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John Suburbs

Is Littlefinger Getting Bankrolled?

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So he goes to Gulltown and immediately ups the income to House Arryn, then goes to KL and does the same thing for the crown. The thing is, unless he was instrumental in increasing the actual trade coming and going from those ports, which would not happen instantly, then all that money had to come from somewhere. The two ways to do this are either more aggressive enforcement of customs and taxes, or, as mentioned in the book, LF himself becoming involved in the buying and selling of commodities. Either way, this results in someone, and probably many someones, not making as much money as they were before LF arrived, since they are either handing over a higher percentage of income to the government or they are not getting the normal price for their goods as LF buys low, causes a shortage, and then sells at the higher price himself. This could only serve to depress trade as word gets around that KL is not a great place to do business, which would lead to all sorts of complaints from local merchants and craftsmen and would in fact make LF one of the most hated figures in the government.

All the while, of course, the crown's debts are mounting, which would not be necessary if LF was making all this money wringing customs from traders and profiting on his own market manipulation.

So is it possible, then, that LF's ability to rub two coins together to get three is actually that he is being bankrolled by someone, perhaps a rich trader from across the narrow sea who is actively trying to topple the Baratheon regime to put his own puppet ruler in place? And wouldn't this explain this odd little exchange:

Quote

"The knight of Flowers writes Highgarden, urging his lord father to send his sister to court. The girl is a maid of fourteen, sweet and beautiful and tractable, and Lord Renly and Ser Loras intend that Robert should bed her, wed her, and make a new queen. Littlefinger … the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing.  Yet Lord Stark's the one who troubles my sleep. He has the bastard, he has the book, and soon enough he'll have the truth. And now his wife has abducted Tyrion Lannister, thanks to Littlefinger's meddling. Lord Tywin will take that for an outrage, and Jaime has a queer affection for the Imp. If the Lannisters move north, that will bring the Tullys in as well"

So both Varys and Illyrio can see that LF is meddling in their plans in a major way, that he is the one bringing about the war faster than they want and is in a position to do great harm to the crown's finances, but neither of them, and Illyrio in particular, seem overly interested in learning "what game Littlefinger is playing", even though it is Varys' job to learn everybody's secrets, as he does with Renly and Loras. Might that mean that Illyrio already knows what our little MoC is up to?

 

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He is the bankroller.  His rise from minor nobility was always limited by relatively low birth. He amassed great wealth, but could never truly exploit it. Now, as the lord of Harrenhal and protector of the vale, he has the status necessary to become a true player.  

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I always assumed he was the rich person. Since he invested in brothels and not ships (like most people would, assuming). People with higher nobility or pedigree let's say, wouldn't dare invest in a brothel. He wasn't restricted by that, so he could invest in lucrative businesses. 

I wouldn't be surprised if he personally loaned some money to the crown and when it got money back to pay its debts he paid himself back immediately first, with interest of course. 

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3 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

So both Varys and Illyrio can see that LF is meddling in their plans in a major way, that he is the one bringing about the war faster than they want and is in a position to do great harm to the crown's finances, but neither of them, and Illyrio in particular, seem overly interested in learning "what game Littlefinger is playing", even though it is Varys' job to learn everybody's secrets, as he does with Renly and Loras. Might that mean that Illyrio already knows what our little MoC is up to?

 

It seems that Littlefinger is the one guy we know of who knows about Varys little birds and he seems to keep his plans pretty close to his vest so it would have been hard for Varys to figure out what he was up to .  It would also be hard to believe that Littlefinger would be working for or with Illyrio and Varys not know about it . 

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2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

He is the bankroller.  His rise from minor nobility was always limited by relatively low birth. He amassed great wealth, but could never truly exploit it. Now, as the lord of Harrenhal and protector of the vale, he has the status necessary to become a true player.  

 

1 hour ago, btfu806 said:

I always assumed he was the rich person. Since he invested in brothels and not ships (like most people would, assuming). People with higher nobility or pedigree let's say, wouldn't dare invest in a brothel. He wasn't restricted by that, so he could invest in lucrative businesses. 

I wouldn't be surprised if he personally loaned some money to the crown and when it got money back to pay its debts he paid himself back immediately first, with interest of course. 

