6 posts tagged


What to read #7: Money

Money: An Unofficial Biography of Money by Felix Martin

Restored by restorephotos.io

When I was 15, I received a¬†gift from my best friend, Max‚ÄĒa¬†book that would shape my understanding of¬†money. From that day on, my friends knew that books were the¬†way to¬†my heart.

Yap Island’s Unique Currency: Giant Stones and a Trust-Based Economy

In the remote Yap Island, found a hundred years ago, an extraordinary monetary system thrived. The inhabitants used enormous coin-like stones with holes in the center, known as Rai stones, as a form of currency. These stones were immovable, some as large as cars, and were quarried from distant islands and transported with great effort.

What made this system work was an intricate web of trust and communal understanding. Ownership of the stones could change without them physically moving. If someone wished to buy something, like 10 kilograms of fish, they would simply declare the transfer of ownership to the fisherman. Everyone in the community would acknowledge the new ownership and the transaction was complete.

The stones didn’t even need to be seen to hold value. In one legendary tale, a Rai stone was lost at sea during transport, but the community continued to recognize its value, and it remained part of the island’s currency system.

This unique approach to money, rooted in social trust and shared belief, challenges conventional economic thinking and provides a fascinating glimpse into how value can be ascribed and exchanged in diverse cultures.

The Birth of Forwards and Futures: Lyon, 1535

In the bustling market town of Lyon, France, in 1535, an extraordinary transformation was taking place. Amidst the cacophony of sellers peddling meats, fruits, and tools, one man stood out. He had no physical products, just a fountain pen, paper, and an idea that would revolutionize trading.

This man began selling the future by signing contracts to buy wheat at predefined prices and reselling them at higher rates. This practice, known as Forwards or Futures, was a radical departure from traditional commerce. It attracted attention, skepticism, and eventually imitation. Other traders started following suit, and soon, Lyon’s market was flooded with these future contracts.

The city’s reputation grew, attracting merchants and financiers from far and wide. Banks and financial institutions took notice, and Lyon became a hub for innovation in finance. By the end of the century, it was not only France’s financial center but also the heart of Europe’s burgeoning capital market. The man with the fountain pen had set in motion a wave that would eventually shape modern stock markets.

Eric’s Adventure: Risk, Profit, and the Birth of Joint-Stock Companies

Across the sea, in the small but ambitious trading nation of the Netherlands, a Dutch trader named Eric had a vision. He dreamed of building ships to explore and trade with distant lands, but his ambition was larger than his credit. Banks and friends lent what they could, but it was never enough.

Undeterred, Eric took a novel approach. Instead of seeking credit, he asked investors to buy a share of his profits. This was a new concept, and it attracted adventurous and like-minded individuals who saw the potential in overseas trade.

Eric’s first voyage was a resounding success, bringing in profits that exceeded all expectations. Word spread quickly, and more people clamored to invest in Eric’s next expedition. His fleet grew, and so did his reputation.

However, managing the growing number of investors became a Herculean task. There were disputes over ownership, profits, and investment terms. The government, too, struggled to track who owned what and how much tax was due.

The¬†solution was as¬†innovative as¬†Eric‚Äôs trading model‚ÄĒa¬†centralized exchange where shares in¬†his ventures, and¬†those of¬†his competitors, could be bought and¬†sold. This was the¬†genesis of¬†the¬†joint-stock company and¬†the¬†stock market, concepts that would define global commerce for¬†centuries to¬†come.

With each new voyage, risks and rewards were shared among an ever-growing pool of investors. The idea spread across Europe, laying the groundwork for modern corporations and investment structures. Eric’s vision had not only opened new trade routes but also charted a course for the future of business and finance.

John Law: The Gambler Who Shaped France’s Monetary System

John Law, a charismatic Scotsman, was a gambler, banker, and economist whose ideas would leave an indelible mark on France’s monetary system. Sentenced to death in Britain for killing a man in a duel, Law escaped to Europe, where his financial acumen caught the attention of France’s regent.

