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Harry Potter and the Financial Inconsistency?

May 15, 2011

I can’t take full credit for this train of thought. Richard raised the question.

If James and Lily Potter were killed by Voldemort when Harry was a baby… James and Lily were barely in their twenties.

Where’d they get all the money that wound up in Gringott’s Bank Vault when Harry first got there?

Now… I have pretty low expectations of Rowling’s handle on plot holes. (I still think the horcrux thing wasn’t set up well enough to justify itself.) But, once I started thinking about it, I started coming up with all kinds of theories.

  • Potters are a dynastic wizarding family, wealthy along Malfoy lines. It would have to be Potters, as Lily Evans was a Mudblood. This comes up in Harry Potter and The Unedited Roadtrip of Doom… Known to some as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • In between finishing their schooling, battling Voldemort and co, and starting a family, Lily and James did some really, really smart investing. What do wizards invest in? This is a plausible scenario, though there would be a time crunch.
  • Scholarship fund and/or sympathy fund set up by other wizards for Harry’s upkeep. But there would be less of a sense of it being “his” wealth to spend, more about it being a tribute, or a trust in his name that he couldn’t touch. Like a war chest.
  • Another somewhat plausible scenario- Gringotts has unimaginably good interest rates. Harry had no idea Gringotts existed til he was 11. So that’s over a decade of the money sitting there, possibly compound interest. So– slightly well off Potters + untouched finances could account for it.

What I’m pretty sure happened is that JKR either didn’t think it through, or wanted to set up a little fairy tale boost to get Harry started on his extraordinary path. Sort of a Cinderella angle.

Still, made an interesting train of thought on a Sunday afternoon.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bellatrixed permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:08 pm

    I’ve always assumed the potters came from Malfoy esque lines, particularly since they come from the oldest wizarding village in Britain, have the cloak of invisibility, and interacted with what was clearly the upper echelon of the British Wizarding world.

  2. terri permalink
    May 15, 2011 1:25 pm

    Now that you pose the question, the Potters as Old Money sort of rings true. Isn’t James Potter described in flashbacks as a cool kid with a dickish streak, always breezily athletic and effortlessly popular? Dressed in whatever the wizard equivalent of torn Abercrombie chinos, Dave Matthews tshirt and flipflops is? He wears his wizard hat on backwards, after carefully running over it in his wizard Beemer a few times? Probably has a pukka shell necklace he got from that summer in the Hamptons (Does the Floo Network GO to the Hamptons, or do you still have to get on the jitney?)

    Maybe I have this confused with Gossip Girl.

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