First credit crunch traced back to Roman republic

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

Politicians searching for historical precedents for the current financial turmoil should start looking a bit further back after an Oxford University historian discovered what he believes is the world’s first credit crunch in 88BC.

The good news is that Philip Kay knows how the Romans got themselves into financial bother. The bad news is no one knows how they got themselves out of it.

“The essential similarity between what happened 21 centuries ago and what is happening in today’s UK economy is that a massive increase in monetary liquidity culminated with problems in another country causing a credit crisis at home. In both cases distance and over-optimism obscured the risk,” said Kay, a supernumerary fellow at Wolfson College.

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Citigroup collapses! Banking Shutdown Possible

by Dr. Martin D. Weiss

Global Research, November 25, 2008

It pains me deeply to announce that, despite the massive government rescue, yesterday’s collapse of Citigroup could ultimately lead to a shutdown of the global banking system.

For many years, I hoped this would never happen, and I thought we might be able to avoid it.

Indeed, that’s why, my firm, Weiss Research, first began rating the safety of the nation’s banks in the early 1980s, and why I later founded Weiss Ratings, a separate subsidiary dedicated exclusively to safety ratings — on thousands of banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, mutual funds and stocks.

I subsequently sold the Weiss Ratings subsidiary to Jim Cramer’s organization, TheStreet.com; and today, my former company is called TheStreet.com Ratings. I continue to own and run Weiss Research, Inc., the publisher of Money and Markets. Moreover, Weiss Research continues to review all financial institutions for their safety; and to support that effort, we acquire TheStreet.com’s ratings and data for our analysts.

For you, the benefit is that you can now get these independent and accurate ratings for free on the Internet. Plus, you can check our free updated lists of the strongest and weakest bank and insurance companies on our Money and Markets website.

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Gold at $14,172 an ounce?

by Brian Bloom, Beyond Neanderthal

There are those who have been arguing vociferously for some years now that the world will be better off under a gold standard.

These people may or may not be correct, but we need to understand the implications of what a gold standard will bring with it.

Some years ago, the Bank Credit Analyst published a chart of the actual gold price relative to the theoretical gold price as derived from the USA’s “Net Liquid Liabilities”.

Theoretically, the BCA argued, if all the liquid assets of the sovereign USA –  excluding  gold bullion – were sold and the proceeds applied to pay off all the liquid sovereign liabilities, then – because there would be a shortfall – this net number would be the “Net Liquid Liabilities”. For the USA to remain a solvent entity, they argued, the price of gold per ounce would need to be the net liquid liability number divided by the number of ounces of gold held in the US gold reserves.

(It should be remembered that a US Dollar Bill is a promissory note issued by the US Federal Reserve. It is therefore a liquid liability)

For a period leading up to the late 1970s, the BCA tracked the theoretical price of gold relative to the actual price and found a tight correlation. That’s when the world still believed in a gold standard and that’s also when the US Fed (and other Central Banks) began to interfere in the gold markets with the objective of deliberately obfuscating/severing this relationship.

So let’s take a leaf out of the BCA’s book. Just for the hell of it, let’s assume that the USA’s liquid assets today equal its liquid liabilities excluding US Dollars in circulation. It would follow, therefore, that the price of gold would need to be the number of dollars in world currency reserves divided by the number of ounces of gold in the official US bullion reserves. (This assumes that the gold is still there. No verification audits have been done for decades.)

Okay, it’s a simple calculation:

Step 1: Quantifying the US’s Gold Reserves

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