Posts Tagged ‘Bankers


Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger says everything you need to know about bankers

Warren Buffet’s right-hand man:

Berkshire Hathaway Caricatures“You can’t trust bankers to govern themselves. A banker who’s allowed to borrow money at X and loan it out at X plus Y will just go crazy and do too much of it, if the civilization doesn’t have rules that prevent it.”

 “What happened in Cyprus was very similar to what happened in Iceland, it was stark raving mad in both cases. And the bankers, they’d be doing even more if the thing hadn’t blown up. I do not think you can trust bankers to control themselves. They’re like heroin addicts.”


The mystery of the vanishing Fugger Newsletters

I have been re-reading George T. Matthews’ selection of archives of the Fugger Newsletters and wondering why they seem to have been so thoroughly overlooked. They are, in style and content, the forerunners of what we find on the Web today: An idiosyncratic description of events around the world that are frequently illuminating whether or not they are factual.

The Fuggers were the bankers to many of the Catholic monarchies – especially the Hapsburgs — in the 15th & 16th centuries. The Newsletters were started by Count Philip Eduard Fugger for an audience of one – himself. Matthews explains it best:

Even in the 2nd part of the 16th century, the Fugger interests were world-wide in scope. Partners, factors, clients and servants of the firm were located in nearly all the commercial and political capitals of Europe, Spanish America, Mediterranean Africa and the Orient. … It would seem when the Fugger representatives abroad learned of the Count’s extraordinary interest in the news, quite routine dispatches were fleshed out with whatever information on whatever subject the agents could obtain.

The Count saved these and augmented them with information both from the rumor sheets of the day, called Neue-Zeitungen, and professionally compiled news reports known as Nouvellanten. As a result the newsletters are filled with descriptions of events great and trivial – from coronations to street crimes. One of my favorites concerns an attempt by creditors to seize someone who was playing Jesus in a church festival by using someone else who was dressed up as – wait for it – Judas.

Much of what is written about concerns issues today known to few people who don’t specialize in the history of this period, but that is no matter. I read them for the stories and the glimpse into worlds easily as strange as anything our science fiction and fantasy writers have created. I have never read of anything as lavish or opulent as the 51 day festival in Constantinople by the Sultan Morad in honor of the circumcision of his 16-year-old son Mehemed in 1582.

On the third day various artificially created objects were exhibited, among them about three hundred large figures of animals, made of sugar. This lasted until midday, thereafter gifts were presented to all the Ambassadors who had been invited by His Majesty. The Hippodrome was sprinkled by twenty water wagons. A juggler performed there, he hit himself in the face with a stone with all his strength without any harm resulting therefrom. Another executed bold somersaults and was masked. Both were presented with gifts from His Majesty. The Sultan ordered seven thousand flat cakes made out of cooked rice to be brought, also six thousand large loaves of bread and great quantities of mutton. When all this was spread upon the ground, all the poor came rushing in the greatest haste to get hold of the food, and this proved a very entertaining sight. Thereafter was held a hunt of Hungarian boars. In the evening there were once more illuminations and fireworks.

And there are forty-eight more days to go each, as they say, better than the one before it. It is hard for me to imagine a better source material for any writer interested in creating worlds far different from his or her own. Continue reading ‘The mystery of the vanishing Fugger Newsletters’


The Ministry of Culture is a blog (duh!) about whatever interests me, a professional journalist. It looks at current events, culture -- rock & roll, literature, roller derby, opera, comedy -- military history and whatever else crosses my path. All opinions are my own.


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