1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 18

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 18

Uriel nodded. “I agree. But that was then, and this is now. Now everyone knows that up-timers can create money and that money is good. I think as long as you didn’t increase the money supply too much, just Sarah Wendell von Up-time would be enough to provide credibility.”

“I hate that expression,” Sarah said, referring to the “von Up-time.” It was a tag that the Daily News had put on up-timers with an op-ed piece that claimed that they were the true nobility. And it was becoming fairly popular with some up-timers and a lot of down-timers. “And, like I said before, I am not looking for a job. Besides, even if the person you get to head your bank were an up-timer, even if it was Coleman Walker or my dad, it wouldn’t make any difference if everyone thought the king could order them to print more money.”

Uriel and Morris were both nodding. Uriel said, “It must be arranged so that the continued value of the money is given precedence over the short-term gain from just adding more.”

“And it must be seen that that is the case,” Sarah said. “Your Majesty, you need someone that people will trust and who will argue with you. Publicly.”

By now King Al was looking at Morris Roth. Don Morris shook his head. “I’m too closely associated with you, Your Majesty. I’m not sure people would accept my independence.”

“What about Dame Judith?” Uriel Abrabanel was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“Fine. But you tell her!” Morris Roth snorted in return.

“Actually, that’s not a bad idea.” Karl looked Morris Roth in the eye. “She is both an up-timer and Jewish. And prejudice works for us here. Everyone knows that the up-timer money is better than silver and everyone knows that Jews are tight with money. If none of the money goes to her, and if the Abrabanels support her, the rest of the Jewish community will too. It could work quite well. Especially if Don Morris were to publicly complain about the appointment, because he doesn’t want to be caught in the middle when Your Majesty and his stubborn wife butt heads.”

“You’re crazy. I don’t know a thing about monetary policy and Judith knows even less. Well, not much more, anyway.”

“What she doesn’t know, she can learn,” Uriel said. He wasn’t laughing now. “And she will have excellent advisors. What we have learned about monetary theory from the up-timers’ books is valuable, but the truth is that no true economists came back in the Ring of Fire, with all due respect to Sarah here. By now members of my extended family know as much or more about how money works as any up-timer does. What we need is the belief in money, and that your wife can provide simply because she is an up-timer. Prince Karl is quite correct, and it has other advantages as well. A Jewish woman with a position of great authority will be another assurance that Your Majesty means it when you say that Jews will be treated equally in your kingdom. Both for the Jews and for the Gentiles, and it will set a valuable precedent for women in the Jewish community.”

Morris Roth was clearly looking for a good reason to squash the idea, but it was equally clear that he wasn’t finding one that would hold water. “Fine. You tell her,” he said again.

“I’ll tell her,” King Al said. “In the meantime, Prince, tell us about this Liechtenstein Industrialization Corporation of yours.”

****

Over the next few days they talked about what railroads, even wooden railroads, and other bits of advanced tech would do for the Liechtenstein lands in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. As Karl had expected, King Al didn’t really have a problem with what Karl wanted to do. What he wanted was a public swearing of fealty that included Gundaker von Liechtenstein’s domains of Kromau and Ostra. Which is sure to thrill Uncle Gundaker, Karl thought sardonically. “Why Ostra, Your Majesty?”

“If Ferdinand insists that he can grant Kromau in Moravia, I can grant Ostra in Hungary.” King Al gave Karl a cold little smile. “I imagine that when it’s finally settled, your uncle will end up with Ostra and you’ll keep Kromau.” As it worked out, the part about Ostra was mumbled a bit in the swearing and buried in the fine print in the documents, but that was at King Al’s insistence. “I don’t want to make a big thing of it. It’s just a negotiating ploy to let Ferdinand save a bit of face when he finally acknowledges that I rule Bohemia and Moravia.”

Roth House, Prague

“He wants me to do what?” Judith Roth looked stunned and Sarah tried not to smile. They were in the Roth’s huge salon. There were etchings on the walls and conversation nooks scattered around the walls.

“It wasn’t my idea.” Morris walked over to a down-time made recliner. “On the other hand, their reasoning was fairly sound.”

“I don’t know anything about running a federal reserve.”

