Tony Judt – Ill Fares the Land

“As recently as the 1970s, the idea that the point of life was to get rich and that governments existed to facilitate this would have been ridiculed: not only by capitalism s traditional critics but also by many of its staunchest defenders. Relative indifference to wealth for its own sake was widespread in the postwar decades. In a survey of English schoolboys taken in 1949, it was discovered that the more intelligent the boy the more likely he was to choose an interesting career at a reasonable wage over a job that would merely pay well. Today’s schoolchildren and college students can imagine little else but the search for a lucrative job. How should we begin to make amends for raising a generation obsessed with the pursuit of material wealth and indifferent to so much else? Perhaps we might start by reminding ourselves and our children that it wasn’t always thus. Thinking ‘economistically’, as we have done now for thirty years, is not intrinsic to humans. There was a time when we ordered our lives differently. “

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Credit Crunch 600 years ago

“The problems did not take long to materialise. Fragmentation and rebellion broke out in the Persian provinces as Timur’s heirs jostled to take control of his empire. But more structural difficulties were unleashed by a global financial crisis in the fifteenth century that affected Europe and Asia. The crisis was caused by a series of factors that resonate 600 years later: over-saturated markets, currency devalnations and a lopsided balance of payments that went awry. Even with the growing demand for silks and other luxury products, there was only so much that could be absorbed. It was not that appetites were sated or that tastes had changed, it was that the exchange mechanism went wrong: Europe in particular had little to give in return ยป, ceramics and spices that were so highly prized. With la effectively producing more than it could sell abroad, there to keep buying goods dried up – The result has often been described as a “bullion famine’.”

Frankopan P., The Silk Roads, ch 10, pg. 197, Bloomsbury, 2016