(Roughly) Daily

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“Money doesn’t talk, it swears”*…


In 1858, the United States was an industrializing nation with a banking system stuck in frontier times… Heated battles over ‘the money question’ came to dominate the country’s politics, but no matter how unsatisfied the people, any solution that tended toward centralization was, due to the prevailing prejudice, off the table.

America was a monetary Babel with thousands of currencies; each state regulated its own banks and they collectively provided the country’s money. Officially, America was on a hard-money basis, but the amount of gold in circulation was insignificant…

And therein hangs a terrific tale, “Printing Money,” an excerpt from America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve in the always worthy Delancey Street; read it here.

* Bob Dylan


As we bite our coins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that money market deposit accounts were first offered by banks and S&Ls across the U.S.  Pioneered in the early 70s by brokerage houses, the accounts were a way around the Regulation Q prohibition on interest payments n demand accounts.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

From the Department of Fantasy Fulfillment…

Patrick Combs actually did something that most of us have only imagined doing:  he deposited one of the phony, “not negotiable” checks included in the junkmail that swells our recycling… And the check cleared.

As he explains in the Financial Times,

It was a cheque, made out in my name, for $95,093.35 and it came in a junk-mail letter from a get-rich-quick company. It was worthless, meant only as a financial tease, a lip-licking come-on. “This is how much money you could soon be making.” What it was never meant for was deposit. But that’s exactly what made the thought of depositing it so irresistibly funny. What could possibly be funnier than depositing a perfectly ridiculous, obviously false, fake cheque? (Did I mention it had “non-negotiable” clearly written on it?) So, as a joke, I deposited the fake cheque into my bank’s ATM. I felt like a million bucks doing so. I’d never had so much fun at my bank. Come to think of it, I’d never had any fun at my bank until the moment I endorsed the back of this “cheque” with a smiley face and slipped the Monopoly-like money into the mouth of the hungry ATM. For the first time ever, I walked away from my bank laughing.

What I expected to happen next was a short phone call from my bank. Or a letter informing me of what I already knew, that the cheque I deposited was not real. Admittedly, I also hoped for a compliment on my refined sense of humour. A “Mr Combs, what you deposited was not real but very funny, especially considering your real bank account balance history” (an account always bouncing into overdraft).

But the call or the letter never came and I forgot about my joke. Then, five days later, I returned to withdraw some cash from the ATM, and noticed a much higher than usual bank balance. $95,093.35 higher! The bank had credited my account with the fake, false, stupid cheque!…

Vicariously live the good life at the FT, or here— or see Patrick’s one-man show, “Man 1, Bank 0.”


As we reconsider those sweepstakes mailings, we might spare a carefully-regulated thought for Edmond “According to…” Hoyle; he died on this date in 1769.  An expert on whist– all the rage in the 18th Century– Hoyle tutored members of high society on the game.  He converted his notes into a books, which became a best seller, then moved on to other games (backgammon, piquet, chess, and quadrille).  Hoyle never actually wrote an encyclopedic rule book.  But as his name had become synonymous with canonical reference, “Hoyle’s Rules of Games” became a standard title (as “Webster’s” later did in the lexicographical sphere), and “according to Hoyle” passed into use as a testament to its subject’s adherence to rules or concordance with highest authority.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 29, 2012 at 1:01 am

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