in England, na when a bank could issue paper in any amount that it liked.”
There are people who say great timeless truths can't be learned from fiction like James Clavell's, calling them exaggerations and romanticized.  It sounds like that's where you find most of the truths that you can learn without losing blood.   (H/T Zero Hedge)

"Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value -- zero."  -- Voltaire, 1729

1 comment:

  1. If this goes bad; black Friday, great depression bad, it will be so much worse then it was in the 30's. We were a different people then. 50% of the population lived on the land then today it is 2%. So much more is different too. We are not nearly the self-sufficient people of the 20's and 30's. Everything from our dependence on our infrastructure to our lack basic skills works against us. It's going to be difficult for most people to accept what is happening and to then do what they must to keep it together. I will bet a simple one week suspension of the ATM and credit cards along with banks closing will bring people to violence and anarchy. I don't absolutely know it's gonna crash but unless some unforeseen event happens that can change the course we are on I simply don't see how it can be avoided. I also don't believe that all the politicians and all the talking heads and reporters are somehow blissfully unaware of what's going on. Which really makes me more worried because what they should all be doing is shouting from the rooftops and riding through the night like a Paul Revere to warn the people but instead most of them are talking up stupid movie star stories or the latest gossip. I think they are too scared to take this story on. And of course today America's biggest problem is that unlike the Boy Scouts we don't have any adult leaders. I can't think of more then half a dozen "leaders" today that I want to follow. We are in deep crap. Have an exit plan.