Tuesday, April 09, 2013

John Law

John Law 1720
John Law is considered to be the innovator of our current financial system. He was an improbable and controversial financial hero. He stood over six foot tall, which would have made him stand out in the 18th century without his extraordinary and revolutionary ideas.
He was a gambler and man about town and was forced to flee from London to the Continent because he killed a man in the duel.
John lived on the money he won gambling his way across Europe. He became fascinated by finance as he travelled around France. He came up with an idea that was as revolutionary as the French liberators.
Law realised that it wasn't just Louis XIV being extravagant that was bankrupting the country, the real problem was the lack of available cash. In his opinion there was never enough physical gold and silver coin available. He reasoned that if this store of actual wealth would be lent out in the form of paper money then the credit could be used to increase the opportunities for making more money.
This radical idea was opposed by powerful people but his persistence eventually won through and in 1716, with the King's backing, he set up the first French bank to issue paper currency. This move created a company that enriched its shareholders and the word "millionaire" was coined to describe them.
I was fascinated to read about this charismatic young man whose brilliant mathematical mind changed the way the world of the 18th century worked.
"He came to Paris, where he cut such a fine figure, that he held the bank at Faro. He usually played at the house of a famous actress, where they played a high-stakes; although he was a in as great demand with Princes and Lords of the first order, as in the most celebrated academies, where his noble manners and even temper, distinguished him from other players."
Barthelemy Marmont du Hautchamp,
Histoire du systeme de finances. (1739)

On another, and far less interesting subject, I'd like to let you all know that I have just released a box-set of three of my Regency romantic adventures. Jane Dixon-Smith designed the cover and as usual it is great.
£1.99 from Amazon.


Francine Howarth said...

A gem subject to write about,Fenella, as are many more lesser known gentlemen of the Georgian & Regency beau monde: respectively. ;)

Fenella J Miller said...

I looked thourhg my shelves of research books and found this - amazing what things one has hidden away.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

John Law sounds as though he'd be absolutely at home in the world of banking today. He has the right, slightly dodgy, CV!