Shakespeare in Defense of Fixed Income

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Actually, the critic Frederick Turner anoints William Shakespeare as the poet of capitalism, not just high-yield bonds and interest. It’s worth reading in its entirety but we especially enjoyed this passage:

What they ignored is that Shakespeare did not disapprove, as his critics did, of the taking of interest. In fact, he evidently regarded it as the foundation of Venetian prosperity, and he has Antonio, one of his most positive characters, invest money at interest to support the newlyweds Lorenzo and Jessica, one of whom is Jewish. Most striking of all, Shylock is punished at the end for not taking the exorbitant interest he has been offered on his bond, but insisting on the worthless pledge of the pound of flesh. In other words, Shakespeare's anti-business critics are completely blind to the implication that Shakespeare is the very opposite of the economic anti-Semite, that he regards the spread of "use" or interest as a creative and valuable, if not very exalted, form of real progress. Shakespeare himself was a large investor in bonds and other interest-bearing securities. His famous words "neither a borrower nor a lender be" are put in the mouth of the "wretched, rash, intruding fool" Polonius, the time-pleasing state bureaucrat in Hamlet who so richly deserves his rather nasty fate, stabbed while spying on a private conversation.


The Merchant of Avon
[Reason magazine via Two Blowhards]

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