The Living Force
On the theme of historical accuracy, I was just listening to the Corbett Report video The Markets are Rigged. Apparently Nathan Rothschild managed to get early news of Wellington's victory at Waterloo, and made bank on it. It struck me that there was a living, breathing Rothschild prowling around London in the same time period of many of these novels. Sure will be something to see his forebears challenged to a duel by some honourable interplanetary bodies.
This modern era of central bank-dominated markets, however, is only the latest version of a game that is as old as the markets themselves. At base it’s a con game where the rich and powerful employ a raft of confidence men to lure suckers into the latest market mania. In this game, the “suckers” are the general public who are left holding the bag as the market bubble bursts while the “smart money” swoops in to buy up the leftover assets at pennies on the dollar.
The game was being played as far back as 1814, when a uniformed man posing as the aide-de-camp of Lord Cathcart landed in Dover spreading the false rumour that Napoleon had been killed by a detachment of Cossacks. When the rumours reached London later that day, three men dressed up as French officers in white Bourbon cockades were parading across Blackfriars bridge proclaiming the end of the Napoleonic empire and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. By the time the British government officially dispelled the rumour later that afternoon, an elaborate fraud had already played out in the London stock markets. The rumour had kicked off a buying frenzy and the perpetrators of what is now known as The Great Fraud of Cowley—the ones who had started the rumours and hired the actors to help spread them—had already sold 1.1 million pounds worth of government stock into the market peak.
Another bit of market manipulation centering around Napoleon’s military fortunes played out again the next year, in 1815. Nathan Rothschild of the infamous Rothschild banking dynasty used the smuggling network that he and his brothers had built to funnel gold and silver to Wellington’s army to get news of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo back to London 24 hours before the official word reached the British government. Although a fancified version of the story involving homing pigeons and Nathan’s acting abilities at the stock exchange are easily dismissed as anti-Semitic slurs by the mainstream press, even the official Rothschild Archive treatment of the incident admits that Nathan Rothschild did receive early warning of Wellington’s victory and he did profit from that foreknowledge in the stock market. Historian Niall Ferguson has written on the subject in detail in his authorized biography of the Rothschilds and even the BBC published a story in 1998 outlining how the conspiracy functioned and how the brothers communicated in secret by writing their letters in the Judendeutsch script they had learned in their childhood in the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto.
The stock market con game isn’t just an historical relic, though. Those with advance knowledge of world events continue to profit from their insider information, sometimes in the most macabre way imaginable.