Archive for November 14th, 2017

‘Portuguese architecture’ in Goa has little to do with the Portuguese and everything to do with Goans..

November 14, 2017

Vivek Menezes who earlier had written a piece on Goa cuisine, now has another one on  Goan architecture.

He says that these days brokers are selling some houses as “Portuguese houses” is wrong. These houses are basically Goan:

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How the Orient Express became the world’s most glamorous train

November 14, 2017

Nice story by Erin Blakermore on how the idea of Orient Express took shape. History of trains and technology around it remains as fascinating as ever:

As rail travel expanded, luxury hotels began to pop up to cater to travelers’ needs. But it took an entrepreneur named Georges Nagelmackers to combine trains and hotels in Europe. Nagelmackers was a member of a prominent Belgian banking family and had investments in European railroads. After the Civil War, his family sent him to the United States in an effort to help him get over a failed romance with his cousin—and while on an extended vacation, he fell in love.

The object of his affections wasn’t a woman; it was a train. While European travelers chugged along in sooty, jostling trains, Americans were beginning to travel in Pullman cars. These train cars, invented by George Pullman, were specially designed for long-distance travel. The hotel-like cars were clean and staffed by friendly workers who catered to passengers’ comfort. And they contained something European trains did not: beds.

Nagelmackers became fascinated by this comfortable mode of travel and even approached Pullman with a proposal to become his partner and spread his cars through Europe. When Pullman rejected him, Nagelmackers returned to Europe with a plan: copy Pullman and make his own, even more luxurious, train.

He was briefly thwarted by the Franco-Prussian War, but by 1873 he had formed his own company, the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Nagelmackers wasn’t content with the idea of mere sleeper cars. He wanted to create something entirely new: a luxury travel experience that swept passengers from Paris to Istanbul (then Constantinople)  without stopping at borders. To do so, he recruited a powerful ally: King Leopold II of Belgium. The king was a notorious railroad enthusiast with family ties to some of Europe’s most powerful monarchs, and he helped Nagelmackers get permission to run his trains across international borders without interference.

In 1883, the opulent train the press dubbed the “Orient Express” made its maiden voyage. (It only went part of the eventual route due to infrastructure challenges.) It was unlike any other train Europe had ever seen. Instead of soot and bad service, it had gleaming wood surfaces, plush seats, and beds with silk sheets that rivaled those found in hotels. Inside was a restaurant that served fancy dishes like oysters and caviar, and musicians serenaded the passengers as they sped over borders.

Interesting how politics and business have always mixed at the top level.

There is more in the story…

Why study and research numismatics?

November 14, 2017

Nice post by Hillery York, Jennifer Gloede, and Emily Pearce Seigerman:

Whenever we tell friends and family where we work, their first response is typically, “What is Numismatics?” Of course, they pronounce it anywhere from “numismatic” to “gnomimatic!” The National Numismatic Collection (NNC) is the Smithsonian’s collection of monetary and transactional objects. It houses approximately 1.6 million objects spanning thousands of years and a great variety of materials. One of the best parts of our jobs is getting to share the collection with the world! Numismatics is a far-reaching field, and we’ve found connections to military history, facial hair, woman suffrage, and even Game of Thrones! We often share things about our favorite objects, but here are a few large, notable collections that you may not know are housed within the NNC. We’re making these available online, and researchers are welcome to contact us regarding their research in these areas.

Greco-Roman Collection

Ancient coins have long been collected because of their beauty, age, history, and sometimes rarity. Even dating back to the Renaissance, aristocrats and royals sought to add ancient coins to their collections. It makes sense then that the NNC would also have an extensive collection of these fascinating coins donated by various collectors over the years. Scholars recently dove into the collection to assess its strengths as compared to other notable museum collections. In doing so, they created a detailed listingof the holdings and discovered the collection contains approximately 26,900 Greek and Roman coins! These coins offer a great opportunity to study economics, art history, ancient coin production, classics, and more.

Numismatics is simply fascinating . It should be part of teaching monetary economics as it tells you so much about the monetary history and even politics around it…

We should move beyond just assembling these coins and put them in a museum. The idea should be to research and figure why certain coins were changed/modified, introduction of new coins and so on. Central banks should sponsor research on numismatics as there is much more to research than the usual “download data and run models”…

New Zealand should try build a central bank which has an open culture (applies to other central banks too..)

November 14, 2017

The earlier speculation of including employment in RBNZ’s inflation targeting mandate has gained steam as the new government has come to power.

Michael Reddell who has been educating us about NZ economy via his super blog says best way is to build a central bank which focuses on building an open culture environment. It is really nice when we hear things like culture etc in central banking and banking contexts where until not very long ago only models mattered. NY Fed has also been talking a lot about culture these days.

Reddell points how each central bank has a different culture:

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