23 December 2010

From Florence to Houston

Below is an outline for the second chapter as represented in the table of contents for my projected book.

I've already done the same for the first chapter. We will focus here on the institution of lending money for a fixed rate of interest: this is "usury" or "riba" to its foes.

I. Renaissance Florence
A. Theology, Damnation, and Evasion
B. The Rise of the Medici

II. The North of Europe
A. Luther on usury
B. Calvin
C. Calvinism in the Lowlands
D. London and the Classical Economists

III. Colonies and States
A. Debt in the Colonies
B. Debt and the Founders
C. The Post-Classical Economics of Henry George

Here I will make in essence the points I sought to make in this blog on November 19, 2010.

D. Leverage, the Business Cycle, and Enron

The difficulties that arise when finance becomes too disconnected from the physical world, when an excess of liquidity gives rise to dreams of infinite leverage, are well illustrated in the rise and fall of the now infamous energy-trading firm, and it is a cautionary tale we should heed even this early in our study.

We have addressed thus far the fundamental ideas of speculation and leverage (i.e. debt). We need to introduce the final key idea from our subtitle, regulation: and we will do that in the next chapter.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.