Anorak | So William Shakespeare was a speculator in grain was he? The man was a saint

So William Shakespeare was a speculator in grain was he? The man was a saint

by | 3rd, April 2013


AND good on Willy Shakespeare for being a speculator in grant. For it is speculation in food that ekes out the harvest from year to year. Without them we’d all start getting damn hungry around May while waiting for the August harvest.

The claim is here :

However, a new study has found that he was repeatedly prosecuted and fined for illegally hoarding food, and threatened with jail for failing to pay his taxes, The Sunday Times reported.

Court and tax records show that over a 15-year period Shakespeare purchased grain, malt and barley to store and resell for inflated prices, according to a paper by Aberystwyth University academics Dr Jayne Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas.

The study notes: “By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his home town, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits – minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion – meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”

And of course we’re all meant to go “Boo, Hiss!” at the way that he profited from the need for food of others.

Which of course is complete bullshit :

No doubt Shakespeare was prosecuted under the engrossing and forestalling laws rightly excoriated by Adam Smith in Chapter V of Book IV of Wealth of Nations (“Digression Concerning the Corn Trade and Corn Laws.”)  Laws which Smith demonstrated actually contributed to dearth and famine.  As Smith clearly showed, rather than being exploitative, the speculative storage of grain reduced the likelihood and severity of “dearth”.

If you want to read the full 18th century prose version of why it’s bullshit it is there, in the link, starting at para 40.

The short version is that if you buy when it’s cheap you raise that

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Posted: 3rd, April 2013 | In: Money Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink

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  • Bimmerman

    The EU used to produce food mountains to artificially raise prices for farmers, so state intervention must be good? Commodity prices are dictated by supply and demand. Speculators increase the price. They don’t physically hoard commodities for a future date, so supply and demand remains unaffected. So what evidence is there that commodity speculation lowers the long term price or maintians supply to benefit the consumer? Oil is produced, shipped and consumed with a fast turnover. Speculators don’t alter the rate of consumption, that is dictated by need. They do inflate the price by adding their own profit margin to it. How does this benefit the consumer?