So the whole bit about the meager holdings of House Baelish is a lie? He started in Gulltown and was immediately able to increase revenues, what, 10-fold? largely out of his own pocket, then went on to do the same in King's Landing -- already the wealthiest, busiest port in the kingdom? Where did all this personal wealth come from, and how is it that nobody knows about it?

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28 minutes ago, Blackfish Tully said:

It seems that Littlefinger is the one guy we know of who knows about Varys little birds and he seems to keep his plans pretty close to his vest so it would have been hard for Varys to figure out what he was up to .  It would also be hard to believe that Littlefinger would be working for or with Illyrio and Varys not know about it . 

I think others know of Varys' little birds. Tyrion certainly, and Cersei. The common phrase is that in the Red Keep even the walls have ears. Varys is the Master of Whispers, so it is well known that he has informants everywhere, although they might not realize they are children.

Plus, it's not just that Varys does not know about Baelish's plans, but that neither he nor Illyrio seem to be all that concerned about this despite them both acknowledging that Littlefinger is doing more than anyone else to gum up their plans. I would think it should be a top priority for both of them to find out what LF is up to, no? And unless Varys has little birds skulking around Illyrio's manse in Pentos, I think it would be quite easy for LF and Illyrio to keep Varys in the dark.

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4 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

Might that mean that Illyrio already knows what our little MoC is up to?

No, because that goes against the whole point of the discussion, that it's something they're concerned about and which is an unknown factor.

The speculation in the OP about Littlefinger's customs methods is going into too much detail, I expect.  GRRM isn't an economist.  We're to understand that Littlefinger is very smart and was able to increase revenues through some combination of effectiveness, self-dealing, and, once he'd climbed to a certain point, outright fraud.

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22 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

 

So the whole bit about the meager holdings of House Baelish is a lie? He started in Gulltown and was immediately able to increase revenues, what, 10-fold? largely out of his own pocket, then went on to do the same in King's Landing -- already the wealthiest, busiest port in the kingdom? Where did all this personal wealth come from, and how is it that nobody knows about it?

Well in Gulltown he just did customs or something? Right? So a position that he excelled at and then his dad died, giving him Baelish Tower in the fingers so his son was now a lord. So now he has some status. So then Jon Arryn brought in little finger to be master of coin. At this point, he doesn't necessarily have, or need, a ton of wealth/coin. You can argue that he did some shady stuff on the side to make himself rich while master of coin. Used that money to invest in brothels, and made even more money. 

If I remember correctly LF would take out huge loans in the crown's name and controlled where that money went, I am sure he could fudge things on paper and make himself richer.

In ACOK Tyrion makes a comment that LF would sell official positions or gave them favors or something.

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3 minutes ago, btfu806 said:

Well in Gulltown he just did customs or something? Right? So a position that he excelled at and then his dad died, giving him Baelish Tower in the fingers so his son was now a lord. So now he has some status. So then Jon Arryn brought in little finger to be master of coin. At this point, he doesn't necessarily have, or need, a ton of wealth/coin. You can argue that he did some shady stuff on the side to make himself rich while master of coin. Used that money to invest in brothels, and made even more money. 

If I remember correctly LF would take out huge loans in the crown's name and controlled where that money went, I am sure he could fudge things on paper and make himself richer.

In ACOK Tyrion makes a comment that LF would sell official positions or gave them favors or something.

Pretty much this although I'm completely convinced he was embezzling, and doing so in large amounts. The crown couldn't get into so much debt given so much income even paying Roberts excessive tournament prizes. It went somewhere.

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32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

 

So the whole bit about the meager holdings of House Baelish is a lie? He started in Gulltown and was immediately able to increase revenues, what, 10-fold? largely out of his own pocket, then went on to do the same in King's Landing -- already the wealthiest, busiest port in the kingdom? Where did all this personal wealth come from, and how is it that nobody knows about it?

Not  out of his own pocket just increased them...we literaly see how meagre his begginings are in sansas pov

No he replaces largely incompetent low level nobles with  commoners who merit their role not get it by birth(of course that means they are forever indebted to lf too) etc ..men who can handle accounts and will trouble with all the 'coin counting' that someone of high birth would be bored/un interested in doing right!

