Spain (Too much wealth is a problem)

Too little gold/wealth was always scary. The kingdom with empty coffers were always on the verge of annihilation. They never had money to build defenses, raise armies/navies, build cities/roads/ships/canals, import food (in case of drought) or even pay tribute so that the lives of its citizens would be spared. However people never realized that too much wealth can also be a problem.

Spain and Portugal, by the 1500, has discovered massive sources of gold and silver in the New World (Latin America). It won’t be wrong to say that the half of the world’s gold flowed through Spain. Yet in 1557 and then in 1597 Spanish Government was bankrupt.

The influx of gold from Caesar’s campaign in Gaul caused a plunge in the value of gold by over 25%. Its no wonder that the strongest nation in the world faced a civil war soon afterwards which destroyed the republic for ever.

It was only after 1568, that people realized the problems of too much wealth. Jean Bodin (1530-1596), a French lawyer, writing in 1568, while analyzing the the inflationary effect of the (Latin) American money concluded
there were several reasons for the rising prices in the sixteenth century but that “the principal and almost the only one
(which no one has referred to until now) is the abundance of gold and silver, which is today much greater in this kingdom than it was four hundred years ago”.

However, there was little one could do about it. Take Spain for example. There are tonnes of silver and gold in the New World which was getting mined, and shipped to Europe. Because of this sudden influx of gold, nothing was too expensive. The demand and the prices of goods rose many folds, but in that Pre-Industrial age, the production of goods could not be scaled up. Hence, this demand resulted in increase of wages making production to be commercially inviable in the whole of Spain.

The situation was so bad that by 1590, 80 per cent of all goods shipped from Spain to its new colonies were goods that had already been imported from elsewhere in Europe. (source)
England and rest of the Europe on contrast build manufacturing capabilities. They used their colonies as a source of raw materials and a destination for manufactured goods. Making their economy more robust.

This manufacturing capabilities fueled the industrial revolution and made their economies stronger. Hence, even after the loss of major colonies, other European Counties were not suddenly reduced to poverty. In contrast, Spanish grew weaker because of too much wealth. Their wealth forced them to fight too many costly battles which emptied their coffers. The Britisher Privateers disrupted the supply of gold using Guerrilla tactics and weakened the empire. Finally the Spanish Armada was defeated and Spain lost control of the High seas and the New world reducing them to almost nobody in the arena of Wealth, Power and Influence.



Indian Bankruptcy laws

I have been hearing again and again of people driven to suicide by loan collectors or in this peculiar news, defaulters killing their bankers.

But have you noticed one thing in common among all these defaulters…. NONE of them had filed for bankruptcy….WHY?

In a business losing money does not mean that you had embezzled funds.
80% of the business fail due to cash flow problems and those can be over come by talking to bankers to extend the loan, or with the help of a short term loan from friends and family.
rest of the business usually failed as a result of non conducive market scenario and is part of the learning process.

I agree that in traditional societies like India, being fired from the job or failure in your latest venture makes you the center of the town gossip… but who cares about the world… you have responsibility towards your family, your kids and killing yourself/banker does not solve the problem.
Try talking to your banker to extend the loan tenure, sell off some of the assets and see if you start over again… if you still cannot.. then don’t be shy, ask for help… you will be surprised to know it coming from unlikeliest of the places. Friends and family might help you because they know you are a good man. More often then not acquaintance often pinch in. Often its a pure business deal, where they pump in money in return of sale of assets/partnership… sometimes they do it because they have faith in your business skills and they know that this is a temporary phase.. in future you will not only succeed, but will be gratitudeous.

If nothing works, then don’t start your evasive tactics… Declare bankruptcy, take the assistance of the law and discharge your loans and live life honorably.

India has bankruptcy laws dating as old as 1874… and today’s law clearly demarcates the business/company’s assets from the personal assets… it distinguishes between the assets of the family and your assets and has all the features that allows you to write-off the loan once and for all and start again. Once you start the bankruptcy proceedings, the bank will audit you, you might be asked to visit the court/negotiation table a couple of times… but can no longer harass for the dues…

Lastly a quote from Rich Dad, Poor Dad
“Being Broke is temporary, but being poor is eternal”