Another note on banking
Awash in Latin American gold and silver from the sixteenth century on, the Spaniards mistook bullion - money - for wealth, that is, for a form of reality, and so undermined their own economy. Because they had the money, which is normally the outcome of making and trading something, they didn't think they had to bother with the production side of their economy. So once the bullion was spent, there was nothing left. They had mistakenly seen some divine providence in the ease with which so much had fallen into their hands. Here was an early warning of the dangers attached to confusing economics with belief systems. Spain didn't understand tht the only purpose of money was as a grease or glue for reality. Today that Spanish imperial childishness seems very modern.
-- John Ralston Saul in The Collapse of Globalism