Chapter 147

Luo Huai Yuan naturally wouldn’t bring Shen Qi to some brothel. He was just mouthing off.

The two chatted for quite a while, telling each other about their own circumstances. Luo Huai Yuan hadn’t come to the Fu Province in a while and heard about many of the recent changes from Shen Qi.

That night, Shen Qi arranged a banquet for Luo Huai Yuan. The two of them drank until they were wasted. The next day, the two went their separate ways. Shen Qi returned to the barracks and Luo Huai Yuan busied himself with his own affairs.

The businesses here had developed extremely smoothly. With Xie Mao and Shen Xuan’s people keeping watch, along with Luo Huai Yuan’s aides managing things, they were raking it in. Just the textile production was a money-making machine. Luo Huai Yuan would only take some of the surplus, and the rest was invested into merchant vessels after discussing with Xie Mao and Shen Xuan.

At this moment, the three of them already owned over seven vessels.

Currently, trading overseas was extremely profitable. Merchant vessels were golden geese to those who owned them. Even if they didn’t need that many ships for their own goods, the moment a ship was setting sail, merchants without ships of their own would flock over. Merchant vessels took a cut dependant upon the amount of goods being transported. It was clearly very profitable.

Luo Huai Yuan made a tour of his various businesses before meeting with Xie Mao. The two of them were business partners, but ultimately Xie Mao had put in a little more effort. While Luo Huai Yuan was in the capital and Shen Xuan was busy with the navy, Xie Mao was one of the navy’s commanders in name but wasn’t actually that busy.

After not seeing him for a few years, Xie Mao was currently glowing. It seemed he had been living very well these years.

This was truly the case. Many people sucked up to him due to his current position. With power and wealth, everything was going smoothly for him.

Xie Mao naturally didn’t forget who had brought his current success. After interacting with him for several years, he could tell that this junior called “Chen Yun” didn’t have a simple identity. Xie Mao was a trusted aide of the Zhenguo Duke and was naturally familiar with the Shen household’s situation in the capital. Based on this, he was pretty much able to figure out the truth. A fatty that was extremely close with the Shen household. Who else could he be apart from the husband of the Zhenguo Duke’s granddaughter, the fourth prince?

But since the other party didn’t say it, Xie Mao was content with acting oblivious. Often times, it was better for people to be a little more tactful.

Xie Mao hosted a banquet to entertain Luo Huai Yuan and the two spoke a lot during it. After chatting casually, Luo Huai Yuan got to the point.

This was his goal for coming here this time. He had such plans long ago, but the time hadn’t been ripe. Now, it was the perfect moment.

On the way to the Fu Province, Luo Huai Yuan had gotten information on the circumstances of some small nations from people he knew. It seemed that the thoughts of people during this era wasn’t that advanced yet. Perhaps after some time, some insightful businessmen would be able to notice this, but it wasn’t the case at this moment.

Luo Huai Yuan slowly laid out his thoughts. Xie Mao was astonished and then alarmed, until finally his mouth fell open.

After a long, long time, he finally spoke: “Bro Chen, if what your saying really works out, we, we…..”

Xie Mao’s eyes had turned red. This was because what Luo Huai Yuan was saying went against all conventions. It clearly sounded like a fantasy, but he was someone who had created miracles before. Perhaps it was also because of the merchant’s blood flowing in Xie Mao’s veins, but he actually felt it might be feasible!

He stood up restlessly and paced back and forth. After a while, he finally sat down across from Luo Huai Yuan. Seemingly realizing that he had lost his composure, he lifted his glass to cover it up and said: “This matter definitely isn’t as simple as Bro Chen is making it out to be. Is it possible to speak about it in detail?”

Luo Huai Yuan spoke about his thoughts in further detail.

Actually, this insight from Luo Huai Yuan had come from his modern knowledge of a piece of the Ming Dynasty’s history. In the later part of the Ming Dynasty, because of the flourishing trade on the waters, many merchants had discovered a sort of business opportunity. It was something known in the modern world as speculating on foreign currency.

At this time, the Grand Xi’s circumstances were similar to the Ming Dynasty’s. However, due to the diverging of history, there were many things that were different. It was similar in that the Grand Xi’s position in the world was very significant. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it the center of the world. The Grand Xi’s silk, tea leaves, porcelain and cloth, along with many crafted objects, were extremely popular everywhere. Even something common like its currency was valuable.

Many of the small nations weren’t proficient in smelting copper. However, due to the sea trade, they needed a universally trusted currency to use in their deals. Minting their own currency would first of all require their own copper mines or a steady source of copper. They would also need sufficient skill and the proportion to other materials was also important. If the proportions weren’t appropriate, the resulting coins wouldn’t last long. Of course, the most important thing was whether this coin could be circulated, and whether its value would be recognized when doing business.

These were all problems that needed to be overcome. The simplest way was to import currency from a trusted nation to use as their own.

Because the Grand Xi was a strong and prosperous nation, its economy was ranked amongst the best. The quality of its copper coins were first class and it could be stored for a long time. With its power and wealth, its coin was very secure. To some of the smaller nations, it was better to import some of the Grand Xi’s copper coins to use as their own currency.

With such large influence, there were many opportunities.

