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Charting The Non-Linearity Of Hyperinflation, And Predicting America's Future Courtesy Of Ancient History

Tyler Durden's picture


A few weeks ago we presented a chart from SocGen's Dylan Grice, which promptly went viral, indicating the ongoing dilution in the Roman silver denarius over the span of two centuries. The comparisons to the purchasing power of the dollar since the inception of the Fed were missed by precisely nobody. Yet one thing that was missing was charting the corresponding reaction in price levels for a key prevailing staple commodity, namely wheat, which was to antiquity what oil is to the world today. Well, courtesy of Paul Mylchreest's latest must read Thunderroad report, prepare to be stunned by another "comparative" chart which does an admirable job at predicting the future courtesy of the past, and which is about to go viral all over again...

From the Thunder Road Report:

Let’s consider the run-up to Rome’s hyperinflation. I think this comment from “Good Money, Bad Money, and Runaway Inflation” resonates with what’s happening in the US today:

“Severus Alexander (AD 222-235) tried to reform by going back to the denarius but, once started, this path of runaway inflation and financial irresponsibility on the part of the imperial government proved impossible to control.”

It also seems that the hyperinflation was preceded by some kind of banking crisis, which is an interesting parallel. From “Demise and Fall of the Augustan Monetary System” by Koenraad Verboven:

“Papyri show it was common for private individuals to deposit money at a bank and to make and accept payments through bankers.Bankers in the west disappear from view around the middle of the 3rd c… A famous papyrus from Oxyrhynchus from 260 CE shows exchange bankers closing in order to avoid having to change the ‘imperial money’. The strategos ordered the exchange bankers to reopen and accept all genuine coins and warned businessmen to do the same. In 266 CE we find for the first time transactions being expressed in ‘ptolemaeic’ or ‘old silver’ as opposed to ‘new silver’.”

The chart shows how inflation remained relatively subdued until a tipping point was reached in the late- 260s A.D Monetary systems can absorb substantial abuse before there is a dramatic impact on the price level. For example, the debasement of the coinage was already accelerating in the early part of the third century A.D., before plunging in the latter part. Indeed, the chart below (apologies for the quality) only shows the trend up to 253 AD. By around 290 AD, the coins were only dipped in silver to give them a coating (<0.5%):

It is amusing that just like the Imperial decline of the Roman empire in the Common Era was matched by unprecedented fiscal profligacy, we have precisely the same thing now. As to what happens next...

“With few exceptions the Emperors of the third century pursued a policy of wasteful expenditure. Personal extravagance, donatives to the populace at Rome, costly civil and foreign wars, in which a pandering to the greed of the soldiery was a condition of success, had drained the wealth of the provinces…The conception of a national debt was as foreign to the Emperors of the third century as it had been to the statesmen of the Republic. Instead, to give an air of SUPERFICIAL PROSPERITY, resort had been had to a POLICY OF INFLATION (my emphasis).”

“The gold coinage lost all stability and regularity, while the debasement of the silver proceeded till Gallienus flooded the market with a worthless billon. The State had virtually declared itself bankrupt…In consequence PRICES SOARED TO AN ENORMOUS HEIGHT, trade was undermined and speculation flourished. Individual fortunes were lost, and in town and country alike the honest citizen was faced with untold hardships without any prospects of better days to come.”

I wanted to explore the extent and timing of Rome’s hyperinflation in quantitative terms and compare what happened then with what’s happening to prices today.

Inflation data during the Roman Empire is not exactly easy to come by, but there is a remarkably good proxy in my opinion, which is the price of Egyptian wheat. The source I used was the research paper “Another View on an Old Inflation: Environment and Policies in the Roman Empire up to Diocletian’s Price Edict” by the Centre of Planning and Economic Research in Athens. Relying heavily on a multitude of other sources, this paper contains a time series for wheat prices stretching from 18 B.C. to 301 A.D.

It’s important to explain why Egyptian wheat prices serve as a good proxy for inflation across the Roman Empire. In very succinct terms, it was probably best expressed by Lionel Casson in “The Role of the State in Rome’s Grain Trade”:

“Grain was to antiquity what oil is to the world today”

It’s worth making three more detailed observations with regard to the role of wheat in the Roman economy. Firstly, agriculture was overwhelmingly the dominant sector in the economy. Here is Paul Erdkamp from “The Grain Market in the Roman Empire – A Social, Political and Economic Study”:

“agriculture was by far the predominant sector within the economy, and in both the Roman world and early modern Europe, agriculture was dominated by the cultivation of grain…It is a commonplace that in antiquity about 80 per cent of the population were engaged in agriculture, leaving only 20 per cent for all other sectors of the economy.”

Secondly, the importance of wheat to both the agricultural sector and the economy of the Roman Empire as a whole. In “Price behaviour in the Roman Empire”, Peter Temin argued:

Wheat is a good index of inflation because its quality does not vary much over time and it forms a large part of ordinary diets.”

