|The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about people living in the Fuggerei - a Roman Catholic housing settlement for the poor in Augsberg, Germany.|
People who live here still pay the same rent that was set when the Fuggerei was first opened - in 1520! Then, the rent was 1 Rhein Guilder a year and 3 daily prayers for the well being of the Fugger banking family (make up your own jokes about "Fugg"ing bankers ;-) ).
Today, the equivalent to 1 Rhein Guilder/year is 0.88 euros ($1.23) per year.
The founder of the Fuggerei was Jakob Fugger "The Rich":
Jakob the Rich was Wall Street long before it existed. He minted coins for the Vatican, bankrolled the Holy Roman Empire and helped steer Europe's spice trade in the early 16th century to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful financiers in history. He left more than seven tons of gold to his successors -- and a good deed.
Much of the Fugger business empire crumbled over the next 150 years, battered by wars and soured credits. But the walled Fuggerei, with its picturesque lanes and seven gates in the heart of this onetime European banking capital, still stands.
The Fuggerei is a good testament to the power of long term investing - even at conservative rates of return.
In the late 17th century, after losing money in riskier investments, the bulk of the trust was invested conservatively - in old forest holdings. Since then, over the last 200 years, the trust has never lost money. The returns have ranged from 0.5% - 2%.