Thursday 12 January 2012

In a pique on Darien

(Joke stolen from Flann O'Brien)

Imagine, if you will, that an indigent friend comes to you asking for just under £400,000 having gone bankrupt.  Being a generous soul, you agree to the sum, but as a condition the friend agrees to enter into business with you.  Some way down the line, the friend decides to exit the business.  Might you, perhaps, want your money back, compounded?

This is roughly what has happened with our Caledonian neighbours, who we bailed out in 1707 with the Act of Union, their having blown rather a lot of money on their attempt to build an empire in what is now Panama in the quite extraordinarily ill-fated Darien Scheme - see here, here or the inevitable Wikipedia link.

Anyway,  £398,085 (and the all important 10 shillings) in 1707 terms would be worth rather more now, and the rather nifty calculator at measuringworth suggests £52m based on RPI or £725m based on average earnings.

I look forward to Alec Salmond including this sum in his next budget.