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1074022.  Wed May 14, 2014 2:23 am Reply with quote

A foreign QI theme, with questions like why the currency of the U.S. is called a Dollar.

1074063.  Wed May 14, 2014 5:02 am Reply with quote

Was the Marshall Plan (the European Recovery Plan) the cause of the German Wirtschaftswunder, and was it granted?

No, of course. Today you'd better compare the political plan with the U.S. providing money to the government of Ukrain, because they want a sovereign buffer. It worked, West-Germany became a free western country.

Most of the funding provided by the U.S. were loans instead of grants:

Wikipedia wrote:
The UK received 385 million USD of its Marshall plan aid in the form of loans. Unconnected to the Marshall plan the UK also received direct loans from the US amounting to 4.6 billion USD. The proportion of Marshall plan loans versus Marshall plan grants was roughly 15% to 85% for both the UK and France.

1074086.  Wed May 14, 2014 6:33 am Reply with quote

As mentioned in another thread recently: Alderney wanted to issue golden bitcoins. So you can use the value of the gold of the golden coin, or you can use the market value of a bitcoin.

Is this smart somehow, ignoring several expensive and dangerous problems?

In this case we can use the market value of an existing golden coin, the American Eagle. You'll have lost ~10% per transaction when you'd pay using such a coin. Buying the coin: ~5%. The shop having to sell your coin: ~5%.

Paying with a bitcoin is more expensive, ~15%. Buying a bitcoin, about ~1%, is cheaper than buying a real golden coin, but the shop will make you pay ~14% extra because they have to sell your volatile bitcoin to obtain real money. Bitpay's implied put option.

So Alderney should be glad that the value of the golden coin itself now would exceed the value of a bitcoin, because then the loss per transaction is just ~10%,

Or they should sell a few coins, not more than one thousand, so it becomes a true collector's item. That'll work better. A Mint, trying to make money, often sells useless golden coin-shaped objects:

Sadurian Mike
1074145.  Wed May 14, 2014 10:41 am Reply with quote

knightmare wrote:
Most of the funding provided by the U.S. were loans instead of grants

And you don't think that loans help economic growth? In a country where capital was required to help the rebuilding of a shattered industrial base? An injection of capital at the right time can mean the difference between success and failure - just ask any small businessman who can't pay debts or invest in new technology because his customers haven't paid their bills.

The Marshall Plan loans helped offset the War Reparations imposed upon Germany. In addition, they helped Germany's target export markets in Europe, which allowed them to buy imported goods from German firms. West German industry had rebuilt itself very quickly, but that would have been pointless without being able to export goods.

The Marshall Plan didn't transform West Germany, but it is wrong to dismiss it so casually.

1074386.  Thu May 15, 2014 8:50 am Reply with quote

What brought down the Spanish Empire, Alexander The Great and the Sumerians?


The Spanish brought back gold from the new world, Alexander brought back looted Persian treasure and the Sumerian currency inflated during war with its neighbours.

1074387.  Thu May 15, 2014 8:55 am Reply with quote

Mesopotamia is famous for having the oldest written word that still survives and of course that the writing in question were bank records.

There are records there from Uruk showing secured and unsecured lending as well as foreign exchange transactions.

Playing the currency market today involves trillions of dollars changing 'hands' everyday.

1074388.  Thu May 15, 2014 8:59 am Reply with quote

The Sumerian coin known as the shekel ('she' means 'wheat', 'kel' means 'bushel'). The original purpose of the shekel was as a means of payment for sacred sexual intercourse at the temple of Inanna/Ishtar (goddess of like, death, fertility). The temple doubled as a grain store.

1074389.  Thu May 15, 2014 9:05 am Reply with quote

The smallest coins were probably the ones used by the Lydians (the society which Herodotus thinks invented modern coinage around 687 BC) and they were 0.006 of an ounce of electrum so 1/15th the weight of a modern US penny.

The largest coins are from Yap Island, in the Caroline Islands. They are six-foot wheels of limestone cut from an island 400 miles away. This was mainly a currency for men; women decided to use strings of mussels instead.

Sadurian Mike
1074390.  Thu May 15, 2014 9:13 am Reply with quote

ConorOberstIsGo wrote:
The largest coins are from Yap Island, in the Caroline Islands. They are six-foot wheels of limestone cut from an island 400 miles away. This was mainly a currency for men; women decided to use strings of mussels instead.

You're forgetting the Ningi.

HitchHikerWiki wrote:
The Triganic Pu is a unit of galactic currency with an exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu. This is simple enough but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change.

1074391.  Thu May 15, 2014 9:14 am Reply with quote

Mile Zelie, a French opera singer during the 19thC gave a recital at the Society Islands. taking home a third of the proceeds was difficult; she was paid 3 pigs, 23 turkeys, 44 chickens, 5000 coconuts and a heap of bananas, oranges and lemons. She was supposed to throw a public feast but instead fed the fruit to the pigs and her fee was mostly wasted.

1074392.  Thu May 15, 2014 9:18 am Reply with quote

In the 1888 Edward Bellamy book Looking Backward: 2000-1887, a person falls asleep in 1887 and wakes in 2000, when people apparently use pasteboard 'credit' cards to purchase things. Pretty sci-fi huh?

1074394.  Thu May 15, 2014 9:33 am Reply with quote

The 'Fractional Reserve Multiplier' starts with say, an injection of 100 million of 'high-powered' money from the Bank of England. These funds are deposited in the banking system by the recipients. This enables the recipient bank to issue a loan for 90 million (the other 10m being 'sterile reserves'). The loan leads to a deposit in another bank which means that bank can loan out 81m to someone else.... and so on. This means what might have started out as 100m in 'high-powered' money can create almost 900 million in 'credit' money as it works its way through the banking system.

Ian Dunn
1074408.  Thu May 15, 2014 10:33 am Reply with quote

The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Mathematics went to "Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers by having his bank print notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars."

1074478.  Fri May 16, 2014 12:53 am Reply with quote

Not very interesting for the British people here, but I love that Scottish bank notes have something written on it that says it is a document of promised money from the bank. The note itself isn't money, it's technically a document saying you're entitled to 5 or however much from the bank, should you choose to exchange it. All bank notes are like that, right? Most of them just don't have to proclaim it.

1074560.  Fri May 16, 2014 7:16 am Reply with quote

CharliesDragon wrote:
All bank notes are like that, right? Most of them just don't have to proclaim it.

Actually all the British notes I can find have that written on them somewhere.

When Nixon untied the dollar from its gold value (edit - 1971) it became a fiat currency (a US dollar today is no longer redeemable for its value in gold but instead for... another dollar). It is this along with the ability to charge interest (brought in by Henry VIII) and the Bretton Woods agreement, that contributed to a current historic high in monetary instability and financial crises (though there a lot that reagan, Thatcher and Clinton did too to make it even worse).

Last edited by ConorOberstIsGo on Fri May 16, 2014 8:55 am; edited 1 time in total


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