Most people I know ignore the business pages of a newspaper – but for those in the know, there is as much vanity, violence and family tragedy in the business pages as anywhere else in the paper – and that’s just Gina Rinehart and family. For sheer vanity and potential for future mishaps, Rupert Murdoch’s succession plans compare favourably with those of King Lear.
Go back 200 years, and things were probably rather similar. Early 19th century Sydney merchants fought with their families (Walter S Davidson), cheated their partners (Robert Campbell), committed suicide (Edward Riley), went bankrupt (Richard Jones). Some even went into politics (Stuart Alexander Donaldson).
All this turmoil generated plenty of paperwork. In her new book, Early Merchant Families of Sydney, Janette Holcomb takes us in a series of forensic biographical chapters through the early history of Sydney’s mercantile elite, from Robert Campbell from the house of Campbell, Clark & Co, who arrived from Calcutta with a cargo of spirits in 1798, to Ben Boyd of the Royal Bank of Australia, who arrived from England with a cargo of credit in 1842. Continue reading
Posted in australian history, Australian Womens Writers Challenge 2014, biography, maritime history, Walter Stevenson Davidson
Tagged #aww2014, Alexander Riley, Ben Boyd, economic history, Janette Holcomb, Richard Jones, Robert Campbell, Stuart Alexander Donaldson, William Paterson
Whatever your attitude towards Christianity, there’s one story from the New Testament that has everyone, believer or non-believer, on Jesus’ side. Matthew 21:12 tells the story of Jesus driving out the money changers from the Temple – and nobody sides with the money changers.
I thought about this the other day when my Visa card statement arrived, showing a whole lot of unexpected transaction charges added to my account from my 3 weeks’ holiday in France. At a time when exchange rates can be calculated and money transferred in the blink of an eye or the blink of a cursor, it seems hard to justify these additional costs. I’ll probably pay up though, since I never check the small print, and paperwork does my head in. More money than sense, really. Continue reading
Posted in australian history, biography, european history, personal and self-indulgent, Walter Stevenson Davidson
Tagged chinese history, credit cards, economic history, history of banking, history of finance, Medici, shroffing, Visa
Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who won a US Senate seat in Massachusetts, is an expert on bankruptcy. Responding to Governor Romney’s statement that ‘Corporations are people’, she replied:
No…corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters… because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.
The quote is everywhere; it even made it into a Doonesbury cartoon here.
Doonesbury cartoon, 7 November 2012
Meanwhile the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, worked as a derivatives trader for corporations – Elf Aquitaine and Enterprise Oil – before he changed course and decided to join the ministry in 1989. His dissertation at theological college was on the topic ‘Can companies sin?’ – to which he answered Yes. He recently told the Guardian: