[Dave Birch] For uninteresting reasons I was at Her Majesty’s Treasury today. I assumed that the treasure looted from the peasantry would be piled up in a room somewhere, but I may have been getting confused with the reign of Henry I because by the reign of Hnery II the Royal household had begun replacing treasure — which was inconvenient to cart around and a hassle to move from places where it was collected (eg, Cornwall) to places where it could be put to good use (eg, financing wars against France) — with tally sticks. Anyway, my plan was to steal office supplies to the approximate value of the taxes paid last year. But then I realised that I would need a fleet of lorries to execute this dastardly plot and settled for a cup of coffee instead.

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The Treasury is the major beneficiary of the arcane system of notes and coins that we use in this country. The note issuing department of the Bank of England, the most profitable nationalised industry Britain has ever seen, collects money from banks and in return gives them bits of paper and metal worth much less (a ten pound note costs considerably less than ten pounds to produce). It uses the surplus to buy Gilts from the Treasury and gives the interest earned on these instruments back to the government. So if digital money ever does displace notes and coins, the Chancellor will either have to up income tax by a couple of pence in the pound to make up this lost seigniorage or nationalise digital money and sell it to commercial banks instead of notes and coins.

I took a pointless picture to add to my growing (well, two) collection of monetary landmarks for the blog…


My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]

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