Ever wondered why there are so many "banques" in France that do not carry the term in their names: Credit Lyonnais, Société Générale, Caisse d'Epargne, Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel etc etc all of whom (and I write under correction) were created in the 19th century at various stages of the Industrial Revolution?

One entertaining explanation is that the catastrophic fallout from the collapse of the Banque Générale Privée created by John Law in 1716 did not encourage anyone seeking commercial success in finance to name their enterprise a "banque" even a century later.

That extreme speculative episode may also explain some contemporary French prudence in borrowing matters too - variable rate mortgages are routinely decried as ludicrously dangerous and few house buyers have them.

But there is another thinking point, perhaps, from John Law's French adventure. That is, that money is not credit. It is not shares. Nor bonds. Nor anything represented by an alphabet soup abbreviation.

Amid talk of 'confidence' (and even more about who put the 'con' into the word) exists an investment world where price discovery has been so distorted that only those with no choice, the brave or the superbly well informed will enter where (suspended) mark-to-market rules fear to tread. In this world of guess-where-the-money-is rational investors will continue throwing good out with bad.


Blast from the past reading:

"But alas! the superstructure, then, became so far beyond the proportion of the foundation, that the whole fabric fell to ruin, and involved a nation, just emerging from bankruptcy and ruin, into new calamities, almost equal to the former.

As long as the credit of this bank subsisted, it appeared to the French to be perfectly solid. The bubble no sooner bursted, than the whole nation was thrown into astonishment and consternation. Nobody could conceive from whence the credit had sprung; what had created such mountains of wealth in so short a time; and by what witchcraft and fascination it had been made to disappear in an instant, in the short period of one day.

Volumes have been since written in France, by men of speculation, in order to prove, that it was a want of confidence in the public, and not the want of a proper security for the paper, which occasioned this downfal.

This, if we judge by what has been written, has been the general opinion of that nation to this day: and since it was found impossible, in France, to create confidence in circulating paper, which had no security for its value, many people there, and some even among ourselves, conclude, that a great part of the wealth of Great Britain, which consists in paper, well secured, is false and fictitious."




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