Unquiet Musings


Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 6:21am

The smaller country sat astride a fault-line. While not exactly a recently developed one, the line had moved back a few countries in the past few decades. Its neighbor was much larger, and a rising new-old power that had set its sights on reclaiming what it considered part of its homeland. Centuries of shared culture and language, not to mention shared rulers and borders, combined with the actual intent of many in the small country made conditions ripe for the rising empire to make its move.


Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 6:02am

A long, long time ago (not so long, really), around 400M people lived in a strange, double-tiered system. The currency issued by the state was pure scrip, forced into being by the will of the committees ruling the lands. It was not convertible into any currency used by other countries EXCEPT those within the same trade zone, and then only generally with restrictions. Nothing could be bought from any other country, except those within the trade zone.

Since both supply and price was centrally controlled, even those items which WERE being manufactured were often scarce goods. Having cash was not enough to make a purchase, you had to be friends with the store manager, the butcher, the department store clerk (or know someone who WAS), so the item would be reserved for you (generally in exchange for a surcharge or an owed favor).

Plunder and Pillage (extended remix)

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:06am

There is an oft overlooked global empire that has had rather bad PR over the centuries, and is little-remembered in history books beyond brief mention. While having earned the reputation of sadistic, homicidal maniacs in the public lore of Europe, there was a method to the Mongol madness.

The horde being sent to conquer new vassals these days is not (for the most part) a physical set of boots and hooves on the ground, but rather the tentacles of finance. I wanted to share a possible bright spot and (grudgingly acknowledged) positive example of trying to stand up the monetary machine.

Ides of March

Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 5:21am

Pretty much everyone here knows (or should know) the story of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and the sealed train provided by the German government that brought him to St. Petersburg. Whether it truly WAS the government itself, or industrialist and bankers (and of WHICH country) matters little – the Soviet propaganda films did not lie about the fact that the shot from the Aurora truly WAS heard around the world.

However, here’s a fun little fact I am pretty sure most people don’t know...

Shadow Theater

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 5:48am

Looking upon the current and recent events in world affairs, it may seem like the West is stumbling from one miscalculation into another. I would caution against assumptions that the currently unfolding scenario has not been simulated, run and re-run, and on continuous loop since at least the last few days (if not weeks, months and years).

Echoes and Rhymes

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 7:50pm

A playful look at how closely history rhymes. The analogy only goes so far, the situation and circumstances are significantly different in their details. But the similarities are eerie. One thing is for sure: never, EVER trust a neighboring (super)power which comes bearing gifts and promising sovereignty -- nor a far-away superpower offering 'moral support' and 'forceful condemnation' -- let alone hinting at military support.

The truly oldest 'profession'

Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 2:37am

Thought starter on the possibilities of non-currency transactions. Despite the countless lurid tangents such a title might inspire, I have no desire to talk too much about prostitution. It is rather the core element of barter itself that has been on my mind quite a bit recently.

Astroturf war

Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 3:56am

The concurrent investigations from regulatory bodies in the UK , Germany and the US are somewhat coincidental, both in the areas of foreign currency trading, gold and silver trading and derivatives. The fact that major banks are divesting themselves of commodity trading platforms and units (not to mention warehouses and VAULTS) also has nothing to do with any of the ongoing violence. The (quickly retracted) trial balloon of Ms. Masters on the CFTC advisory panel is also pure coincidence. Why would anyone think there is a muscling-out going on as we speak?

Work 'til you drop

Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 4:39am

No need to worry about which mutual fund to pick. No headaches about whether you can buy HUI or short bonds inside your account. No need to worry your pretty little head about anything, your friendly benevolent government will take care of EVERYTHING for you. It’s Guaranteed by the Government ™. And of course, for those who so choose to remain reckless and take needless risks, individual IRAs and Roth IRAs are still available. For now…

Ukraine redux - Photo essays about revolution in Kyiv/Kiev (updated with 1/27 series)

Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 7:35pm

This is a follow-on post to my initial article from yesterday. Photographer and blogger Ilya Varlamov put together a remarkable series of photo essays of events on the ground in Kiev, Ukraine from the last week or so (since January 22). They say a picture says a thousand words -- it certainly rings true in this particular case. There are reports from both sides of the barricades.

This post is VERY LONG (in column-inch terms, due to lots of photos) so please be prepared for that if reading on a smartphone or tablet.