econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 10 July 2015

Historical Echoes: The Year Of The . . . Pigeon?

by Liberty Street Economics

-- this post authored by Amy Farber carrier pigeon

One could say that Sesame Streetcharacter Bert's extreme interest in paper clips is misguided, but hisobsession with pigeons? Maybe not so much. Pigeons have played a role in financial history, with one such role described by Tony Chen during his walking tour of the Hutong district in Beijing. When his group of tourists reaches the Qianshi hutong (see video), he gives an almost unbelievable account of pigeons, exchange rates, and bank robbers during the Ming dynasty, as reported in Time Out Beijing:

This is where the central bank from the Ming dynasty was located as well as the place the rate of exchange was set every day. Tour and hiking guide Tony Chen, says this information was announced by tying pieces of paper with the rate written on the[m]to the feet of pigeons that were then released into the air to spread the world [sic]. Qianshi hutong is Beijing's narrowest at 44 centimetres. Only one person can pass through at a time, a safety feature devised by the bank to deter gangs of robbers. The original bank building still stands.

Although one might question here whether the central bank mentioned was really to be considered a "central bank" in our current understanding of the term, nevertheless, the idea of pigeons flying around with exchange rate information tied to them is perhaps not so outlandish. The online text to accompany a 2012 exhibit at the Museum of American Finance (yes, the same museum that has been hosting "The Fed at 100"), called "Stock Trading Then and Now," states that:

Before the telegraph arrived in the 1950s, brokers would place agents on top of hills and buildings between Philadelphia and New York City with signal flags and telescopes to rely [sic] stock prices between cities in about half-an-hour. Homing pigeons were also used to transmit information.

A bit more corroboration on the likelihood of Tony Chen being right about those pigeons is a 2000 article from the New York Times about the wonderful accomplishments of pigeons during the Ming dynasty and later in history:

Raising pigeons is a practice that dates from the Ming dynasty, when they were used by armies as messengers. (There is a military-run pigeon farm today in Kunming in southern Yunnan Province where pigeons are reportedly trained to fly information into difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.)

"We have a long history of pigeon culture," said Wang Shixiang, a retired breeder.

By the 17th century there were acrobatic pigeons doing air shows. The feet of pigeons were adorned with elaborately carved bamboo whistles, which piped music as they flew. The tradition continues in Beijing today.

So perhaps Bert is justified in his love of pigeons and loyalty to the fictional TV show "The Wonderful World of Pigeons."

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.

Source

http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2015/07/historical-echoes-the-year-of-the-pigeon.html#.VZ-qIvlViWU


About the Author

Amy Farber is a research librarian in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Research and Statistics Group.

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.




Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Why Long-Run Theories of Profit and Accumulation Fall Short
Brexit - Who Wins and Loses
News Blog
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 24 April 2017
What Americans Think About Climate Change
What We Read Today 23 April 2017 - Special Public Edition
What We Read Today 23 April 2017
What Would A Civilization 1 Billion Years Older Than Us Be Like
Understanding The Downward Trend In Labor Income Shares
Why Renegotiating NAFTA Could Disrupt Supply Chains
Public Relations Nightmares
Catch Me If You Can
U.S. Consumer Debt Rises Overall, Housing Debt Drops
Infographic Of The Day: Graphene Is The Game-Changing Material Of The Future
Early Headlines: CB Bal. Sheets Still Growing, GOP Doing Too Much, May Threw Ulster Under Bus, French Election, China Vs. Pollution, Venzuela Gave To Trump Inaug., And More
NOAA and JAMSTEC Issue Seasonal Updates - Winter in Doubt
Investing Blog
The Week Ahead: Build That Wall!
How To Trade Earnings Announcements
Opinion Blog
What Does The Strong Q1 Growth Mean For China?
Marx, Orwell And State-Cartel Socialism
Precious Metals Blog
Three Gold Plays For The New Era Of Chaos
Live Markets
21Apr2017 Market Close: US Stocks Slipped Moderately, WTI Crude Slips On Renewed Concerns Of Increasing U.S. Production, Industrial Businesses' Cash Outflows Concern Investors
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government































 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved