Sunday, February 13, 2005

Interest rates, crime, and disease

I have observed during the whole time I have been in Lanarkshire that any rise in the rate of discount at the Bank of England has been immediately, or at least shortly, followed by an increase both of crime and of civil suits and, if it continues long, or mortality and typhus fever. So much so, that, as I am an official member of the prison board and of most of the Charities I have always made it a rule to say … “Gentlemen, the Bank of England have raised their discounts, you had better take measures for enlarging the prison accommodations and for extending the infirmaries and Poor houses.”

- A. Alison, Sheriff of Lanarkshire, 1848
Quoted in W.W. Rostow, "Business Cycles, Harvests, and Politics: 1790 - 1850" Journal of Economic History, Nov. 1941

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