Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Shakespeare? Et tu, price gouger?

Wow.  So Shakespeare actually used his capital to speculate in food and commodities. 


William Shakespeare was a 'ruthless businessman' and tax dodger, researchers have claimed. 
Although he wrote plays that championed the rights of the poor and the needy, archived documents show the playwright was actually a wealthy landowner repeatedly dragged before the courts and fined for illegally stockpiling food and threatened with jail for evading taxes.

He 'stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to neighbours and local tradesmen' at a time when Europe was suffering famines, the academics said, and channelled the profits into land purchases. 
They added that Shakespeare did all he could to 'avoid taxes, maximise profits at others' expense and exploit the vulnerable – while writing plays about their plight'. 
And his approach of 'combining both illegal and legal activities' meant he could retire after a working life of only 24 years.

Researchers at Aberystwyth University carried out an academic study looking into Shakespeare's 'other life' as one of Warwickshire's biggest landowners and have uncovered the less than savoury side to Britain's greatest playwright. The allegation he exploited famine has also led to suggestions that his Coriolanus, for years regarded as a plea for the starving poor, was in fact his way of trying to expunge a guilty conscience.

Note the allegedly dastardly thing he did.  Shakespeare stored grain when food was plentiful, and sold it when there was famine and shortage.  What a BASTARD!  It would have been much more moral to do nothing to ease the food shortage, right?  Um...wait, that can't be right.  It would appear t hat he increased the food supply when there was a famine.  Tell me again why that's bad?

There's more.

Grateful nod to M. Kaan. 


  1. Mike, doesn't your own "Analytical Theory of Just Market Exchange" say that Shakespeare should have sold the grain at cost (achieving zero surplus for himself) when he faced buyers whose circumstances were much more dire than his own?

  2. No, we don't. THis is the case of the "grain in Danzig." http://polisci.duke.edu/uploads/media_items/ppe-working-paper-13-0318.original.pdf


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?