“You probably don’t want a federal reserve system.” Sarah looked around trying to figure out where to sit. “We have a modified one in the USE, because we got it from the SoTF, which got it from the New US, which got it from the USA up-time. And the up-time Fed was a disorganized mess which was developed out of a compromise between a whole bunch of people with very strong opinions about monetary policy and not a lot of understanding of it. It’s a mare’s nest of conflicting regulations. You probably want something closer to a Bank of England system, with the government owning a lot of non-voting interest in the bank. Interest that can’t be sold or borrowed against, but just pays dividends when the bank makes a profit.”

“So why aren’t you . . . ?” Mrs. Roth waved Sarah to a couch.

“I don’t live here, Mrs. Roth,” Sarah said. “I can help you set it up while I’m here, but not do it for you.”

“I don’t even know what we should call our money.”

“Dollars or thalers is probably simplest. I wouldn’t call them Albrechts or Wallensteins,” Sarah said, then she grinned. “You could go all science fictiony and call them credits.”

Judith shuddered. “Not the way the Catholic church feels about usury. I think just ‘Bohemian dollars’ will be best.”

“So how many dollars to a HRE thaler?” Sarah asked.

“Shouldn’t we just let it float?” Judith Roth asked.

“Yes, certainly. But a big part of your job will be to help set the value by controlling how many Bohem–” Sarah grinned. “–‘boys’ are in circulation.”

Judith Roth wasn’t pleased to be appointed to head the Bohemian National Bank, but Bohemia did need money that people would have faith in.

As it turned out, Sarah had plenty of time to work with Judith Roth and Uriel Abrabanel on designing the structure of the new national bank of Bohemia. Enough time for King Albrecht von Wallenstein to yield his right to create money to the bank, in the interest of a stable and prosperous nation. She had the time, because it took a while for Karl to arrange the visit to his aunt in Cieszyn.

 

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20 Responses to 1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 18

  1. Lyttenstadt says:

    “Bohemian Dollars”? Really?

    [Sigh]

    And this is gonna be a new “canon”?

    Say, what about calling new money “Crowns”? Austria had “Crowns” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austro-Hungarian_krone, Czechoslovakia, and then Czech Republic and Slovakia both had “Crowns”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czechoslovak_koruna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_koruna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovak_koruna

    But noooooooo! Let’s be “super original” and call it a “dollar”! Say, what are the chances of the native (and not English speaking… not even always German speaking) population of actually calling “dollar” a “dollar” in the 17 c. Bohemia and Moravia?

    What, authors didn’t know about all this “Crown/Koruna” thing? Or, just as always, didn’t care?

    • Bjorn Hasseler says:

      Or maybe, since the word dollar derives from thaler which in turn comes from Joachimsthaler which was minted in St. Joachim’s Valley, Bohemia in 1518, it’s singularly appropriate. It’s a native Bohemian currency with the connotation that it’ll be stable like the up-time currency.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        Then why not call it “taller”?

        • Steve Winkler says:

          They’re called dollars because the up-timers use dollars.

          They’re selling the mystique of paper money. The USE dollar has credibility already so they’re building on that. It’s an up-timer currency with an up-timer in charge of setting it up.

          So, it’s because they didn’t care what OTL money was called.

          • Lyttenstadt says:

            There is no “mystique of paper money”. People in this parts know what it is and already don’t trust it. Just renaming it won’t work a miracle of creating an “all trusting to up-timers” Czechs.

        • John Cowan says:

          Taler (the spelling thaler came later, and doesn’t reflect German pronunciation in any way) is the High German equivalent of Low German daler, from which English dollar is derived. The word was originally applied in English to Spanish dollars, also called “pieces of eight” because you could physically break them into eight pieces, the origin of the name “two bits” for a quarter of a dollar. The American founders adopted it because it was a known word for currency with no British associations.

          The ultimate origin, as we know, is from Tal or Joachimstal, a town in Bohemia whose name means “[St. Joachim’s] valley”. The silver from which the original talers were made was found there around 1500, and Marie Curie discovered radium in ore from Joachimstal. It’s now called J├íchymov in Czech.

    • Robert Krawitz says:

      It gets back to appearances.

      “Dollar” is uptime, with all the mystique that entails — a modern currency supervised by hard-nosed uptime experts. “Crown” implies that it’s tied to the crown — to Wallenstein, which is exactly what they want to avoid.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        Oh, please! Down-timers are not bunch of primitives that can be easily distracted by the heap of glass-beads in the form of some “dollars”. Bohemia is not Germany. Authors repeatedly overexploited “Awe effect” of the uo-timers, to justify just about everything.

