Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Ferengi still use gold-pressed Latinum…

To the RSA yesterday, in John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6EZ. Between meetings in London we managed to fit in a visit to the lecture by Professor Kenneth Rogoff, deliberating about the existence of cash, illustrated by examples from his new book – The Curse of Cash.

Rogoff: curse of cash cover image
Review or purchase this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

Despite misconceptions in the popular press, Professor Rogoff, he is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, argues for the deletion of high value notes from a national currency, not, as is often quoted, the dramatic end of cash all together.

Drawing on his international experiences, Rogoff served as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, he argued for the removal of high value notes from circulation as a methodology to reduce criminality and tax evasion.

Rogoff recognised, in passing, the recent currency changes in India, remarking that his advice to Prime Minister Modi would have been to move at a much slower pace, although India’s fiscal motives are not totally clear at present. Cessation of high value notes is now, he argued, a recognisably legitimate lever in the economic tool box, although ideally pursued over a period of perhaps two years, with currency withdrawn in batches of maximum value over that time.

Using the U.S. as an example, evidence was offered regarding the size of bank note holdings in a population – nearly always much, much higher than any official Treasury forecast, he argued.

In theory, in the U.S., every person should be holding about $4,200 dollars in $100 bills for example. However, we were told, current research indicated that only 5% of U.S. citizens ever saw bills of this denomination, and only once a year at that.

A simple show of hands in The Great Room at John Adam Street, saw only four members of the audience having used a £50 note in the last month. This exposition led on to an assessment of the underground economy in Europe. Undeclared transactions making up 16% of the German economy annually, with up to 25% in Italy and Greece. In the U.S., we were informed, this currently runs at about 8%. But in all cases these hidden  economic transactions represent vast sums in the tax ‘neutral’ take of businesses, whatever their ethical make-up.

Cash and culture:

Rogoff referenced the U.S. economist, Neil Wallace, whom he argued failed to see the rise of electronic currency during his seminal economic work in the 1970’s. Now, Rogoff argued, there has been a step change, in young people particularly, for whom electronic banking and cash movements may have become the norm.

This could have resonating consequences for world economies. Governments make large cash transfers and could, he argued use free, subsidised debit cards for members of society  and deliver benefits, refunds and payments to individuals without the repetitious ‘cost of cash’.

In his lecture Professor Rogoff appeared to be a strong proponent of the use of negative interest rates, to stimulate cash investment in business infrastructure, citing Sweden as an example where this policy had energised the real economy.

In rounding off his talk Professor Rogoff, cited the work of U.S. economist Robert Eisner, arguing that Central Banks could also have a role to play in the ‘new attitude’ to cash. The use of technical devices, such as deploying currency held in banking systems using a distinct and different exchange rate.

This was a quietly and elegantly delivered short lecture, drawn from a very telling book, The Curse of Cash, which provoked and underscored an interesting number of new ways of thinking about cash, banking and the cultural and fiscal exchanges between us all.

We recommend it.

The final exortation, light heartedly, was for us to remember that the Rogoff thesis is not about the abandonment of cash, rather its perpetuation in ‘smaller ‘ form.

The Ferengi, we were told, had after all never lost their interest, as free traders of integalactic renown, in gold-pressed Latinum.


You can hire the resources and spaces of 8, John Adam Street for both corporate and social events. A stunning venue in the heart of London, just off The Strand.

Explore the facilities available here

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British Art at Yale – a discovery…

Following on from our recent article on book binding in Barcelona, we seem unable to escape our thematic journey on-line towards the bound artefact.

As booksellers and literacy project specialists we are especially interested in the concept of the book as a seasonal highlight, as to be expected at this time of year. The conversationsEast team were very pleased to see book-binding as part of the programme of the recent Chelmsford Ideas Festival for instance.

This month we were pleased to discover the web pages of the refreshed and rebuilt Yale Center for British Art. Remarkable in that such a concentration of artefacts, academic depth and insight into our native art history should exist in Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut.

The opening lecture for the Centre, post-renovation, was Artistic Bookbinding in the Twenty-First Century, delivered by the American book historian and conservator James Reid-Cunningham. See more below…

The lecture, The Poet of Them All, concentrates on a remarkable collection of Shakespeare editions in miniature from the holdings of the Yale Centre and in concert with collectors Neale and Margaret Albert.

The richness, skill and indeed, even fun, of such collections is beautifully captured in the Reid-Cunningham lecture. The expressive art and craft skill of the binder in the twenty first century is also visually well expressed in the discourse. In an age of electronics it is sometimes easy to forget the power, even magic, generated by the carefully crafted, masterfully bound book. Whatever its size.

There is much to enjoy across the whole of the Yale Center for British Art. Research at the Yale Center benefits from concurrent funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, encouraging a wide programme of lectures, study and talks to disseminate the findings of the Center. As you would expect from such a world centre of excellence.

We particularly liked the Center’s new education programme Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of the Arts in Education. Using the great visual resources the Center holds to create interest in and higher utility in reading. Art becomes the book, becomes the writer!

See the trailer for the work below…

Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of Arts in Education from cyra levenson on Vimeo.

Giving  books is a great idea over the festive holidays, getting the family into an art gallery or museum is even better. We visited Seven Stories in Newcastle earlier in 2016, so we know you can achieve the same ‘Yale’ effect without a visit to Connecticut.

Unless you travel on-line that is? Happy Christmas to our readers.

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Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica – a reissue

isaacnewtonportrait
A portait of Isaac Newton by Godfrey Kneller (1689)

Article update: 12.11.2016

1,076 backers pledged 56,504 euros to help bring this project to life, exceeding the original campaign target  of 35,000 euros. Brilliant.


This must be the Enlightenment project of the year.

On the eve of 2017, the 330th anniversary of the publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia (Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica), a small publishing house in Barcelona, Kronecker Wallis, are dedicated to issuing a new version of this master work.

Design and detail are the watch words of this small creative team, who are recruiting backers for the project on the pages of Kickstarter.

With only nine days to go of the campaign, as of the publication of this short article, why not take an intellectual punt and pledge a very modest amount to receive a copy of this great piece of literature, science and the art of book binding?

If completed this is the Christmas present to die for for those interested in the aesthetics of the book, the history of science and a love of independent, small studio making.

Discover the Principia and Kronecker Wallis on Kickstarter here.

About the book?

The book will be set in Lucas de Groot‘s font The Serif, created in 1994. To get the finest reproduction the publishers have chosen Munken Polar paper, giving a high quality white tonality to the page and a natural feel. Paper weights of 100 grams for the inner pages and covers produced in 260 grams.

the serif font example image
Buy The Serif office fonts here…

 

The binding is what really sets this book apart. We wanted its “wrapping” to be visually appealing and different. Therefore, we have opted for visible binding that leaves the spine bare, displaying a part of the books that usually remains hidden. This type of binding also helps us when reading the book, as it allows us to open it wider‘.

Source: Kronecker Wallis Kickstarter page

The text is set from the 1846 first American edition, edited by N.W. Chittenden. You can see this text here.

principia page layout image
Page layout image from Kronecker Wallis…

You can make a Kickstarter pledge from as little as 5 Euro’s, a tiny investment in a project of such aesthetic magnitude.

If you do and the bindngs are completed, have a great Christmas festive holiday when your package arrives.

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