Financial Discipline for all.

The story of Adolf Merckle

Adolf Merckle was one of Germany’s richest business man. He developed his grandfather’s chemical wholesale company into Germany’s largest pharmaceutical wholesaler, Phoenix Pharmahandel . He was educated as a lawyer,  but spent most of his time investing. He lived in Germany with his wife and four children.

In 2006, he was the world’s 44th richest man. Merckle’s group of companies employed 100,000 workers and had an annual turnover of 30 billion euros (around 39.9 billion U.S. dollars).

All this turned upside down after his business empire was plunged into difficulties due to the financial crisis. Merckle hit the headlines in 2008 when he suffered massive losses on investments he had made on movements of the share price in Volkswagen, Europe’s largest car company.

On Jan 06,2009 German news agency DPA reported that –  Merckle, 74, threw himself under a train at his hometown of Blaubeuren, a small town near southern Germany city of Ulm, and a railway worker found his body by the side of the track.

Before his death, he had been negotiating with banks for a bridging loan of 400 million euros (around 547 million U.S. dollars) to save his empire, which includes the pharmaceutical company ratiopharm and drugs maker Phoenix. That figure shows the depth of financial crisis he had.

The picture above shows the place where his body was found. What a tragic end to the life of one of the world’s richest man.


Here’s more -

In Jan 2009 , The national suicide preventing hotline in US reports that, calls have soared by as much as 60 per cent over the past year – many of the  calls were from people who have lost their home, or their job, or who still have a job but can’t meet the cost of living.

A 45-year-old businessman in Los Angeles murdered five members of his family before turning the gun on himself, saying in a suicide note that he had done so because of his troubling financial situation.

Karthik Rajaram, 45, who had made almost £900,000 on the London stock market, shot his wife, three children and mother-in-law in the head before shooting himself at the family home near Los Angeles.He did this after seeing his family’s fortune wiped out by the stock market collapse.

A 90-year-old Ohio widow shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years.

In Massachusetts, a housewife who had hidden her family’s mounting financial crisis from her husband sends a note to the mortgage company warning: “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead. Then, Carlene Balderrama,  shot herself to death, leaving an insurance policy and the suicide note on a table.


Thousands commit suicide unable to bear the pressure and crisis, that mismanaged investments create.

Internet and newspapers report about people falling prey to financial frauds like ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes and money chains, eventually losing every penny they had earned.

Did you know that a small state like Kerala spends more than Rs 40 crores a day on lottery tickets alone?According to’s reporter Shantanu Guha Ray , Illegal lottery tickets account for atleast 60 per cent —Roughly Rs 7,200 crore — of the Rs 13,000 crore gambled every year on lottery tickets in India. All sections of the society are involved in this. I know doctors, HR consultants, engineers, stock market investors, Government officials,housewives and students who regularly put money in lottery tickets. Anyway, lottery tickets ( if you’re lucky to get an original one :) ) at-least gives you a chance to win.

There is another section of people who gets involved in money chains – where wealth gained by participants entering the scheme earlier, is the wealth actually lost by those coming later. In-spite of hearing about many schemes in which people have lost their wealth, India continues to be a happy hunting ground for such fraudulent operators. The root cause of all this can be brought under one head-Greed for money and  financial illiteracy.

This is exactly the reason why we will first discuss about the basic principles of money management . People spend lakhs to get a  doctor’s degree or a MBA from the most prestigious of  institutes. They spend a lot to pursue their hobbies such as music and salsa.  But when it comes to managing their money , they hardly make any effort to learn  at-least the basics , forget about gaining specialized knowledge !

The next chapter will take you through the basic principles of money management. These principles are important to everyone out there– housewives, businessmen,musicians, students, professionals , priests , social workers.. anyone who deals with money directly or indirectly.