Czas mi dokończyć opowieść o początkach Bank of England. Zanim to zrobię, tytułem wstępu, jedna uwaga – punkt odniesienia – oto w 1685 Ludwik XIV wypędził z Francji hugenotów, czyli wyznawców „religii bankierskiej”.
A zacząć mi trzeba od września 1688, kiedy to Król Słońce ruszył na Cesarstwo. Korzystając z okazji, w listopadzie owego roku pomarańczowy Wilhelm III dokonał słynnej inwazji na Anglię. Francja początkowo to ignorowała, licząc że jakobici sami sobie z tym poradzą, ale w końcu musiała zareagować – w 1689 rewolucyjna Anglia wypowiedziała jej wojnę… W lipcu 1690 flota francuska odniosła miażdżące zwycięstwo nad połączonymi flotami Anglii i Holandii. Pomimo, że Francja nie poszła za ciosem i nie dobiła Wyspiarzy**, to rewolucyjny Londyn wpadł w wielką panikę obawiając się skutecznej inwazji: „England’s crushing defeat by France, the dominant naval power, in naval engagements culminating in the 1690 Battle of Beachy Head, became the catalyst for England’s rebuilding itself as a global power. England had no choice but to build a powerful navy.”
Pewien Szkot, czyli inaczej wyspiarski hugenot, niejaki William Paterson już w 1691 zaproponował nowatorską instytucję „wojennego finansowania”, która miała stać się owym Bank of England [„The creation of the first central bank in England—an institution designed to lend to the government—was initially an expedient by William III of England for the financing of his war against France. He engaged a syndicate of city traders and merchants to offer for sale an issue of government debt. This syndicate soon evolved into the Bank of England, eventually financing the wars of the Duke of Marlborough and later Imperial conquests.”], ale wtedy polityczne okoliczności temu jeszcze nie sprzyjały, a poza tym transfer know-how z Amsterdamu był nadal w biegu. Warto tu przypomnieć pierwszy bank centralny w historii, przesławny Amsterdamsche Wisselbank. To tam właśnie wprowadzono wiele narzędzi nowoczesnej banksterki, ale i tak na końcu była piramida finansowa***:
„It initially operated on a deposit-only basis, but by 1657 it was allowing depositors to overdraw their accounts, and lending large sums to the Municipality of Amsterdam and the United East Indies Company (Dutch East India Company). Initially this was kept confidential, but it had become public knowledge by 1790. The agio on the bank money dropped from a premium at peak of around 6.25% to a discount of 2%, and by the end of the year the bank had to declare itself insolvent, offering to sell silver at a 10% discount to depositors. The City of Amsterdam took over direct control in 1791, before finally closing it in 1819.”
Okoliczności polityczne dojrzały w 1694, kiedy wigowska junta („The Whig Junto proper consisted of John Somers, later Baron Somers; Charles Montagu, later Earl of Halifax; Thomas Wharton, later Marquess of Wharton, and Edward Russell, later Earl of Orford”), zwana też pięcioma lordami-tyranami, przejęła władzę. Nowy Kanclerz Skarbu (od maja) natychmiast zarządził utworzenie Bank of England:
„The establishment of the bank was devised by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, in 1694. …He proposed a loan of £1.2m to the government; in return the subscribers would be incorporated as The Governor and Company of the Bank of England with long-term banking privileges including the issue of notes. The Royal Charter was granted on 27 July through the passage of the Tonnage Act 1694****. Public finances were in such dire condition at the time that the terms of the loan were that it was to be serviced at a rate of 8% per annum, and there was also a service charge of £4,000 per annum for the management of the loan.”
Wreszcie w 1696, po kilku latach starań, kiedy to nieufny Newton zaczął już podejrzewać zdradę, Karol Montagu (przy pomocy Johna Locke…) osadził sir Isaaca na czele królewskiej mennicy. Ciekawe, iż w obliczu potężnego deficytu budżetowego [1689-97 Nine Years War, Average annual expenditure: £5,456,555, Average annual tax revenue: £3,640,000, Final debt: £16,700,000], Newton tak jak wielu przed nim popierał psucie monety (=debasement), tj. po prostu zmniejszenie ilości srebra w funcie sterlingu. Tak się jednak nie stało – na skutek zdecydowanego stanowiska Locke i Montagu, wartość funta została utrzymana:
„Sterling was regularly used in London and Amsterdam alike and became, after the Dutch currency, Europe’s most important means of foreign exchange. These are the two elements that are crucial to the process that we usually call a ‘Financial Revolution’ that characterised England’s commerce and trade since the later seventeenth century*****:
1. a stable currency (Sterling) that was now increasingly backed by gold;
2. the Bank of England—a private venture with royal monopoly and the permission to issue notes in lieu of cash.