When it was noticed how hed boosted gulltowns revenues jon arryn brought him to kl partly on his wifes henpecking him and partly as he couldnt control roberts excessive spending!

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7 minutes ago, Makk said:

Pretty much this although I'm completely convinced he was embezzling, and doing so in large amounts. The crown couldn't get into so much debt given so much income even paying Roberts excessive tournament prizes. It went somewhere.

I dont feel thats all ofit though..im.sure every hand and tax offical embezzles at some level

Roberts tourneys may have been extravagant and often but we must also remember the rebellion costs still had to be paid and the greyjoy one (naval wars are always hugely costly)

Id mix in roberts need to be loved and his fear of his positions stability...he may have been forgiving debts owed to the crown and lowering/ending taxes left right and centre!!

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1 minute ago, hodorisfaclessman said:

I dont feel thats all ofit though..im.sure every hand and tax offical embezzles at some level

Roberts tourneys may have been extravagant and often but we must also remember the rebellion costs still had to be paid and the greyjoy one (naval wars are always hugely costly)

Id mix in roberts need to be loved and his fear of his positions stability...he may have been forgiving debts owed to the crown and lowering/ending taxes left right and centre!!

I got the impression that Westeros did not have a professional army. The Goldcloaks are paid but for war the king or lord calls their banners and they  are paid by plunder. Is there any evidence about Robert forgiving significant debts? I don't doubt he spent a lot and spent excessively. But for the relative shortness of his reign, and the financial position they were in before and at the end, the (relatively) superb economic conditions throughout, something doesn't add up.

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27 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

 

So the whole bit about the meager holdings of House Baelish is a lie? He started in Gulltown and was immediately able to increase revenues, what, 10-fold? largely out of his own pocket, then went on to do the same in King's Landing -- already the wealthiest, busiest port in the kingdom? Where did all this personal wealth come from, and how is it that nobody knows about it?

holdings are not coin, and from all outward appearances, his house is as minor as they come, but in KL as in gulltown, he possesses businesses like whorehouses, which are a great way to hide coin pilfered from royal coffers, not to mention keeping tabs on important people. 

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5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

 The two ways to do this are either more aggressive enforcement of customs and taxes, or, as mentioned in the book, LF himself becoming involved in the buying and selling of commodities. Either way, this results in someone, and probably many someones, not making as much money as they were before LF arrived, since they are either handing over a higher percentage of income to the government or they are not getting the normal price for their goods as LF buys low, causes a shortage, and then sells at the higher price himself. This could only serve to depress trade as word gets around that KL is not a great place to do business, which would lead to all sorts of complaints from local merchants and craftsmen and would in fact make LF one of the most hated figures in the government.

There are more ways to increase revenue. 
1: efficiency at the docks. hiring more workers, getting rid of or buying out any mafia that controls the docks, Improving infrastructure or otherwise  streamlining the moving of goods from boat to city. No losers there. 
2: Information. He is on the small council and has whorehouses and bars. He can hear info from ship captains about conditions in the free cities, ships that may have sank or the state of pirates. He also has a good idea about the state of the 7k.  With the right info LF can predict shortages and price accordingly, and with the crown's coffers as ballast, he can afford to buy on margins large enough to get a good deal no matter what the current price is. 
3:  good old intuition. He is a smart guy. 

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5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

The two ways to do this are either more aggressive enforcement of customs and taxes, or, as mentioned in the book, LF himself becoming involved in the buying and selling of commodities. Either way, this results in someone, and probably many someones, not making as much money as they were before LF arrived, since they are either handing over a higher percentage of income to the government or they are not getting the normal price for their goods as LF buys low, causes a shortage, and then sells at the higher price himself.

Or he's aggressively cutting customs and taxes. If you've got twenty different petty lords along a road or river, and each of them demanding 25% of whatever passes through their lands, that's going to hurt the business of the port at the start of that road/river, and it's not going to result in great income for the petty lords either, because traders aren't going to want to go down those roads. It's entirely possible he got Aryn to standardize tariffs, increasing the popularity of the port because it's now at the mouth of a much more profitable trade route.

