Trade

What A 16th Century Guild Teaches Us About Competition

Engraving of a weaver's workshop, 1558 i i

Engraving of a weaver's workshop, 1558 Tobias Stimer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Tobias Stimer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Engraving of a weaver's workshop, 1558

Engraving of a weaver's workshop, 1558

Tobias Stimer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On today's show, we hear the story of a 16th century German weavers' guild.

They were savvy political operators, who knew how to push their competitors out of the market. They set up a system of fines, wage ceilings, and public rebukes that would be the envy of a modern cartel.

It's a tale of economic monopoly and discrimination. Of inequality and conflict. And it's a story of how businesses can stifle innovation even today.

Our guest is Sheilagh Ogilvie, an economic historian at Cambridge.

Subscribe to the podcast. Music: Rihanna's "Watch n' Learn," and Loreena McKennitt's "Incantation." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify/ Tumblr.

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