Spice and Wolf, season 2, episode 4 – Someone’s going to need a bailout

For an episode that had basically no Horo (I refuse to go by Holo), and focused mostly on Lawrence’s schemes and deals with Amati and Mark, it flew by. That’s what not having mid-episode eyecatches will do for you.

Amati and Horo about to kissHoro looks at Amati longingly

The episode starts off with Lawrence wandering the streets, imagining the worst between Horo and Amati (or Amarty or whatever the hell is name is). Clearly Lawrence has some sort of romantic attachment to Horo, otherwise, he wouldn’t be imagining them kissing. But he curses himself for having such foolish thoughts and heads back to the inn, where he notices Horo looking longingly at a flamboyantly bowing Amati.

Lawrence is surprisedHoro's cute signature

He then heads inside to find that Horo’s left two letters for him. One being an accounting of all of Amati’s assets, which gets Lawrence’s hopes up that Horo’s pulling some tricks on Amati, and then the other being a marriage or engagement certificate – which basically provides insurance for the contract that Amati signed with Lawrence in the last episode. It prevents the likelihood of Amati paying for Horo’s freedom, and then having her skimp with Lawrence. It’s possible that she could tear up the marriage contract, but I imagine that comes with some sort of penalty. Essentially, Horo’s given Lawrence a big middle finger and told him to not count on her saving his ass for making a stupid deal.

angry AmatiAmati and Lawrence making deals

Lawrence then begins his wheeling and dealing. This is where things get a little fuzzy, and I may be mixing some stuff up about the deal, but here’s my understanding. Amati buys 10 pyrite pieces (for example) from Lawrence for 500 Trenni. If the value of pyrite doubles, Amati gets 500 Trenni from Lawrence in return for 5 pyrite. So he gets an opportunity to profit on the other 5 pyrites. If the value of pyrite halves, Amati would lose, and need to spend some of his savings to buy 10 more pieces of pyrite in order to pay back Lawrence 20 pieces of pyrite. But Amati’s pretty sharp and notes that all he needs to do is sell his pyrite while the price is high, and he can still make out even if the pyrite market crashes. Which is why Lawrence refers to the deal as a duel. Lawrence believes that he can make a crash happen. Amati thinks he can make a profit even if a crash occurs.

If I were Amati, knowing I had the assets to buy out Horo, I would’ve turned down the deal. Who gives a crap about mercantile pride when you’re sharing a bed with Horo. But Lawrence challenges Amati’s manhood, by talking about how Horo’s cried in his arms, and Amati takes the bait.

Lawrence tries to make a deal with markDeanna and the Alchemists

So Lawrence heads back to his fried Mark, and asks him to participate in making the market crash happen spreading a rumor about the value of wheat going up,and by purchasing some pyrite (with the 500 Trenni Lawrence received from Amati) so that Lawrence can flood the market. Mark is willing to spread the rumor of wheat prices going up, but turns down the offer of buying up all the pyrite, since unlike Lawrence who only needs to worry about profits and losses, Mark has his shop’s and his family’s reputation on the line. But since he’s a good friend of Lawrence’s, he lets him in on a secret. The alchemists that Deanna is so well connected to, have a large supply of pyrite that’s basically off the market right now. In actuality, assuming that slum’s market prices are completely distinct from the Kumerson’s market prices, this should work out even better for Lawrence than initially planned, since he’ll be able to buy even more pyrite at lower prices, without any impact on the Kumerson pyrite market. And because Amati’s a loner, he’ll be completely unaware that there’s going to be a huge surplus of pyrite to hit the market.

Lawrence was banking on the wheat rumor, and his own savings catching Amati by surprise, but I think the plan he originally had was pretty much a 50/50 toss-up. Because all of his dealings would’ve been within the Kumerson market, the price increases/decreases would’ve been more gradual than instant. I think Amati probably could’ve stayed abreast with the developments and either prevented his losses completely, or kept them to a minimum. The likelihood of him getting caught completely off guard and getting wiped out was pretty small – which is probably another reason why he was willing to take the risk. But like I mentioned above, because Lawrence can now make deals outside of the Kumerson market, he’s able to stockpile a supply and then dump it on the market to drop the price instantly.

It’s a clever plan by Lawrence, but he clearly lucked out in getting that piece of information from Mark. Lawrence still has some risk, because now he’s got to get Deanna and the alchemists bought out in less than 24 hours, but if he’s able to do that, he should pretty much be able to guarantee wiping out Amati (unless Amati screws Lawrence by selling his pyrite before Lawrence can get everything together, but that’s probably against some kind of merchant pride code or something).

Even if he’s able to outmaneuver Amati, I’m looking forward to him having to deal with angry Horo again. Lawrence is still a long way from winning.

7 Replies to “Spice and Wolf, season 2, episode 4 – Someone’s going to need a bailout”

  1. Actually, from what I understand the Lawrence/Amati contract is even simpler than that. Let’s say 500 Trenni = 10 pyrite at the time of the deal (however my hypothesis is that 500 Trenni is actually quite the sum, so is probably worth much more than 10 pieces). Regardless, Amati hands over the money, and Lawrence owes 10 pyrite to him the next day. The quantity of pyrite never changes, but the market prices in the meanwhile might.

    pyrite prices up –> Amati profits from 10 pyrite pieces now worth more than the 500 Trenni he gave Lawrence
    pyrite prices down –> Amati basically loses 500 Trenni for 10 pieces of worthless pyrite

    You’re obviously right that Amati had nothing to gain from this risk since he can buy and sell pyrite whenever he wanted to and not wait for Lawrence, but was taken by Lawrence’s challenge. Lawrence just needs the enormous bankroll to instigate his market crashing plan. Afterwards, he plans to pick up the 10 pyrite pieces he needs at a pittance, after ruining Amati.

    I never like to analyze the economics of Spice and Wolf, because by the next episode it’ll just blow up in our faces anyway, but my economic mind can’t resist.

    1. Geez, in that case the deal seems even worse off for Amati. Since I imagine a contract sale is probably not as simple as a on-the-spot physical sale. Tsk, tsk. He let pride get a hold of him.

      Yeah, I think 500 Trenni is a lot, since Amati’s paying 1,000 for Horo’s freedom. The 10 pieces was just to keep the math simple. 😀

  2. Yeah, Amati is a twit… Horo must make all the men in her life stupid through some sort of short-range telepathic signal or something.

    Lawrence is really lucky he has Mark around, but also lucky he really isn’t the dumbass so many people think he is. The fact that he’s so smitten with Horo he sees her everywhere, and yet he has the cojones to play God with the market (and well), is something else.

    That icy stare from the window at Lawrence was another real “screw you” wasn’t it? The look on Lawrence’s face as he climbed the stairs in the inn.. man I was almost looking forward to seeing him genuinely angry. Too bad she dropped the ball by leaving the marriage contract with the innkeeper.. that was a surefire way to NOT talk to Lawrence – yet more proof she doesn’t understand the dude.

  3. Yes, I know how old this post is, but as someone fairly bad at reading subs, along with my limited understanding of economics, these posts are a lifeline for me. Not only do they increace my understanding of the plot, but they greatly enhance my enjoyment. so, THANK YOU SO MUCH 😀

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