Have you ever played “The Landlord’s Game”? The board game, not the hide and seek on the first of the month that some of us played with our landlords when we were younger! The game, first patented in 1904, was designed to protest land monopolism.
The rules were such that all players were rewarded when wealth was created. But in the second patent in 1924, a contrary set of rules were added. In this version, which became far more popular, players bought properties and built houses and hotels, all with the intention of bankrupting their competitors.
Yes, Monopoly! And thus began the appropriation of the original game narrative – by its transformation into the opposite of what it was meant to be. But that wasn’t the only Monopoly narrative that got appropriated. Before we look at the games people play, let’s track some market plays.
1. Despite a Friday frenzy sparked by the spike in bond yields and the Biden administration’s first military action, the India growth narrative is intact. Japanese brokerage Nomura has projected a 13.5% GDP growth for India in FY‘22, even higher than the RBI’s 10.5%. The latter is close to the S&P Global Ratings and the IMF forecasts, both of whom have added that India will be among the fastest growing economies in the next fiscal. To put this in perspective, the IMF has predicted a 5.5% growth for the global economy, with the US at 5.2% and Europe at 4.2%.
2. The S&P and Nomura projections are based on business resumption indices across manufacturing, services, and labour-market sectors. Earnings reports of FMCG companies from the previous quarter showed increased consumer spending on discretionary items. The consumption basket has also broadened thanks to the gradual opening up of public places, and thus, increasing mobility.
3. The narratives that did take a hit were those of ULIPs and PFs. This year’s budget has proposed that the returns on an ULIP policy whose annual premium is greater than Rs 2.5 lakhs would be taxable as capital gains. Our perspective of keeping insurance and investments separate is now officially a good idea! In the case of EPF, the proposal is to tax the interest earned on the PF balance if the employee’s contribution exceeds Rs 2.5 lakh in a year.
Charles Darrow is widely acknowledged as the creator of Monopoly. He sold it to Parker Brothers, who were acquired by Hasbro. But during a legal battle in the 1970s, it was (re)discovered that Monopoly’s original inventor wasn’t Darrow. It was Elizabeth J. Magie, a firebrand crusader of abolitionism and women’s rights. Once, finding it difficult to get by on her $10 stenographer salary, she ran an advertisement offering herself as a slave to the highest bidder. It was her way of mocking marriage as the only option for women.
Magie’s second patent of The Landlord’s Game was what finally became Monopoly. She had patented the game twice, in an era when women held less than 1% of the patents. But while Darrow became the first millionaire game designer, Parker Brothers bought Magie’s patent for $500 and gave her zero credit for the game’s invention. It took decades before the Monopoly narrative started including her.
Games have changed, but the dice are still loaded against women. At Scripbox, it is our hope, and aim to help change this. Thus, it gives us immense pride to share that over a thousand rupee-millionaires on our platform are women. We believe that owning your money goes a long way in owning your narrative, and this is a continuation of our efforts to help level the playing field.
Indices and benchmarks in February