History

The economics of piracy: CGP Grey explains

No surprise to discover that pirates in real life were not like pirates in the movies (or in Doctor Who).

But there is lots to surprise and interest in the reality of pirates, especially the way economics drove egalitarian-ish decision-making, as these videos from CGP Grey explain:

It all reminds me of how financial self-interest, and the secondary market in ransom futures (as we’d now think of it), drove attitudes towards prisoners in past centuries. In short – treating prisoners well had an ethical underpinning but also a strong financial self-interest.

CGP Grey’s videos are based on The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter T. Leeson.

The book is a little dry, being more textbook than thriller in tone. But it really brings home just how financially attractive piracy could be and the self-interested logic that produced relatively democratic systems on pirate ships.

You can buy The Invisible Hook from Waterstones or Amazon.

The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by

ISBN: 9780691150093
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