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By Stephen Pederson

Economic Collapses a Modern Issue? – Nope, They’re as Old as Civilization

If You Think 2008 was Bad, You Haven’t Been Paying Attention

For most of us, memory is short.  It is hard to remember last week, little less last year or last decade.  But if we were so so inclined our current economic malaise may not seem as catastrophic or heart rendering as it has seemed to be.  Market crash?  No big deal.  Fiscal Cliff?  Meh.  With the help of perspective, it is all starting to seem like “been there, done that“.

Coins and Market Newspages

Photo – Jayne Sawyer: MorgueFile

At Listverse, there is an interesting article on the top 10 financial crises in history.  If you are wondering about how bad they had it before, think of 4th century Rome:

With Rome’s currency worthless, Roman Emperor Diocletian introduced a new system of coinage. At many times in history countries have risked economic turmoil to artificially increase the value of their currency. The issue with Diocletian’s new money, however, was that it did the opposite. There was more gold in the coins than the face value stamped on them; the denomination on the coin lowered its value. In response to this insane idea most citizens melted the coins to make use of their higher scrap value. The result was rapid inflation within the Empire. Diocletian increased problems by placing a price ceiling on most goods to counter the inflation.

Diocletian’s policies caused so much confusion that many Roman territories simply refused to follow the emperor’s edicts. As matters worsened, Diocletian became the first Roman emperor to voluntarily leave the throne. His highly flawed economic policies weakened the cohesion of the empire and the status of emperor in addition to further damaging Rome’s ailing economy.

If that is too far back, why not look to Spain in the 1600′s:

Following Columbus’s discovery of the New World, Spain began the search for gold in the New World. For decades the rich resources of the Americas made Spain one of the wealthiest nations on earth and allowed it to create a great empire. By the second half of the sixteenth century, however, the Spanish had increased mining to unprecedented levels. Rather counter intuitively this influx of wealth nearly destroyed Spain. The high levels of freshly minted gold and silver in Europe drove down the value of money and lead to hyper-inflation across Europe.

If you are starting to see the big picture, read the remainder of the article at to see about eight more historic economic catastrophes.

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