Gamer’s Guide: Banking Origins Part II

Sup player 2 (I’m player 1)

Welcome back to GGAL! Just before I get started I wanted to say that I’m liking how I’ve got a whole intro thing going on. That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say about that.

Anyway, this week’s post is the follow up to my little introduction on banking, if that doesn’t interest you then tough! Not only is the next post not out yet, I don’t even know what I’m gonna talk about! Unless you’re reading this in the future Majora’s Mask style, then that’s all kinds of weird (Before you get @ me about improper use of Majora’s Mask, please understand that that’s the only time travel game that I could think of. So, bite me.) Now, while the last post was talking a bit about the origins of banks and how the initial roots of the industry began to sprout (how’s that for a metaphor), this week I’m gonna go into how the banking sector works now, or at least how it works on an institutional level.

Cast your mind back more than 3 days (happy now you Zelda freaks) to the early Goldsmith’s of Skyrim. Protecting not only their gold, but also the wares of all the local Khajiits in their big iron vaults. Now, the locals realised something that every Elder Scrolls player has had the misfortune of finding out; carrying stuff sucks! Gold is like dragon bones, yeah, they may be valuable but they can be a real Hagraven to carry around. So why bother? Honestly, its not like anyone is stealing your gold as no one has access except the Goldsmith, so why not just leave it in there. “But how do I buy muh supplies!”, I hear you scream. Well, instead of having physical gold, lets instead have a place holder made of paper, perhaps a document signed by the goldsmith that says something like “I pity the fool who thinks the holder of this document is entitled to X amount of Gold”. See, ain’t that easier to lug through Blackreach than 80 pounds of metal. Now I can hear the dwarven gears in your head turning ( ‘dwarven gears’ jeez i’m stretching hard to make this metaphor work).


He probably makes gold too

This next part is how Ye Old Goldsmith starts to sound a lot more like Lehman Brothers so I need you to pay attention, yes that means you, stop checking your twitter! At this point the friendly neighbourhood smithy has cottoned on to something curious, no one had really come to check up on the gold. No one. Everyone is feeling pretty safe with their gold being locked away and since they can now use paper documents to buy things, the gold has just kinda been forgotten about, kinda like that guy camping at the back of the plane on Terminal in MW2. So, the good ole smithy has a brilliant idea, a special idea. Since no one really knows how much gold they’ve got, why not just start lending the paper money to Ysolda so she can finally start that store of hers. But don’t stop there, lend it to anyone, Stormcloaks and Imperials, mages and companions, and screw it, even lend to the Argonians! Nope, can’t do it, they suck, they suck hard. But you get the picture, seeing as no one knows how much gold you have, technically you can lend as much gold as you want! Sure, maybe this is game breaking to the economy but who cares! You’re rich! Filthy rich, seeing as you get a portion of interest on each little micro-transaction and if you wanna do the math; 10% of infinity is still infinity so the message is clear: lend as much as you can!

At this point, Goldilocks’s little side project had become so lucrative that it was time to quit her day job and go full time into the lending gig. Now if only there were a name for it, probably would sound good if it started with a “B”. Hmmmmmm.

Photo by Philip Veater on Unsplash

Actual photo of my current savings

Oh well here’s where things got tricky. As little Goldi decided to upgrade her life, buy the Jarl’s throne and move in to Dragonsreach, the Jarls’ of the world began to question things. How did the humble old Goldsmith get richer than us!? So, they decided to investigate and were certainly not happy with what they found. Goldilocks was making money off their gold! That skeever-scat! The question now is what to do? Yeah, they could send the goldsmith off to Helgen for a bit of a, ahem, haircut, or they could do something a little more worthwhile and a little less bloody; demand your fair share! So now the Dragonborn not only gets somewhere to keep their gold, but they even get a tiny piece of interest, while the Goldsmith, ah forget it, the bank gets to lend other peoples money at a very juicy rate.

And that, kids, is how the Thieves Guild banking industry began. Obviously, this story gets even more complicated once you examine how banks changed in the last 100 years but that is a story for another time. And before you ask, no. That time is not next week, I need a break for these bloodsuckers, or if you represent a bank’s HR department, esteemed potential employers. Any who, that’s all for today, catch you next week for more GGAL!

GG Everyone

In case in you can’t wait for more GGAL, don’t forget that I’m still on twitter! @gitgudatlife

Follow me @gitguatlife

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