Understanding Finance – Put the "you" in "usury"

NasdaqSo you know you have to invest your money, check. That’s step one. Now the question is: How do I make the most of my money in these uncertain times? It’s easy to get discouraged by the tales of inflation, sub-prime mortgages crunches, and sky-rocketing oil prices. Is now the time to buy low? Or should I wait it out longer for stock prices to fall in order to capitalize on the inevitability of their eventual rise? One approach to answering these questions is by looking at the past to learn lessons from history.

And no, I don’t mean the 80s.

Rather, we can look at a group of people who had a similar problem similar to the sub prime mortgage crunch, preventing them from owning land — the Jews.

William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice chronicles the Italian Renaissance, a time when Jews were prevented by law from owning land at all. Without the ability to invest in real-estate, the Jews looked toward another market — stupid people needing money. That is, they provided loans with the expectation of full repayment plus interest. This was dubbed “usury,” which is now synonymous with “loan sharking,” and was considered unchristian.

You too can be usurious and unchristian. Hey, it almost worked for Al Pacino Shylock. He almost had a return of 100% (had he not been mad for revenge.) All you need are:

  1. Money to begin with. This is called “capital.”
  2. Goons. They protect your investment. Should your goons turn on you, you may want an extra set of goons to protect you.
  3. Mercilessness. Don’t call off your goons before they’re done. Remind yourself that ample warnings were provided.

With all investments, however, remember that there is a level of risk involved. Be sure to do your own research into usury to understand whether it falls within your risk threshold. Even if you do not end up loan sharking, understanding usury will bring you one step closer to really understanding finance. Thanks for reading.

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