(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘currency

“When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money”*…

Further to yesterday’s post (about the relevance of Edith Wharton’s observations of her Gilded Age to ours), Dorinda Evans takes a look at rough contemporary of Wharton’s, and at his (similarly relevant) work…

After supposedly stealing 500,000 francs from his bank, the mysterious Victor Dubreuil (b. 1842) turned up penniless in the United States and began to paint dazzling trompe l’oeil images of dollar bills. Once associated with counterfeiting and subject to seizures by the Treasury Department, these artworks [are nowconsidered] unique anti-capitalist visions among the most daring and socially critical of his time…

The fascinating story of Victor Dubreuil’s cryptic currencies and the questions they raise about value and values: “Illusory Wealth,” in @PublicDomainRev.

For an illuminating look at Dubreuil’s spiritual successor, see Lawrence Weschler’s wonderful Boggs: A Comedy of Values.

For a loosely analogous artist: “Nobody knows what a dollar is, what the word means, what holds the thing up, what it stands in for… what the hell are they? What do they do? How do they do it?

And for an appreciation of trompe l’oeil (and its influence on Cubism), see “Feinting Spells.”

* H.L. Mencken

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As we contemplate currency, we might pour a cup of birthday tea for English mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican cleric, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson– better known as the author Lewis Carroll– born on this date in 1832.

“There is no use in trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

– Alice in Wonderland (nee “Alice’s Adventures Underground,” then “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”)

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Oh, and… Happy Mozart’s Birthday!

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 27, 2023 at 1:00 am

“Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience”*…

Regulation often addresses real public needs/concerns. But the costs of compliance often favor the largest players in a regulated market– which can lead to consolidation. From the Oxford Martin School, a current example…

Exploiting the timing and territorial scope of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this paper examines how privacy regulation shaped firm performance in a large sample of companies across 61 countries and 34 industries. Controlling for firm and country-industry-year unobserved characteristics, we compare the outcomes of firms at different levels of exposure to EU markets, before and after the enforcement of the GDPR in 2018. We find that enhanced data protection had the unintended consequence of reducing the financial performance of companies targeting European consumers. Across our full sample, firms exposed to the regulation experienced a 8% decline in profits, and a 2% reduction in sales. An exception is large technology companies, which were relatively unaffected by the regulation on both performance measures. Meanwhile, we find the negative impact on profits among small technology companies to be almost double the average effect across our full sample. Following several robustness tests and placebo regressions, we conclude that the GDPR has had significant negative impacts on firm performance in general, and on small companies in particular…

Privacy Regulation and Firm Performance: Estimating the GDPR Effect Globally,” from @oxmartinschool via @benedictevans

[Image above: source]

* Adam Smith

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As we seek balance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that the U.S. officially withdrew $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills from circulation, pursuant to an executive order by President Richard Nixon. The larger bills had been used by banks and the government for large financial transactions, but had been rendered obsolete by the electronic money transfer system.

Those large-denomination bills were last printed on December 27, 1945 and are still considered legal tender. Indeed, (a version of) the $500 is still used in the game of Monopoly.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 14, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Count my own money, see the paper cut fingers?”*…

A fascinating look, from The Pudding, at who’s on those banknotes…

If you open your wallet right now, who do you see there? You’re probably looking at people who made history in your country. Without even noticing, you’re always carrying around reminders of prominent people in your wallet, but have you ever wondered, who gets to be on banknotes?

In many places, paper money still fails to represent a portion of the population it serves, with many countries preferring to showcase people (usually men) in positions of power or of national acclaim on their banknotes. However, money can also be a platform to uplift the unsung leaders who deserve our gratitude for making our countries what they are. We decided to investigate this imbalance. We gathered data about the people who appear on banknotes around the world, to see what we could learn about them and their countries.

We wanted this analysis to be as international as possible so we inquired into 38 countries from all 22 sub and sub-subregions of the world, based on the United Nations’ Statistics Department geoscheme. Our dataset represents [236 unique banknotes and 241 unique individuals].

The majority of the individuals depicted on banknotes are male [79%].

We looked at their professions and accomplishments, among other characteristics, to understand who is featured on the banknotes of the world, and what it took to get there…

A visual essay about the famous figures who represent today’s currencies around the world: “Who’s in Your Wallet?,” from @puddingviz.

* Drake

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As we count ’em, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863 that Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1864, which changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin– the first piece of U.S. currency to bear (as a result of this legislation) the legend “In God We Trust.”

