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This Day That Year


wealthymatters.comThis article was published in today’s Mumbai Mirror.Reading it took me back to another time when India was a very different place.I was then still in school.India was anything but shining.Poverty and shortages were so much a fact of life that few of us really had an idea of how poor we were since everyone around us was in the same situation and most people had very little exposure to what was going on in the rest of the world.There was no talk of India being an emerging/emerged nation.We considered ourselves as belonging strictly to the Third World and few asked why we should not want better for ourselves.Read the article below and if you’re Indian take a minute to pat yourself on the back for how far we have come in 2 decades.Take heart from it and know that we have it in us to overcome out present problems.And remember the story so that we are never again in the same situation. Read more of this post

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Currencies of Antiquity


The Reichsmark was never an international currency.So studying inflation in the Weimar Republic is not enough.This post traces the history of the Drachma,Denarius,Bezant and Dinar–the international currencies of antiquity.I think knowing this history will help us see the parallels and understand our world better.If macro-economics is not really your thing,atleast knowing about the coins should give a rough idea of which ones would be more collectable for their bullion content!

The Drachma

wealthymatters.comThe Greeks minted stunningly beautiful coins.Non-Greeks thousands of miles away treasured these coins and so they became the first “international currency”.Archeologists have found Greek coins as far away as China, India and Northern Europe. In fact, even though Rome soon rose to eclipse Greece, most Asians kept using Greek money for centuries.

The main currency of Greece was the Athenian Drachma (pic on the left). It was a silver coin, and its weight and quality stayed amazingly consistent through the centuries. From Solon, around 600 BC, to Alexander the Great, around 300 years later, it stayed exactly 67 grains of fine silver. This was the money Alexander brought to India, and from there it traded yet further East becoming the monetary standard of all Asia. And even as Greece declined and was finally absorbed into Rome, its value did not fall much. By the end of the Drachma’s life, it had only declined to 65 grains of fine silver. This is an extraordinary achievement. No other civilization has ever had an international currency that stayed the same value —or pretty much so, since a fall from 67 to 65 grains of silver is a loss of less than 3%. And this was not only during the period of its greatest influence, but even as it declined in power over a period of six centuries.Whatever the secret of the Greeks was, no international currency since then has ever been able to keep its value, even as the government issuing it started on its seemingly inevitable decline.Certainly the conquering Romans were astounded at how the Greeks had mastered money. They paid Greece the ultimate monetary compliment by fashioning their own money, the Roman Denarius, as an exact copy of the Drachma right down to the size and weight. Read more of this post

Gandhiji on Wealth


wealthymatters.com

“It is my conviction that it is possible to acquire riches without consciously doing wrong. For example I may light on a gold mine in my one acre of land. But I accept the proposition that it is better not to desire wealth than to acquire it, and become its trustee. I gave up my own long ago, which should be proof enough of what I would like others to do. But what am I to advise those who are already wealthy or who would not shed the desire for wealth? I can only say to them that they should use their wealth for service.

It is true that generally the rich spend more on themselves than they need. But this can be avoided. Jamnalalji spent far less on himself than men of his own economic status and even than many middle-class men. I have come across innumerable rich persons who are stingy on themselves. For some it is a part of their nature to spend next to nothing on themselves, and they do not think that they acquire merit in so doing.

 The same applies to the sons of the wealthy. Personally, I do not believe in inherited riches. The well-to-do should educate and bring up their children so that they may learn how to be independent. The tragedy is that they do not do so. Their children do get some education, they even recite verses in praise of poverty, but they have no compunction about helping themselves to parental wealth. That being so, I exercise my common sense and advise what is practicable.

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