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James Bond, Pound Sterling and French Gastronomy

Posted November 5, 2021, 3:00 pmUpdated November 5, 2021, 3:51 pm

Even the best of Her Majesty’s Secret Agents are not immune to currency risk. In a sobering study by the NBER, entitled “Eating License” (1), the misalignment of the pound sterling influenced the lifestyle of James Bond, both an international globetrotter and a great lover of French gastronomy.

In the year In the forty James Bond novels written by Ian Fleming or his successors since the 1950s, Agent 007 eats 500 meals in 500 restaurants, two-thirds of which still exist. Almost one in four is located in France (Grand Vefour, Lucas Carton, Ostau de Baumannier, Rotonde, Galleon, etc.). He drinks champagne (Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot) and fine wine (Chat Lynch-Badges, Chateau Batalli, Mouton Rothschild). In the year By analyzing the prices of these top restaurants (menu and à la carte) and 007’s favorite bottles between 1953 and 2019, the researchers analyzed the impact of the pound sterling on food costs.


Result: From 1953 to 2019, the evolution of the pound sterling has been less favorable for James Bond and British travellers. “Overall, the British currency has benefited against the franc,” the study said. However, they were heavily penalized by the fall after the arrival of the euro,” the study said. Within a decade (1950-1960), the pound jumped 40% against the franc, allowing 007 to dine cheaply at the best French tables.

Only, the volatility of the English currency has changed in one of the servants of the kingdom. Between 2000 and 2019, the euro appreciated by 50% against the pound sterling. With high French restaurant prices exceeding 007’s salary, a portion of his emoluments has been spent on savoring the burgeoning French gastronomy. Eating out at a large French restaurant at least once a week cost him 18% of his salary in the 1950s, then 26% in the early 2000s.

52,000 euros salary

From Casino Royale (a novel published in 1953), James Bond breaks away from the Michelin guide to find the best restaurants. He received an annual salary of £1,500, more than three times the British average at the time. This is equivalent to a salary of £44,000 (€52,000) today. “Today, dining in a three-star French restaurant seems to be reserved for hedge fund managers, but that wasn’t the case in 007’s early 1950s, when à la carte meals cost the equivalent of £1 or £2,” he said.

(1) “Food Permit: 007 and the Real Exchange Rate”, Lee A. Craig, Julian Treme, Thomas J. Weiss, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 29415

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