Richard Cantillon is worth remembering. An Irishman, Cantillon was born in 1680 and died in 1734.
He went into banking in Paris and witnessed the rise and fall of John Law’s huge speculative business in all its glory, which ruined France. The business included saving the finances of the French Crown with a mythical investment in Louisiana, combined with the right to issue fiat money which the Regent of France granted to Law’s company.
Cantillon was a man of extraordinary intelligence. He detected the fraud which John Law was committing under the senseless protection of the Regent, and clearly understood its terrible and inevitable consequences.
During the period of the great boom in Law’s business the public gathered in crowds before John Law’s house in the Rue Quincampoix, in the feverish hope of acquiring shares.
Cantillon’s relatives came to see him, beseeching him to get some shares for them in John Law’s Enterprise. He told them he did not recommend that investment at all, but his relatives insisted he purchase shares for them.
Cantillon purchased the shares they wanted, with their money; as a banker, he had the shares in his power and could do with them what he wished, so long as they did not ask for delivery or give him instructions to sell. He immediately sold the shares of his relatives in exchange for gold. He also liquidated his own shares, in exchange for gold.
John Law’s financial Project soon went into a spectacular bankruptcy. Cantillon repurchased his relatives’ shares for pennies.
Cantillon put all his gold into a cart filled with hay and quietly left for Holland. From Holland he went over into England.
His relatives asked for their money back, but Cantillon delivered to them the shares they had insisted on purchasing, now worth nothing. He had purchased the shares they wanted, and delivered to them said shares, as specified under contract. His relatives sued him, but Cantillon’s case prevailed.
There are few men like Cantillon. Many millions of investors will be totally ruined when the present version of John Law’s fraud – the Stock Exchanges of the whole world, based on fiat money – go to the garbage can of History, as will have to happen.