Paulson - the John Law of the 21st century?

Question: Will Paulson's (and his puppy dog Bernanke) reckless actions lead to a run on the US Dollar and Tresuries? And lead to a revolution in the US?

Question: Who is John Law?


Law's "Real Bills Doctrine" of money applied the "reflux principle" to the money supply. Money, Law argued, was credit and credit was determined by the "needs of trade". Consequently, the amount of money in existence is determined not by the imports of gold or trade balances (as the Mercantilists argued), but rather on the supply of credit in the economy. And money supply (in opposition to the Quantity Theory) is endogenous, determined by the "needs of trade".

Law's schemes were launched on the basis of this logic. Exiled in Europe because of a duel, Law ingratiated himself into the French court through patronage and friendship of the Regent, the Duke of Orleans. The state of French finances after Louis XIV's death in 1715 was so dismal that the Duke turned to Law for assistance. Law proposed the establishment of a state-chartered bank with the power to issue unbacked paper currency, the Banque Générale, which was established in 1716. Around the same time, Law also established the Mississippi Company, an enterprise designed to develop the then-French colony of Louisiana in North America.
Law's note-issuing bank was a spectacular success -- until it collapsed after a bank run in 1720, plunging France and Europe into a severe economic crisis, which had an important role in setting the stage for the later French Revolution.
Answer: From WikiPedia:
The wars waged by Louis XIV left the country completely wasted, both economically and financially. [...] It was in this context that the regent, Philippe d'Orléans, appointed John Law, as Controller General of Finances.
In May 1716 the Banque Générale Privée ("General Private Bank"), which developed the use of paper money was set up by Law. It was a private bank, but three quarters of the capital consisted of government bills and government accepted notes.
The Banque Royale was created by default as a result of Law attaining the majority of the government issued notes (debt). It effectively became the Central bank of France. In 1720 the bank and company were united and Law was appointed Controller General of Finances to attract capital. Law's pioneering note-issuing bank was extremely successful until it collapsed and caused an economic crisis in France and across Europe.
Law exaggerated the wealth of Louisiana with an effective marketing scheme, which led to wild speculation on the shares of the company in 1719. In February 1720 it was valued for a very high future cash flow at 10,000 livres. Shares rose from 500 livres in 1719 to as much as 15,000 livres in the first half of 1720, but by the summer of 1720, there was a sudden decline in confidence, leading to a 97 per cent decline in market capitalization by 1721. Predictably, the 'bubble' burst at the end of 1720, when opponents of the financier attempted en masse to convert their notes into specie. By the end of 1720 Philippe II dismissed Law, who then fled from France.
Law initially moved to Brussels in impoverished circumstances. He spent the next few years gambling in Rome, Copenhagen and Venice but never regained his former prosperity. Law realised he would never return to France when Phillipe II died suddenly in 1723 and was granted permission to return to London having received a pardon in 1719. He lived in London for four years and then moved to Venice where he contracted pneumonia and died a poor man in 1729.


Knute Rife said...

Paulson will not die a poor man.

pej said...

Knute Rife:
Interesting remark, indeed.

Though, if his true to himself, he doesn't own any gold and has sold all his GS shares. Which means he downs dollars and maybe treasuries. If the USD collapses (bringing down the treasuries as well), who knows, maybe he will die a poor man?