For example, they could import some copper from overseas and export copper coins from Grand Xi. As people at the peak of the Grand Xi, it wasn’t difficult for Luo Huai Yuan, Xie Mao and the Zhenguo Duke to do what those smaller nations couldn’t. The Grand Xi also circulated silver, not just copper coins. It was only due to the scarcity of gold and silver that copper became the standard circulated coin within the Grand Xi. However, what was lacking in the Grand Xi wasn’t necessary lacking in other nations. They could absolutely send over copper coins in exchange for silver from the outside. This was essentially making money without any work, and could also be called speculation.

Luo Huai Yuan had heard about the exchange rate of copper and silver in some of the countries. A tael of silver could be exchanged for around nine hundred copper coins in the Grand Xi. In other countries, the same tael of silver only needed three hundred copper coins. The purchase power of copper coins exceeded that of silver.

These were all business opportunities that made one shiver all over when thinking about it.

Therefore, Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t too surprised that Xie Mao lost his composure. Was there anything more exciting than making money without doing any work?

Of course, there were bound to be problems when doing this. For example, the large influx of silver and the outflow of copper coins woud result in inflation and deflation.

It was just that Luo Huai Yuan could faintly see a trace of danger when the Grand Xi opened up its ports. The overseas trade was truly lucrative, but underneath the shadow of the major benefits, the Grand Xi was using its national produce to exchange for countless coins. The national treasury seemed to be increasing but ultimately the economy didn’t really receive any improvement. Instead, it was those small nations that grew.

Of course, it wasn’t correct to say there were no benefits. However, as the largest exporter, could the Grand Xi sustain this volume?

These weren’t problems Luo Huai Yuan could concern himself with. Whether the he had the capability to worry about it was one matter. The issues of economy and foreign exchange between nations was an extremely complicated topic even in modern times. How could it be something an otaku like him could understand?

Due to his foresight he did see some of the underlying issues. However, for him it was a problem for the future. As of now, victory and defeat were still undecided. He was struggling for his own future so any responsibility towards the nation was still very far away.

Taking ten thousand steps back, if fate was truly inevitable and his outcome was bad, might as well leave a hidden explosive behind for the Jin Emperor that sinister fellow. Blowing him to bits was also a pretty good idea.

Ultimately, all Luo Huai Yuan wanted to do at the moment was to get a large amount of money. Then he would recruit people to his side and make preparations. He wasn’t considering anything else at the moment.

The two of them discussed for a long, long time. The dishes at the banquet were switched out several times. Only when it was almost midnight did Xie Mao let Luo Huai Yuan return to his guest room to rest. He himself returned to his room and pondered how things should be arranged.

*

After accomplishing his main task, Luo Huai Yuan seemed to be a little idle.

Therefore, he recalled the existence of Yan Zhi.

Yan Zhi was Yan Yan’s eldest uncle after all. Prior to leaving, Yan Yan had also told him that even if it was just for Xue-shi’s sake, he should take care of him a little.

Luo Huai Yuan asked Xie Mao and learned about Yan Zhi’s situation.

After arriving at the Fu Province, Yan Zhi entered the city’s shipping office. With Shen Xuan, Xie Mao and Luo Huai Yuan helping him, his starting point was higher than most people.

However, Yan Zhi was also a tactful one. They gave him benefits but that didn’t mean he could wantonly squander it. After entering the office, he didn’t mention these relationships to anyone. He worked hard one step at a time, as though he had no backing at all.

Yan Zhi was quick-witted and had a golden touch. Soon, he got into the swing of things. Not only was his relationship with his direct superior pretty good, he slowly started getting some connections with many local merchants.

After figuring out the situation, he easily used his job to ask the merchants he was close with to bring him stuff from overseas. He started off doing just a little bit and saw his coworkers doing the same. Gradually, he started getting bolder.

From the fourth prince’s description previously, he knew there were quite a few benefits to be had. After spending some time here, Yan Zhi finally understood the details. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say riches were falling from the heavens. The minor officials in similar positions were all eating their fill.

Furthermore, this wasn’t something illegal. After all, they weren’t embezzling the court’s silver. They were just using the many merchants who wanted to curry favor, and had them conveniently bring some things back. The goods were paid for with their own money. They used the merchants and had them bring back whatever was popular within the Grand Xi. The moment the goods arrived, there would be people looking to take it off their hands.

Within a few months, Yan Zhi had saved quite a good amount of silver.

He pondered for a while and bought a residence. He had someone quietly send word back to the capital, telling Xue-shi to come over with their sons.

When the old madam passed away, Yan Zhi didn’t hurry back for the funeral. In theory, the court required officials to have a period of mourning when their parents passed away. However, Yan Zhi understood this opportunity was hard to come by and he had resigned his official’s post prior to leaving for the Fu Province. He had told everyone he was starting a business. The Fu Province’s shipping office didn’t have a regulated system for its officials. Although he was a ninth-ranked functionary in name, he was actually just doing some odd jobs. This wasn’t within the court’s regulations and was just part of the local organization.

The lofty emperor was far away and Yan Zhi was a minor character. With Xue-shi helping wave things away in the capital and him living by himself in the Fu Province, no one knew about it.

After Xue-shi received the letter, she was a little bewildered.

Prior to leaving, Yan Zhi had said to wait until he found his footing and settled down before going over. He hadn’t been gone for a year yet, but had already settled down?

Of course Xue-shi also knew her husband wasn’t one to speak wildly. She secretly packed up and left the capital with her sons.

Xue-shi only told Shen Yi Yao and the married Yan Ru about this, and they naturally wouldn’t blab.

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