2.16.2012

A Dickens of a Reminder

Now, as the home page Google Doodle reminds us all, two hundred years since the birth of Charles Dickens.

The author is not only the greatest novelists of the English inexhaustible Victoria. He is also a clever writer with an interest in finance. In 1842, Dickens - who is known on both sides of the ocean as the author of Oliver Twist and The Old Curiosity Shop - came to the U.S. for a lecture tour. Of course, as Mark would do two decades later, Dickens tour turned into an opportunity to compile a book about what he saw and experienced.

The result is American Notes, Dickens journey where no punches on the financial situation of the United States lost cause. In the middle of the night in Philadelphia, looking across the street at an exciting vision:

"... A beautiful white marble building, with a melancholy, like a ghost, sad to see .... I quickly asked her name and destination, and then disappeared from the shock. This is the Tomb of the fate of many, the Great Catacomb of investment, a large U.S. bank "

That the Second Bank of the United States, which had been damaged earlier in the year 1841 under the weight of bad loans, year after Pres Andrew Jackson tried to end it.

Today, Americans and Europeans alike forget the 1840's. The U.S. is one of the deepest downturn in its history. A, reckless debt-fueled housing bubble burst in 1837. Many investors in U.S. real estate bond leverage is English. After pumping millions of dollars in taxes for the "improvement plan" such as channels and banks specializing in financing of land, nine U.S. states eliminated the city's debt - and five rejected their debt, refused to pay creditors.

According to an excellent new book, The Great Depression America First: the economic crisis and subsequent political panic disorder, 1837, by historian Roberts, Alasdair, UK fiscal recklessness is tempered by the United States. A British diplomat, Lord Ashburton, in the United States called The Times of London thundered in May 1842 "unruly mob anarchy and it's uncontrollable.": "For the truth and clear about the political economy was rejected with scorn by the legislature ... Obvious interests of society are sacrificed to the passions and prejudices of the people. "A good investment banker James Rothschild said the United States is not responsible for what is not" borrow dollars or dollars. "

After touring in the mid-Atlantic states, Dickens headed west. He visited Cairo, Illinois, a city at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi in 1836 was promoted as an industrial and commercial center in the future .. British investors have seized millions of pounds in developing bonds of Cairo - all defaulted and the state of Illinois who took them.

In Chapter XII of the American Notes, Dickens describes Cairo as a writer only with friends who invested in bonds in the standard are:

"... We achieved a second place to the left of what we have seen, that forlornest place where it happened, that is, compared to him, full of flowers. At the junction of two rivers, on land as flat and low and marshy, that at certain times of year it is flooded to the roof of the house, is still an area of ​​increasing fever, malaria, and death, pride in the United Kingdom as Golden Hope mine, and speculate about the faith that many representations of the problem. A dismal swamp, where the half-built houses rot: cleared here and there by the space of a few meters, and full, and then classify the poor crops, poor shadow of a criminal drifter who tempted Mari, wither and die, and lay their bones; hate Mississippi Eddying spinning and before that, and just turn off the south a slimy monster hideous to look at, plague, an ugly sepulcher, the tomb uncheered for any glimmer of promise: a place that not one single quality, in earth or air or water, I recommend: Cairo, so this bleak ".

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