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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 1, January 4, 2009, Article 21

JOHN LAW MEDALS A SIGN OF THE (MODERN) TIMES

Cheapskate extraordinaire John Burns once scrawled this verse for me on a piece of paper:
Times are rough
Times are hard
Here's your f*^#ing
Birthday card


Well, the events of 2008 have brought Hard Times upon many of us. But if it's any consolation, the world has seen tough economic times before and managed to endure. For one example, numismatists can looks to medals relating to John Law and the Mississippi Company, such as those cataloged as number 115 and 116 in C. Wylys Betts' 1894 work, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals.

Roughly translated, the inscriptions include the phrases "Credit Is As Dead As A Rat" and "Bankruptcy is the Fashion" Here's a description and image of one of the medals from Stack's.

From the Stack's January 2006 sale (John J. Ford, Part 13):
John Law. Credit Is As Dead As A Rat, 1701. B.115, var; B.XXVI. Unsigned. Silver. 26.2 mm. 109.8 gns. Obverse: A man dead on the ground his wallet of now worthless letters of credit lying beside him inscribed WEXEL|BRIEFE. Reverse: An empty suit of clothes seen from behind with date 1701 on the waist. Very Fine. Silver gray toning with some iridescence. The types and legends refer to a drying up of credit and some sort of replacement fraud (''Now You See It, Now You Don't'') and contingent mass bankruptcy but not necessarily the collapse of Law's Mississippi scheme.


Betts 115 Obv Betts 115 Rev


To view the complete lot description, see: Stack's January 2006 Auction, Lot 583 (http://www.stacksarchive.com/viewlot.php?auction=ST0106&lot=583)

Last week I just didn't have a logical place to put Dick Johnson's submission. But here's the perfect opportunity, one week later. -Editor
Last week the Good Lord evidently realized that not enough people had been reading Hyman Minsky’s explanation of how financial cycles end in Ponzi schemes – the stage in which banks keep the boom going by lending their customers the money to pay interest and thus avoid default. So He sent Bernie Madoff to dominate the news for a week and give the mass media an opportunity to familiarize newspaper readers and TV watchers with just how Ponzi schemes work. What Mr. Madoff did was, in a nutshell, what the economy as a whole has been doing under the moniker “wealth creation.”


To read the complete article, see: The Ponzi Paradigm (www.counterpunch.org/hudson12232008.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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