        You may be highly decorated hero and belong to the “select few” of this new world. It doesn’t override the human nature in others.

        This plan is weak and idea of calling of the new national currency in Bohemia and Moravia “dollar” is borderline offensive.

  2. daveo says:

    Maybe they can call it a thaler.

    The idea that a woman, and a jew woman can issue paper currency and control the issue is not all that likely to be successful. Despite anything Wallenstein says, there will be plenty of people who don’t believe in the competence of women, and can’t be persuaded. And never mind what they think of Jews.

    More generally, Goodlett and Huff underrate the difficulty of getting people to accept paper currency. Large scale merchants, maybe. Everyone else, I don’t think so. I think the “Beckies” were a lot more successful than likely. Remember John Law. Remember the South Sea Bubble. In both cases a good idea was oversold, and the rich and powerful screwed everyone else.

    And by the way, canon is the correct term. Cannons are guns.

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      Don’t worry – our esteemed authors would handvawe it just like they handwave everything elese.

      Both in “1635: Eastern Front” and “1636: The Saxon Rebellion” Mike and his army was hanging around different parts of Bohemia. There was some off-hand comment about Wallenstein issuing his own new money, but not a word about any difficutlties or financial crisis. So we had to assume, that all this scheme – no matter how far fetched and unbeleivable – somehow worked!

      Oh, and I use “canon” in connections with books in the series like that… and pretty much all GGs.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Considering the writers? The population density that’s currently through the floor? Thanks to all the dead folks? That’s gonna be magically repaired without any help from the newly respected and liberated womenfolk. They pop out of the ground ya see! Heh. Logic in action. Bank run by women in 17th century? Suuure. Spontaneous reproduction and pregnancy free population recovery? Suuure! Not a problem! “Lemme get my keyboard! One delusional fantasy coming right up! Including one or two reactionary backwards groups of republic..ahem…witch hunte..ahem…wealthy noblemen, and the requisite majority supporting them until moment of enlightening…add complexity…aaand done! Ta da!” I would laugh if I wasn’t crying a little at how familiar that sounds. Woof.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        I really don’t know what are you talking about. And I can barely understand your response.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          And that, my dear, is how one can tell we two are very different people. I see you either never viewed my response to your reply in the other snippet; at least, that is what I attribute your acid tone and dismissive flippancy to, aside from the simple fact of our being different people. I will however, explain one point. Why is the population density (translation: the number of people per a certain area, say a square mile) low? Oh I don’t know…the massive attrition, disease, and general misery caused by the thirty years war? Among other things? Smallpox? As to my statement regarding the writers, I was simply waxing artlessly regarding my opinion of them, and their tendency to sacrifice the craft, and writing a decent story, for the purpose of making their sociopolitical point. Usually a resoundingly feminist one, that may or may not have anything to do with the story. Now, in anticipation of your statement that once again what I am saying may as well be ancient Greek to you, I’ll say this: very well, and feel free to keep it to yourself. I hope this reply reaches you well, and leaves you in good grace. Ciao.

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Apologies. Either never viewed, or viewed and rejected, was what I meant to say. It is rather late. Again, be well!

    • Robert Krawitz says:

      But remember that Judith’s husband is the hero who personally led the defense of Prague. She’s not just any Jewish woman, or even just any uptime Jewish woman.

      Also, people have seen a paper currency actually work.

  3. Randomiser says:

    ‘Crowns’ when they are trying to play down the connection with the king? Really?

  4. gahrie says:

    Dollars plays up the uptimer connections, and allows the new currency to coattail on the USE dollar.

  5. Lyttenstadt says:

    Even in recent 1636: Devils opera, besides mentionins dollars, ordinary downtimers use (as a currency) Groschen, one of which equals 100 dollars and 12 pfennigs. If Germany retained its historical currencies that are still of greater value that new-fangked dollars, why not to that in Bohemia?

    Because 1636:DO (which contains much more plausible information) was written not by Huff&Goodlett, that’s why!

  6. Vikingted says:

    Well I almost had the new Bohemian Fed chairman correct, it was to be a Roth, just not Morris. It does seem odd to me that an uptime woman would have been selected by the King to run the Fed. I would have thought that the only women that would be accepted in such an important position would have to have the business reputation of one of the de’ Medici clan.

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