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April 22, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination”*…

A remarkable true tale from the always-illuminating folks at Planet Money

This is a story about how an economist and his buddies tricked the people of Brazil into saving the country from rampant inflation. They had a crazy, unlikely plan, and it worked.

Twenty years ago, Brazil’s inflation rate hit 80 percent per month. At that rate, if eggs cost $1 one day, they’ll cost $2 a month later. If it keeps up for a year, they’ll cost $1,000…

How Fake Money Saved Brazil,” from @planetmoney and @NPR.

For an even more complete telling, listen to the podcast: “How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we follow the money, we might recall that it was on this date in 1941, in his State of the Union Address, the president Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined the Four Freedoms— the fundamental values of democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. These precepts were furthered by Eleanor Roosevelt, who incorporated them into the Preamble to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 800px-fdr_memorial_wall.jpg
Engraving of the Four Freedoms at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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“In the absence of value judgements, value goes up in flames. And it goes up in a sort of ecstasy.”*…

Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O)”

When Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O)” sold at Christie’s in New York for $179 million dollars in May 2015, it was only the 36th time in the past 315 years that a world auction record had been set, and the sale raised questions well beyond the art world. How could a single painting be worth so much? Why is art so important to wealthy households? What economic and social factors could lead to enshrining Picasso’s colourful near-abstract portrait as the most valuable picture in the history of the modern world?…

Three economists offer an an explanation based on an analysis of art auctions dating back to 1701: “A History of the Art Market in 35 Record-Breaking Sales.”

* Jean Baudrillard

In this sense, therefore, inasmuch as we have access to neither the beautiful nor the ugly, and are incapable of judging, we are condemned to indifference. Beyond this indifference, however, another kind of fascination emerges, a fascination which replaces aesthetic pleasure. For, once liberated from their respective constraints, the beautiful and the ugly, in a sense, multiply: they become more beautiful than beautiful, more ugly than ugly.

Thus painting currently cultivates, if not ugliness exactly – which remains an aesthetic value – then the uglier-than-ugly (the ‘bad’, the ‘worse’, kitsch), an ugliness raised to the second power because it is liberated from any relationship with its opposite. Once freed from the ‘true’ Mondrian, we are at liberty to ‘out-Mondrian Mondrian’; freed from the true naifs, we can paint in a way that is ‘more naif than naif’, and so on. And once freed from reality, we can produce the ‘realer than real’ – hyperrealism. It was in fact with hyperrealism and pop art that everything began, that everyday life was raised to the ironic power of photographic realism. Today this escalation has caught up every form of art, every style; and all, without discrimination, have entered the transaesthetic world of simulation.

There is a parallel to this escalation in the art market itself. Here too, because an end has been put to any deference to the law of value, to the logic of commodities, everything has become ‘more expensive than expensive’ – expensive, as it were, squared. Prices are exorbitant – the bidding has gone through the roof. Just as the abandonment of all aesthetic ground rules provokes a kind of brush fire of aesthetic values, so the loss of all reference to the laws of exchange means that the market hurtles into unrestrained speculation.

The frenzy, the folly, the sheer excess are the same. The promotional ignition of art is directly linked to the impossibility of all aesthetic evaluation.

In the absence of value judgements, value goes up in flames. And it goes up in a sort of ecstasy.

There are two art markets today. One is still regulated by a hierarchy of values, even if these are already of a speculative kind. The other resembles nothing so much as floating and uncontrollable capital in the financial market: it is pure speculation, movement for movement’s sake, with no apparent purpose other than to defy the law of value. This second art market has much in common with poker or potlatch – it is a kind of space opera in the hyperspace of value. Should we be scandalized? No. There is nothing immoral here. Just as present-day art is beyond beautiful and ugly, the market, for its part, is beyond good and evil.

The Transparency of Evil: Essays in Extreme Phenomena

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As we appreciate appreciating art, we might recall that it was on this date in 1862 that (in order to create liquidity to finance the Civil War) the U.S. government issued its first official paper money. “Demand Notes,” the first federal issues of the Civil War, were immediately exchangeable in gold or silver “on demand” at seven banks spread across the country. They were quickly replaced by very similar-looking “legal tender” notes that could not be readily converted to specie. These issues were notable for the bright, dark green imprints on their backs, and ever since then American paper currency has been familiarly nicknamed “greenbacks.”

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 10, 2021 at 1:01 am

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