Friday, 9 December 2016

salvataggio interno o zero my hero

I could be forgiven for the false memory and insistence that we’d in fact visited the oldest operational bank in the world in Siena—a victim apparently of the failed plebiscite for congressional reform but more on this later, having mistaken the layout of the ancient town square next to the signature campanile for the nearby city of Lucca, also host to a very venerable financial institution. The Bank of Siena is being denied a further deferment in order to refinance its debts and will probably throw itself on the mercy of the government to stay solvent—or at least not pull down scores of other banks with it.
While I am sorry that Matteo Renzi’s referendum efforts to reduce government gridlock did not pass and he’s resigning his commission over it, the dissolution of Italian government is a pretty routine thing and nothing to get all hot and bothered about. Perhaps this was the excuse needed to otherwise extort the veteran lender and her creditors. I am not sure of the solvency of Banco di Lucca but I suspect it’s faring much better, being attended by the relic, not of human hands, Volto Santo (see link above). Seemingly apropos of nothing, “by the Holy Face of Lucca,” was the favoured oath and battle-cry of William Rufus of England, by there might be somewhat of a segue to be found, as William II’s great ambition was to himself go on Crusade but didn’t live to see the Holy Land. As part of the Duchy of Tuscany, both the banks at Siena and Lucca from the end of the eleventh century for a generation or so were subject to the same embargo enforced in accountancy against the Arabic-Hindi numerals that the early Crusaders were bringing back with them. Traditional Roman book-keeping was Christian and eschewed the Muslims’ dread zero, both as a place-holder and as a concept of nothing, a dangerous gateway to negative numbers and creative ways of handling debts and deficit—so I guess the financiers won out the end.