Comment of the Day: Will McLean: The Singularity Is in Our Past...: "A Commonplace Book: Buying Power of 14th Century Money: In the second half of the 14th century, a pound sterling would...

...Support the lifestyle of a single peasant laborer for half a year, or that of a knight for a week. Or buy:

  • Three changes of clothing for a teenage page (underclothes not included) or
  • Twelve pounds of sugar or
  • A carthorse or
  • Two cows or
  • An inexpensive bible or ten ordinary books or
  • Rent a craftsman’s townhouse for a year or
  • Hire a servant for six months

Think of a world in which a pound of sugar costs two weeks' wages—800 of today's dollars as a share of today's wages, or 60 of today's dollars using standard estimates of economic growth, or even the 20 that I think corresponds to "true" economic growth.

You can get sugar for 50 cents a pound at Walmart