Should the people of Middle Earth have done Quantitative Easing to mitigate against Smaug’s tight monetary policy?

2 min read 2 Jan 13

Summary: Any blog that begins with the words “Smaug the dragon is typically viewed as a fiscal phenomenon…” has immediately got my attention. Please read The Macroeconomics of Middle Earth by Frances Woolley. Woolley compares the size of the dragon’s hoard with a picture of the gold reserves at the Bank of England – although it is likely that Smaug is the beneficial owner of his gold, rather than a custodian of gold for richer dragons elsewhere in Middle Earth. He concludes by suggesting that the peoples of Middle Earth should have abandoned the gold specie standard and adopted paper currency to reduce the deflationary drag that Smaug’s monetary tightness produced. Unfortunately though “the lack of a central bank, or indeed any but the most rudimentary monetary institutions, was a major obstacle to currency reform”. The comments are worth reading too – was Middle Earth an Optimal Currency Area? Before Smaug arrived, were the the Dwarves running Middle Earth like a petro-state?

*SPOILER ALERT* So Smaug dies in the end, and the gold was released into Middle Earth’s money supply. Was there hyper-inflation as a result? Or did Nominal GDP return to trend (i.e. the “catching up” theory that has been talked about by Central Bankers like Mark Carney lately) without longer term inflation problems? If there was hyper-inflation perhaps the political instability that resulted allowed the rise of Sauron as a leader, and the subsequent world war between Men and Elves, and Orcs?

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