Nomination of Lagarde as President of the ECB – A Testimonium Paupertatis

Open letter to the European Council

Dear leaders of Europe and fellow Europeans,

as a longtime proponent of Europe, European integration and the institutions of the European Community, I write this open letter to convey my thoughts on the nomination of Christine Lagarde as next President of the European Central Bank (ECB) by the European Council, and to voice my discontent with this nomination. In short I cannot help but think: what a political testimonium paupertatis.

Please allow me to explain for there are good reasons in support of this qualification. Regardless of our opinions in this matter, I am sure we can all agree Europe simply is too important. Committed to a shared European spirit, I write this open letter.

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Dr. Zijlstra’s Legacy and the 21st Century Renaissance of Gold

If you read the series of analyses by Dr. Jelle Zijlstra, one of the world’s most informed central bankers of his era (1967-1981), you have read a little over half a “modern book” on the historical backgrounds of the international monetary framework and the reasons for the Bretton Woods framework to collapse. My selection of translations portrays a great similarity to the extent that the essential point is repeated again and again and which is most eloquently described in Zijlstra’s autobiography of 1992: “Gold as the monetary cosmos’ sun”.

Here are my thoughts on why his analysis is highly relevant to today’s financial crisis.

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Analyse: de gouden standaard, de goudwisselstandaard en de euro

De aanleiding voor een uitgebreide analyse over de gouden standaard, de goudwisselstandaard en de euro is gevonden met een onjuiste veronderstelling van professor Bas Jacobs van de Erasmus Universiteit. Hij verwijt Europese politici te snel te willen bezuinigen. Zijn kritiek is echter onterecht. Aan de hand van de uitleg van de Franse econoom Jacques Rueff gaat deze analyse in op de verschillen tussen de gouden standaard en de goudwisselstandaard. Rueff, zo zal blijken, wijst op de cruciale rol die de Amerikaanse dollar speelde bij de totstandkoming van de Grote Depressie.

Professor Bas Jacobs uitte onlangs kritiek op de euro: “De euro lijkt te veel op de gouden standaard”. Jacobs gebruikt echter een argument tegen de gouden standaard die betrekking heeft op de goudwisselstandaard. De auteur op basis van wie Jacobs zijn conclusie trekt, en ik zal eerlijk bekennen dat ik dit werk van de auteur niet ken, is Peter Temin. Hij schreef het boek “Lessons from the Great Depression” en zou dus één en ander moeten weten over de oorzaken van de Grote Depressie.

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Dr. Zijlstra’s Final Settlement: Gold as the Monetary Cosmos’ Sun

Originally posted on April 29, 2012.

Whenever I am in Amsterdam, I go to a bookstore and browse the second-hand shelves in the economics section. Recently I found two books by Dr. Jelle Zijlstra: “Dr. Jelle Zijlstra, Conversations and Writings” (1979, second edition) and “Per Slot Van Rekening” (1992, fifth edition). The latter title is a Dutch figure of speech that may be translated as “The Final Settlement.”

Jelle Zijlstra was a renowned Dutch economist and one of Holland’s finer statesmen. Early in his career in 1948, shortly after World War II, he became a professor, specializing in the velocity of money. By 1952 he was appointed minister of economic affairs, then Dutch treasurer from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1966 to 1967. During his last term as treasurer he led the Dutch Cabinet as prime minister as well until 1967, after which he became president of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). While president of the Dutch central bank he was appointed as the president of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) as well, positions he held until his resignation in 1981.

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