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6 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

So the whole bit about the meager holdings of House Baelish is a lie? He started in Gulltown and was immediately able to increase revenues, what, 10-fold? largely out of his own pocket, then went on to do the same in King's Landing -- already the wealthiest, busiest port in the kingdom? Where did all this personal wealth come from, and how is it that nobody knows about it?

I believe House Baelish has connections in the slave trade, and Petyr was able to cut costs in Gulltown by utilizing slave labor. We also have to remember Lysa has access to plenty of wealth and he had control over her. Now in King's Landing he continues to replace more expensive workers with slave labor, as he does in his brothels. My theory is Littlefinger, Doran Martel, and Volantis have some sort of agreement involving the slave trade.

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Considering there are a number of years basically after the dual with Brandon Stark till the time Lysa gets him a job at Gulltown I have always wondered if he spent any time in Braavos. I have suspected he might have gotten some training from the Iron Bank if not working for them in some manner.

I don't think where the money comes from is important is the skill set that he has obviously acquired from somewhere. None of the Tully's he was raised with seem to be great with money and his own father was a lowly landed knight again making him an unlikely source of these skills.

As others have stated Baelish had plenty of time to acquire wealth through his brothels and trade deals and probably illegal deals but where did he gain the knowledge? Maybe Baelish keep had a really good Maester but I doubt it. Maybe he spent a few years in the Citadel but we never hear about that.

 

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28 minutes ago, Lord Wraith said:

Considering there are a number of years basically after the dual with Brandon Stark till the time Lysa gets him a job at Gulltown I have always wondered if he spent any time in Braavos. I have suspected he might have gotten some training from the Iron Bank if not working for them in some manner.

I don't think where the money comes from is important is the skill set that he has obviously acquired from somewhere. None of the Tully's he was raised with seem to be great with money and his own father was a lowly landed knight again making him an unlikely source of these skills.

As others have stated Baelish had plenty of time to acquire wealth through his brothels and trade deals and probably illegal deals but where did he gain the knowledge? Maybe Baelish keep had a really good Maester but I doubt it. Maybe he spent a few years in the Citadel but we never hear about that.

 

I'm thinking along these lines too.

It would make sense to me for Hoster Tully to pay for training at the IB because of his friendship with LF’s father and it also gets LF far from Westeros to keep him from causing more trouble. It’s more believable to me that LF had some training at the IB over believing alone in his shining brilliance given Westeros shows a distinct lack of anyone of LF’s class reaching such lofty heights. And as you say, we have no account of young LF showing any particular skill or interest in finance.

My crackpot idea of how it all started goes back to his obsession with Catelyn. Ned showed up with a bastard and in reborn hope, LF needed the opportunity to pursue info on Ned’s mistress(es) and bastard(s) to try to get near Catelyn again via blackmail, causing a rift between Ned and Cat and manipulating Cat like Lysa, whatever. Young LF didn’t have the resources to track Ned’s movements (like following Lyanna whom Ned would be searching for). To get those resources, it makes sense to me that LF requested the IB training, the Gulltown position and the move to KL perhaps with help from a manipulated Lysa. But LF found out the truth or at least enough of it and realized the info was useless to win Catelyn, and in bitterness, turned the resources, contacts and education to more sinister goals.

Completely unbelievable to me that LF never capitalized on Ned’s mistress(es) and bastard(s) given his level of obsession 15 years later and Catelyn is the only believable goal that I can attribute to young LF with any certainty.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Makk said:

I got the impression that Westeros did not have a professional army. The Goldcloaks are paid but for war the king or lord calls their banners and they  are paid by plunder. Is there any evidence about Robert forgiving significant debts? I don't doubt he spent a lot and spent excessively. But for the relative shortness of his reign, and the financial position they were in before and at the end, the (relatively) superb economic conditions throughout, something doesn't add up.

Again its all speculation we just have what we know of robert and the fact the tourneys  and lf skimming cant have done iit all

It doesnt have a pro army no but he probably paid any costs borne from feeding forces and for the greyjoys the royal navy was deployed

 We have no evidence robert forgave debt or lowered taxes to be liked and help bring stability with his lords etc hut it does seem likely given what we know of him and would help explain a good part of the enormous debts

Edited by hodorisfaclessman

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