A report published today by the Middle-Earth Economic Forecasting Bureau shows that the economy of Rhovanion shrank for a third consecutive quarter, threatening to pull the whole economy of Middle-Earth into recession. The economic weakness in Rhovanion follows upheaval throughout the region in the wake of the sudden ouster and death of Smaug the Dragon in Esgaroth late last year.
The North Rhovanion Constabulary Force is continuing its investigation into Smaug’s death. All that is known is that Smaug was shot by a lone bowman as he arrived in Esgaroth by air to consult with local leaders over a growing wave of anti-dragon sentiment.
The economic turbulence immediately following Smaug’s death has been somewhat better documented at this point. Smaug’s mid-flight demise caused him to crash land on top of the town of Esgaroth, causing damage estimated at 9,435 gold pieces. The town’s insurance firms have filed a claim against Smaug’s estate for that amount plus 5,000 for pain and suffering on the part of the residents. Smaug’s demise also precipitated an orc invasion, requiring military involvement from the Dwarves of the Iron Hills and the Elves of Mirkwood to repel. Both groups have submitted claims against Smaug’s estate to recoup the costs of the intervention.
Further complicating matters, a party of dwarves from the Blue Mountains have petitioned the court for ownership of Smaug’s estate, the bulk of which is represented by the Lonely Mountain and its contents. The claim is based on the dwarves’ previous ownership of the estate and assertions that Smaug obtained the estate through dubious circumstances.
“The words of these dwarves stand on their heads,” said Ozaun, Smaug’s younger brother and next-of-kin. “Their claims that Smaug somehow forced his way into ownership of the property are ridiculous. The Dwarves of Erebor were in a state of financial ruin. Their very successful extraction of gold and other valuables from the Mountain had caused runaway inflation in prices of commodities like food–particularly and especially food–as well as a significant uptick in criminal activity. Smaug bought the place out of bankruptcy, reduced the local gold circulation, and through careful estate management has made the place a going proposition once again. So naturally the dwarves want it back now.”
The extent of Smaug’s economic involvement in the economy of Rhovanion has been a lesson slowly and painfully learned over the last six months. “Naturally Smaug was extremely interested in the economic well-being of the district,” said Karbomonauksyde, Smaug’s nephew and erstwhile property manager. “It’s hard to grow your own wealth if all the lands around are economically stagnant. Do you think dragons grow their hoard by piling it up in a great hall and sitting on it? Of course not; it has to be invested.”
Much of that investment turned out to be in civic and infrastructure projects, especially in and around Esgaroth. Projects undertaken by his corporate presence, Dino-Might LLC., included the extension of the pilings on the south side of the city to make room for three more city blocks, the western bridge, and the Great Marketplace.
Dino-Might LLC also provided start-up financing for a number of small businesses, including Forrester’s Blacksmith Shop of West Esgaroth, Iron Hills Savings and Loan, and the North-Lake Pony Farm and Supply Company.
“I don’t think most people quite realized just what place he had in things,” said a spokesman for the government of New Esgaroth. “He was a major financial partner. Of course if he caught you mishandling his money he’d eat you alive–so to speak–but he certainly had a claw in a lot that went on around here. It might be too much to say he had a heart of gold; but he was, in his way, golden.”
Most market-watchers report confidence that a quick solution to the investigation and legal actions could prompt the beginnings of an economic recovery.
Meanwhile, markets were buoyed somewhat on news that redevelopment plans for the long-dilapidated Barad-dûr district in northern Mordor could move forward. The plans had been held up by disagreements on the requirements for volcano insurance.
Copyright 2014–to the extent that fan fiction can be copyrighted. Smaug, Middle-Earth, Rhovanion, Esgaroth, and all other entities appearing in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” are of course properties of the Tolkien estate. Usage of these entities is deemed to comply with relevant Fair Use provisions.