Two further aspects must be mentioned here, as they are important elements of the Financial Revolution, as well:
3. the development of government bonds that were traded on the stock exchange;
4. several means of risk minimization by means of marine insurance.
In combination, these innovations greatly facilitated the expansion of Britain’s intercontinental trades. Britain was Europe’s only commercial economy that was heavily involved in both the American and Indian trades. During the eighteenth century British traders combined these two branches to a coherent ‘system’ of world trade in the very sense of the word—and it was only in Britain that such a process could possibly take place. This process was mirrored by London’s rise to global dominance as a financial centre and focus of the global commodity trades replacing Amsterdam.”
[Peter Bernholz and Roland Vaubel. « Explaining Monetary and Financial Innovation. »]
Trzeba tu pamiętać, że tzw. płynność finansową zapewniali wtedy Londynowi nie tylko „holenderscy” bankierzy, ale i ci portugalscy. No, i pilnowali tzw. bulionu, czyli kruszców: „The company dates to Moses Mocatta’s founding of a London bullion bank in 1671. Mocatta first sent silver to India in 1676, and the firm served as a broker to the Bank of England and the East India Company in the 18th and 19th centuries. The firm was renamed Mocatta & Goldsmid with the addition of Asher Goldsmid in 1783.”
Jeśli zaś chodzi o Katarzynę Barton, córkę przyrodniej siostry Newtona, to zamieszkała z nim w Londynie po 1696, aby pomóc mu w gospodarstwie domowym. Zaraz potem została metresą sir Charlesa, który w testamencie zapisał jej prawie cały swój majątek: „as a token of the sincere love, affection and esteem, I have long had for her person, and as a small recompense for the pleasure and happiness I have had in her conversation”… i tak to się plecie.
**) „The battle was the greatest French tactical naval victory over their English and Dutch opponents during the war. …Control of the English Channel temporarily fell into French hands but Vice-Admiral Tourville failed to pursue the Allied fleet with sufficient vigour, allowing it to escape to the River Thames. Tourville was criticised for not following up his victory and was relieved of his command. English Admiral Torrington – who had advised against engaging the superior French fleet but had been overruled by Queen Mary and her ministers – was court-martialled for his performance during the battle. Although he was acquitted, King William dismissed him from the service.”
„Over half of the convoy was saved. Some 90 ships were lost, the majority were Dutch and 40 were captured by the French. The two main goals of the convoy: first, to deliver the traders to their destinations in the Mediterranean and second, to establish a naval presence there, were defeated. For the French there was a huge gain, with prizes valued at 30 million livres. The City of London judged it the worst financial disaster since the Great Fire, 27 years previously. For Tourville it was worthy revenge for his defeat in the Battle of La Hogue one year earlier.”
***) „At the time of its inception, the Wisselbank was a 100 percent reserve bank, but at some point, probably as early as 1656, it violated that principle and began lending out deposits, in effect using the same money twice, and as a result, “slipping secretly into the practice of monetary issue.” In doing this, the Wisselbank created the first significant innovation in the history of money since Gyges invented the coin in Lydia in the 8th century B.C. Watching their hated commercial rival Holland morph into a world commercial power inspired the English to implement the same system, albeit almost a century later. …
Just as momentous as the ability to create money was the fact that the creation of the Bank of England “constituted the first complete official approval of money issue by private interests. In other words, private money issue became a socially and legally sanctioned institution during the 17th century.” At the founding of the Bank of England, two things happened simultaneously: Bank money came into being in a significant way at the financial heart of the world’s greatest sea power, creating the first alternative to metal specie in 2,500 years, and the power to create money slipped from the hands of the sovereign into private hands. The combined effect of these two events would have a momentous effect on the development of capitalism. The founding of the Bank of England under supervision of the Whig oligarchs was a privatization of a sovereign right similar in magnitude to the looting of Church property 150 years before with consequences that were just as far-reaching.” – E. Michael Jones
****) An Act for granting to their Majesties several rates and duties upon tunnage of ships and vessels and upon Beer, Ale, and other liquors: for Securing certain recompenses and advantages in the said Act mentioned, to such persons as shall voluntarily advance the sum of 1.5 million pounds towards carrying on the War against France.
*****) „Economically, the Bank, founded as a private corporation in 1694, was the premier institution of Britain’s 18th century financial revolution and helped stimulate the nation’s industrial development. Politically, the Bank underpinned Britain’s national ascendancy over France by managing the country’s public debt and helping to finance historic military victories from Blenheim (1704) to Waterloo (1815). Socially, the Bank of England represented the interests of a City of London mercantile elite and helped integrate men and women of all ranks into the culture of modern capitalism through the Bank’s expanding stock market and paper currency. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bank of England became in myth and then in fact Britain’s national bank: symbol of empire, guarantor of financial stability.”