1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 06
“Only if they’re balanced by down-timers with technical know how,” Judy the Elder said. “One thing we have consistently underestimated is what down-time craftsmen can do.”
“And don’t think we aren’t aware of that.” Karl smiled. “Aside from farming and mining, what would you suggest as the best options?”
“Upgrades in the manufacture of things you’re already producing should come first. Basically, labor-saving devices for small shops. Stamp presses and steam hammers for blacksmiths. Sewing machines for tailors. One of the most important things that does is free up labor for new types of work while increasing your productivity. Freeze dryers, and canning plants for the preservation of foods, so that you lose less of your farming output to spoilage. Both of which will help you avoid inflation.”
“Don’t forget consumer goods,” Judy the Younger added. “Like grooming kits.”
“Grooming kits?” Karl asked. “And why consumer goods?”
“Little pouches or folders that have stuff like fingernail and toenail clippers, nail files, combs, or brushes and maybe a little mirror. Grooming stuff. Why, is because you need to build a consumer base. You need things that are small enough for people to buy, and stuff they will use. Grooming kits in particular, because good grooming is important to how others see you and how you feel about yourself.”
“And because the Barbies have an interest in a company that makes grooming kits,” Sarah added with a look at her sister. Judy the Younger just grinned like an imp. And Karl laughed out loud.
Over the next week the Liechtenstein Industrialization Corporation was formed. The LIC charter had lots of high-sounding rhetoric in it and was officially a nonprofit, which had some tax advantages. It really was a nonprofit. Karl and the family would get their profits on the other end, in increased pieces of the action from the new companies it would help to form and finance. The slogan “with a lic and a promise” was considered for the company but rejected as soon as Karl found out what it meant. It struck just too close to home.
Karl talked to the local Abrabanel representatives about what the LIC was designed to do and how it might be expected to increase revenues in Liechtenstein lands over the next few years by fostering industrial development using up-timer knowledge. He specifically asked that the information be forwarded to the Abrabanel representatives in Vienna.
Then he wrote back to his Uncle Gundaker
I’m sorry, Uncle, but you’re catching me at an inopportune time. I have learned from my stay here that if our properties are not upgraded, the incomes they generate over the next several years will be diminished as they are forced to compete with up-timer influenced lands that produce more for less.
In order to avoid that, I have created the Liechtenstein Industrialization Corporation to introduce up-timer techniques into our lands. While the initial costs of such a program are quite high, in the long run they will much more than pay for themselves. For the moment, however, we are in the expensive part of the proposition and it will be a few years before returns outpace investment.
I have talked to the local Abrabanel representative and he concurs that should the investments I have been making continue, the income derived from our lands should double, at the least, over the next decade or so. However, should I pull the funds already allocated to that endeavor, confidence in that increase would be drastically diminished. Based on that assessment, I am authorizing you to borrow funds up to two hundred thousand Holy Roman guilder at a rate of interest not to exceed six percent annually, secured by the income from our lands in Bohemia and Silesia. I’m sorry it’s not all you asked for and that I must limit the interest to six percent to secure the family’s ability to repay the loans.
There is considerable coal under our lands, Uncle, enough to support a strong and profitable industrial development. To facilitate that development, one of the most important of the general improvements is a wooden rail railroad from Opole to Vienna. This will connect Vienna to the Oder by rail and hence to the Baltic by a combination of rail and river. It will also provide our lands ready access to markets from the Baltic to the Black Sea, politics allowing.
I don’t expect the wooden rails to last long, five to ten years I am told, depending on many factors. However, I consider them an important stopgap measure to facilitate trade until we can develop iron and steel industries and replace the wooden rails with steel. I have written your good wife to ask her authority to facilitate the road in Silesia and hope that you and Uncle Maximillian will use your influence with His Imperial Majesty to facilitate its approval between the border of Silesia and Vienna.
Karl knew that his Uncle Gundaker wasn’t going to be thrilled with his letter. Especially the part where he mentioned that he was appealing directly to Aunt Beth. Also, Gundaker wasn’t going to be all that thrilled with the limits of two hundred thousand guilder and a maximum interest of six percent. Inflation was rearing its ugly head in the USE, but for the most part it had been put off on other currencies, including HRE guilders which were still circulating in the USE. The silver ones, anyway. People were anxious to get American dollars because they were anxious to have what American dollars could buy — or at least that was how it had started. By now, almost everyone in the USE just trusted American dollars. However, the HRE didn’t have that advantage. There were things that you could buy with the HRE guilder more readily than with other currencies, but not nearly as many of them. Besides, HRE guilders based their value on the silver content, and silver had been dropping against the American dollar since its introduction. The HRE was suffering stagflation, because imports from the USE were expensive, but sought after. Karl was right about his Uncle Gundaker’s reaction to his letter. In fact, he underestimated the case by a considerable margin.