France was in financial ruin after years of war, and Law proposed a radical solution: replace gold and silver with paper money backed by land. He believed this would stimulate the economy and reduce the national debt.

In 1716, Law founded the Banque Générale, issuing paper money that could be exchanged for coins. His ideas were initially successful, and Law’s influence grew. He took over the Mississippi Company, controlling French trade with the Americas, and his paper money fueled a speculative bubble.

However, Law’s success was short-lived. Doubts about the real value of the paper money led to a loss of confidence, and the bubble burst. Law was forced to flee France in disgrace, his innovations leading to financial chaos.

Yet, despite the catastrophic end, Law’s ideas were ahead of their time. He foresaw the potential of a centralized banking system, fiat currency, and the complex interplay of economics and psychology. His story is a cautionary tale about innovation, ambition, and the fragile nature of economic systems, but also a testament to the power of ideas to shape history.

These expanded sections provide a more comprehensive view of the unique currency system of Yap Island and the complex story of John Law. By delving into the details, the narrative paints a vivid picture of these historical phenomena, offering readers a deeper understanding of the diverse and often surprising world of money.

Beyond the Stories: A Rich Exploration of Money

‚ÄúMoney: An¬†Unofficial Biography of¬†Money‚ÄĚ by¬†Felix Martin goes beyond the¬†fascinating stories of¬†Yap Island, Lyon, Eric‚Äôs adventures, and¬†John Law. It dives into the¬†complexities of¬†debt, the¬†art of¬†printing money (seigniorage), the¬†ideologies of¬†capitalism and¬†communism, the¬†evolution from the¬†gold standard to¬†fiat currency, and¬†the¬†prominence of¬†the¬†U.S. dollar.

This article was edited by¬†ChatGPT, which assisted me in¬†crafting the¬†storytelling, paraphrasing sentences, and¬†verifying facts from both the¬†book ‚ÄúMoney: An¬†Unofficial Biography of¬†Money‚ÄĚ by¬†Felix Martin and¬†my own memory. The¬†collaboration has helped shape a¬†more engaging and¬†accurate representation of¬†the¬†book‚Äôs rich exploration of¬†money and¬†its multifaceted history.

2023   Books   Business and Economics   english

Books to read #7: Mind

These three books have had a profound impact on my life. I first read them when I was 15 and have re-read them every 2-3 years to remind myself of the valuable lessons they contain. While simply following the rules outlined in these books may not make you a millionaire, they will help you understand the true value of things, become a kinder person, and get more value out of your interactions with others.

Dale Canegie: ‚ÄúHow to¬†Win Friends and¬†Influence People‚ÄĚ

Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain: This creates animosity and puts people on the defensive.
Give honest and sincere appreciation: People are more likely to respond positively when they feel appreciated.
Arouse in the other person an eager want: Help others see the value in what you’re offering and how it can benefit them.
Be genuinely interested in other people: Show a genuine interest in others and their interests and experiences.
Smile: A smile can go a long way in creating a positive impression and building rapport with others.
Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language: Use someone’s name when speaking to them to create a connection and show that you value them.
Be a good listener: Show that you’re listening by giving your full attention and acknowledging what the other person is saying.

7 rules of highly effective people

Be proactive: Take responsibility for your actions and don’t just react to situations.
Begin with the end in mind: Set clear goals and work towards them.
Put first things first: Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones first.
Think win-win: Seek mutually beneficial solutions in your relationships and interactions.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Listen actively to others and try to understand their perspectives before trying to explain your own.
Synergize: Work effectively with others to achieve more than you could on your own.
Sharpen the saw: Take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being to maintain balance and effectiveness.

Robert Kiyosaki: ‚ÄúRich Dad Poor Dad‚ÄĚ

Mind your own business: Focus on building your own assets and wealth, rather than relying on a job or someone else’s assets.
Work to learn, not to earn: Seek out opportunities to learn new skills and acquire knowledge that will help you build wealth.
Don’t save money, invest it: Save money for emergencies, but invest it in assets that will generate income and grow in value.
Don’t worry about the price of an asset, consider the value: Look for assets that offer value, rather than just focusing on the price.
Don’t let your ego get in the way: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, and be willing to learn from others.
Don’t let fear hold you back: Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Financial education is important because it helps you build wealth.
Your mindset plays a crucial role in financial success. The book suggests adopting a wealth-building mindset and being proactive in your approach to money.
Building passive income streams is key to achieving financial independence. Passive income is income that is generated without requiring active effort.
Consumer debt, such as credit card debt, can be dangerous and should be avoided or paid off as quickly as possible.
Long-term thinking and planning for the future are important in building wealth.

2023   Books

What to read #5: Real estate investing

I usually publish lists of books about architecture that I recommend to read. All of them are important to understand the value of a house. This article suggest books, minimally required to understand value of a house.

A Pattern Lnaguage, Kristopher Alexander

read it before investing or buying a house. This book describes how the space affects our way of living: how each type of city should look like, how the houses in the neighborhood should be placed and how it affects the ways people behave with each other. Even how the shadows, floor level, density of people, age difference and green parking affects the living in a house and society.

I read the Russian translated version of the book made by ArtLebedev Studio with great illustrations. If you speak Russian, I insist reading this book. This is my favorite book that I recommend to everyone.

Real estate investing 101, Michele Cagan

A dictionary that explains most of the termins and concepts you should know to master in the real estate.

All other books will be added soon. To¬†learn more about the¬†architecture and¬†real estate, read my blog. Write a¬†keyword by¬†clicking on¬†a¬†search button and¬†find ‚Äúreal estate‚Äė, ‚Äėarchitecture‚Äė, investment‚Äė or¬†other tags that you are interested in.

Remember, I can‚Äôt explain in¬†a¬†blog the¬†same information that is written in¬†huge books¬†‚Äď the¬†books I share are written by¬†professionals and¬†scientists who spent years for¬†each book¬†‚Äď they provided as¬†much knowledge as¬†they could in¬†the¬†best way. I can only share their knowledge by¬†sharing the¬†book or¬†by¬†taking the¬†main ideas from it. Some books cost 100$, but¬†after reading such books you will learn everything you should know about this theme.

2022   Books   english   Investment

What to read #4: Politics

Empire USA, Illegale Kriege, Danielle Ganser

Danielle Ganser is a¬†swiss historian, who analysed NATO expansions and¬†crimes. He wrote 3 main books: ‚ÄúImperium USA: Die skrupellose Weltmacht‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúIllegale Kriege : Wie die NATO-LaŐąnder die UNO sabotieren. Eine Chronik von Kuba bis Syrien‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúNato-Geheimarmeen in¬†Europa : Inszenierter Terror und verdeckte KriegsfuŐąhrung‚ÄĚ.
The books are available in german and french for now, but they may be translated in the time you read it.

Other books are available in¬†English: ‚ÄúNATO‚Äôs Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and¬†terrorism in¬†Western Europe‚ÄĚ. Also read some scientific papers. The¬†last one is about Russia and¬†the¬†USA in¬†the¬†Ukrainian conflict

Listen to his lectures, for example, the illegal revolution in Ukraine 2014, or Turkey revolution 1980. They are available in German and Russian.

In these lectures, Danielle explained the NATO hierarchy and its expansion. NATO became the largest military alliance that does not care about any agreements between non-allies. For example, the agreement of non-expansion to the east, which was signed at the beginning of 1990-th, was broken.

NATO is the best alliance in world history. This is because of the hierarchy: The pentagon is the center of NATO. Danielle says that the ministry of defense in the USA is more like the ministry of offense. In each country of NATO American soldier is always the decision maker, only he decides what NATO does.

The USA, and therefore NATO, like to make 2 similar nations hate each other. They do it by showing the greatness, and dominance of one nation over another. America makes people think that people from another nation are no one, that they are not even the people so that they don’t have any rights and may be easily killed. It happened in Turkey vs Kurds, Christians vs Muslims, Albanians vs Serbians, North vs South Koreans, Russians vs Ukrainians, and even Republicans vs Democrats.

By doing so, America does not need to start a war themselves and make Americans dead. Instead, they supply one of the nations with weapons (Americans sell the weapons by giving credits, that some countries can’t pay out. Therefore, America dictates a country what to do in exchange for restructuring a credit. That is what will happen with Ukraine if Ukraine does not vanish from maps). In the end, one country loses by giving up territories and being dependent on the winner, and America gets control and loyalty over the winner. (the credit idea was made by me, Danielle was not talking about it).

Danielle said, that the UN cannot force any sanctions against 5 major countries: the USA, Russia, Great Britain, France, and China. These countries have Veto rights, the right to cancel any decisions. Therefore, such countries can do terrorism, and start wars with anyone and the UN can’t do anything against it.

Danielle also argues about the 9/11 event. The government prohibits discussions about the event. Some scientists and architects dispute the way, how the third building fell. this house fell straight down, that may only happen if all metallic walls are blown. The way, that the government does not want to analyze this case and share the data makes people create conspiracy theories.

Moreover, after 9/11, all Muslims seem to Americans as terrorists and Americans demand revenge. It seems like a reason to start a war with Muslim countries. I want to remind, you that Islam is a more peaceful religion than Christianity, but at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the perception of Muslims changed.

The prisoners of geography, Tim Marshall

The natural landscapes: rivers, mountains, hills, floods, and even waterfalls affect the civilisation. The location decides whether rhe countries have a war with each other of make a trade.

We will analyze 10 regions: Russia, China, the USA, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Korea and Japan, Latin America and Arctic.

The book explains with examples how geography affects the relationships between nations. It also tells about the dilemma between Ukraine and Russia even though that the book was written in 2017.

Why are we polarized, Ezra Klein

The book tells about American society. The split between Republicans and democrats grows bigger. Before the internet time, people chose the side based on the leader of a party and based on the changes, that each party does. The democrat could choose a Republican president.

Today people are polarized. They are so polarized, that republicans hate democrats and otherwise. People are sure about their point of view and don’t want to discuss or take into account the other point of view. People decided, that there is one truth. Because people talk more with people with their point of view, they make the bias, that only their point of view is logical and right. It goes so far, that one family with different points of view on government can just split.

Ezra Klein explains how that happen, that people became polarized.

2022   Books   english   Politics

Ornament and crime, Adolf Loos, 1908

The main thoughts:

Make the walls around the living space, not otherwise. The planning of a house must start with understanding what people will do inside, how they will use each place. Some architects first do the house planning, and only then do they decide how people will live inside the house. After panning the outer walls, they decide where and how the bedroom, bath, living room, and kitchen will be located. An example is when a person wants to have three floors, or 600 square meter area, and he thinks afterward how to fill the place.

For me, that was a crucial thought. Did you think an architect should plan walls, windows, stairs only after planning the people’s behavior inside the house? I guess it is tough to imagine. Most of us buy or rent an apartment, and we initially have the plan of an apartment, and based on this plan, we make the walls between rooms and place the tables, sofas, beds, and other furniture. But when you build your own house, you must think conversely! Remember!

Vienna is a Potemkin village. Potemkin village is the name of fake houses, where only a façade is made. Potemkin villages were built in Russian Empire when the emperor traveled around different regions. Mayor Potemkin did not want the emperor to see poor villages, and he decided to build fake houses on the main streets so that the emperor would see the flourishing city. The homes had only one wall and were constructed out of wood, were colored, and had ornaments made of gypsum.

Vienna has a similar thing. Houses in Vienna look gorgeous; however, most of the façade is just a cheap decoration made of gypsum instead of stone, which doesn’t have any functions.

Without the Façade, the house of the 15th and 17th centuries will look the same as that of the 19th century. For a long time, the only difference in homes was the Façade style: baroque, classicism, modern, neo-gothic, etc.

You can’t fake one material for a more expensive one. The fake will always be seen. In Vienna, architects usually make hardwood out of a soft one or paint the normal wood to the red transparent color to look like the teak wood (red hardwood, very expensive).

There were no prohibitions of fake architecture because no one was faking before. If there are no robbers, you don’t need any punishment for robbery. Nobody was faking the architecture styles before. Only when the new cheap luxury-imitating materials became popular, the process of faking start to flourish.

Ornament is terrible, and once we will eliminate it. The Ornament is just the time spent for nothing. People of baroque times (when people discovered purple color, just a fact) spent money on needless luxury things, and people became poorer. Still, people in the new era are conscious about our needs, and we understand that some wills are stupid. That is why we became richer.

Let’s take two persons having the same income and living simultaneously. One is a baroque person, and one is a modern person. The baroque person will eat the peacocks, pheasant, lobsters with silver spoons on a table made of teak wood with the picturesque ornaments. He will probably wear clothes made of silk, covered with gold, purple color. He will have diamond rings and other stuff. The modern person (of the 20th century) will not have any ornament in his house, neither on the clothes, boots, or furniture. He will wear a black suit to not stand out from the crowd. His power is in his mind. Without spending money on luxury and Ornament, the modern person will save money and grow his capital not need to work in the future.

The modern person will work less. Workers of the previous era spent most of the time on decorations so that they had to work 20 hours per day to have the same production as a person of the modern age (20th century). Now people in America work 8 hours per day, and soon people will work 4 hours a day if they forget about all unnecessary details.

Some architects kill harmony with nature. A¬†peasant in¬†a¬†small village will build a¬†house without an¬†architect. If there is clay nearby, he will buy bricks; if not¬†‚Äď he will use wood and¬†stones from the¬†lake nearby. The¬†Peasant will ask the¬†carpenter (woodworker) to¬†make a¬†roof, and¬†he does not¬†know if the¬†roof will be beautiful or¬†ugly until it is built. Will the¬†house be beautiful? The¬†house will be as¬†beautiful as¬†a¬†lake, a¬†tree, or¬†a¬†horse. It will be a¬†part of¬†nature.

photos are taken from google and added to have a feeling of harmony with nature.

Architects can come to a place and draw the house as he or the customer imagines. He may use materials or technologies that are not usual for these places. The house may be great but may also kill nature. The house will take all the attention to itself. A peasant (subconsciously) understands that the house is a part of nature, and he will try to live in harmony as his ancestors lived.

Сity dwellers (urban citizens) don’t have a history. They have no sense of beauty and are not attached to one style. They live in a mix of everything.

The good architecture does not look nice in pictures. The architecture is not 2-dimensional, and a house is not built by pen. The architecture of Adolf Loos looks too simple on paper and photos but is great in real life. And you know why it is better? Look at other buildings built that time, look at the cafes of modern style with ornaments, that, of course, look great on paper, and where are they? Most of them are closed or have a new design because such architecture becomes not pretty even for the creator. In 3 years, the architect starts to hate his Ornament.

Someone may say that regular change of style, furniture, etc., is suitable for an economy because factories will produce more and more people will have jobs. Such logic exists. When the house is on fire, people are happy because a new, better building will be constructed in that place. But it is not ok, because it is just a capital loss for nothing.

Architecture is not art, except for monuments and gravestones. Everyone should like a House. But art is how an artist sees the world; you may like it or not. Art does not have a function (except for evoking emotions). However, the house satisfies the specific need. The picture should lead out of the usual comfort. The house should serve this comfort. The art is revolutionary; the house is conservative. Art opens new ways and thinks about the future. The house thinks about presents. A person likes everything that serves comfort and hates everything that leads out of it. So, he likes a house and hates art. And yes, architecture is not art. Unfortunately, today (20th century), most houses are liked by two people: the architect and a developer (a private home customer).

Adolf Loos is Austria‚Äôs most known architect of¬†the¬†early 20th century. His two masterpieces are the¬†Loos Haus and¬†Caf√© ‚ÄúMuseum.‚ÄĚ

Loos Haus, now here is the Raiffeisenbank.
Café Museum (I took photos from google)

Adolf Loos has written two best-seller books: ‚ÄúOrnament and¬†crime‚ÄĚ and¬†‚ÄúWhy A¬†Man Should Be Well-dressed.‚ÄĚ

In this article, I summarized the thoughts of Adolf loos and the thoughts that I experienced reading this book. If you liked this format, I would continue writing such articles. I have great books in my home library that I will be happy to talk about, and I also know tens of great books about architecture and urban planning. Just write a comment or write a private message. I will be very grateful.

