There was a point where they where considering four options to survive: plunder, invest, beg, or trade. Trade worked in the authors version of the story. In my version they simply died more horrific deaths than they would have on there own.
Brace yourselves, there was a fifth option that the author negligently overlooked. However I will let those that read this to ponder what it may be, and no this is not a joke, there is an obvious 5th option. I'll give you two hints, its kind of like stealth plundering, and it is done on a daily basis around the world. Happy pondering!