2022   Architecture   Austria   Books

I wish I had it im my childhood: contemporary children books.

I lived my childhood in¬†Russia. And¬†in¬†Russia people, especially children, read a¬†lot. We had to¬†read 15-20 books (stories) each year. But¬†the¬†books had problems¬†‚Äď they were old. We read the¬†folk literature, or¬†the¬†books of¬†a¬†Soviet √©poque, or¬†the¬†Russian Golden Age¬†‚Äď the¬†19th century.

You may guess that such books were not¬†entirely relevant for¬†us¬†‚Äď we live in¬†the¬†21st century and¬†want to¬†know more about actual things and¬†read contemporary masterpieces. Unfortunately, most people and¬†I don‚Äôt understand that someone doesn‚Äôt understand the¬†need for¬†contemporary reading in¬†childhood, even in¬†adult age.

I am a¬†person who likes to¬†read¬†‚Äď I read 40-80 books per¬†year, mostly about architecture, design, business, and¬†non-fiction. Sometimes I read something new¬†‚Äď I guess that it is always great to¬†know more about different topics because mostly all the¬†things in¬†our world are connected. You may implement ideas from other spheres to¬†create something innovative.

I wondered about an¬†art bookstore in¬†Museums Quartier located in¬†Vienna, and¬†I was looking for¬†good books. I found four good books that I recommend reading: ‚ÄúSoft City,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúNew Move, ‚ÄėMichael Schumacher, ‚ÄėThe¬†Fastest Guide To¬†Architectural Form‚Äô, ‚ÄėArchitects‚Äô Houses. ‚Äô

When I chose the¬†books, I started looking around the¬†store. There were hundreds of¬†themes like music, art, sculpture, sustainability. Suddenly my eyes came across stunning covers¬†‚Äď covers of¬†biography of¬†famous and¬†influential people. I usually don‚Äôt read such literature, but¬†they were written: ‚Äėfor¬†children. ‚Äô

I took a book about Greta Thunberg, and what you have not thought about her, the book has told her story so simply and interestingly, that I started reading another about Michelle Obama.

That is an¬†exciting thing¬†‚Äď usually, the¬†children‚Äôs books are written so simply, without complex constructions and¬†terms, but¬†with excellent illustrations, so that I understand the¬†idea that the¬†author wanted to¬†say perfectly.

Interesting, but¬†many professors or¬†‚Äėeducated ‚Äėpeople think that the¬†children‚Äôs book format is for¬†children only, but¬†that is not¬†true. People want to¬†seem cleverer, so that they invent new words and¬†overcomplicate theorems, that the¬†regular students or¬†people can‚Äôt understand what they were asked to¬†understand. This way maybe be more accurate in¬†science, but¬†it doesn‚Äôt give the¬†main feature: Be on¬†the¬†same wave with the¬†author.

Let’s come back to our theme. There were hundreds of new storybooks. All of them were a real masterpiece, and my mind and eyes got so much fun. Let’s look at this picture: this is a patterned book so that there is a hole in a book, which makes the story so interesting. It seems like you go forward every time, and some action happens. I wish I could share the pictures with you, but the author’s rights prohibit it.

Or let’s look at the story of a Black Lives Matter. This is an important event in our society, and it is so important to tell children in the right and neutral way about this problem. This book has solved this problem. The book reveals that we all appeared in Africa and all people have been living there for 2 million years, and only in the recent 200000 years have they started to relocate to the new territories. Later, they tell the story of Africans in America, starting with the Columbus ship and ending with 2020.

I guess such books could bring me a better understanding of today and tomorrow than the patriotic books of our ancestors.

(This article is still in editing, but I will be happy to hear your thoughts in comments)

2021   Books   english