And this from Wikipedia:

“The staple crop grown was wheat, and bread was the mainstay of every Roman table.”

Thirdly, Egypt was at times the largest supplier of wheat to Rome, although other important regions included North Africa and Sicily. According to Wikpedia:

“Egypt was also important in providing wheat to Rome. Normally, shipments of Egyptian wheat may have amounted to 20 million modii or more annually. This number can be found in the Epitome de Caesaribus. Twenty million modii of wheat was enough for half or two thirds of Rome.”

Having established Egyptian wheat as the best proxy we have for price levels in the Roman Empire, the chart below shows the price from 18 B.C. to 301 A.D.:

The largely predictable conclusion:

The point I’m trying to emphasize is that the relationship between the debasement of the coinage and price levels is non-linear. A monetary system can be abused for a long period, but not indefinitely. A tipping point is reached when CONFIDENCE in the value of the currency collapses, leading to a surge in inflation – hyperinflation in this case.

The corollary with today’s financial system is that the quantity theory of money is not linear either. However, the abuses are piling up in obscene fashion and we are approaching the tipping point. Today the “path of runaway inflation and fiscal irresponsibility” incorporates all manner of abuses like trillion dollar deficits, bank bailouts, near zero interest rates and Q1, QE2…!

In the next chart, I overlaid the price level for the last 223 years, i.e. 1814-2010, over the price level in the Roman Empire in a way that gave me the best fit. Please note – the price level for the last 223 years uses data for Britain from 1788-1843 and from the US from 1844-2010 – hence the term “Anglo-US 1788-2010” in the chart below.

Pretty much says it all.

Full must read Paul Mylchreest report below:



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Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:15 | 1325418 Pepe
Pepe's picture

"The abuses are piling up in obscene fashion" Understatement

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:24 | 1325458 Michael Victory
Michael Victory's picture

Q. Where is the love?

A. In Chin and Indy.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:29 | 1325653 Manthong
Manthong's picture

"It is amusing that just like the Imperial decline of the Roman empire in the Common Era was matched by unprecedented fiscal profligacy"

It is also amusing to note that just after that, in the fourth century AD (Anno Domini for all you with education debased like the dollar) that the heathen Romans "came to Jesus".

Just sayin'.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:14 | 1326123 A.W.E.S.O.M.-O 4000
A.W.E.S.O.M.-O 4000's picture

I’m sick and tired of all of these comparisons to the Romans. What have the Romans ever done for us?


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:29 | 1326414 Manthong
Manthong's picture

LOL. But don’t forget Gladiators, fiddling while the city burns, toga Parties, orgies, vomitoria, as well as Roman Meal Bread and Circuses.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:14 | 1326324 JB
JB's picture

they didn't "come to Jesus." Constantine merely painted over the same pagan ancient Egyptian/Babylonian religion with Biblical characters. and continued to slaughter the REAL followers of Christ.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:27 | 1326403 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Well then, at least he put on a show. We don't even do that anymore.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:30 | 1326434 Anton LaVey
Anton LaVey's picture

The "real followers of Christ" never existed.

As soon as a religion -- any religion, really -- becomes "mainstream" and accepted by the powers-that-be, it ceases to become a source of peace and (limited) enlightnment and it becomes a tool of whatever faction is the top dog at the time.

This has been a pattern for all of history. "Christianity" today is nothing more than a very debased, twisted, and watered-down interpretation of the teaching of the radical Jewish rabbi of the 1st Century. You know the one -- he threw the money-changers out of the Temple of Jerusalem a few decades before said Temple was razed to the ground by the Roman legions.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 17:14 | 1326613 Remus
Remus's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 21:43 | 1327286 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Ya but I'm dying to become a preacher and offer hearsay after hearsay interpretation of the character of jeebus prist.

Because everybody knows the best way to understand something and get to the truth  is through hearsay.

Wed, 06/01/2011 - 11:30 | 1328865 Byronio
Byronio's picture

I caught that when reading the article but the days of BC and AD have disappeared, by design, nothing by chance.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:37 | 1325677 bankonzhongguo
bankonzhongguo's picture


That is a very cool posting. 

More insight than a 100 year's of GS BS.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:14 | 1325758 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Maybe I missed when someone posted this

A prominent, 74-year-old Egyptian former bank chairman, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, was arrested at New York's Pierre Hotel this morning in connection with an alleged sex assault Sunday on a 44-year-old room maid.

The attack allegedly took place when the woman delivered tissues he requested to his room.

The incident recalled allegations against another international finance official at a New York City hotel earlier this month. On May 14, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel claimed, former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in his Manhattan hotel suite. After that incident, New York state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) proposed a bill that would protect hotel workers from similar incidents by requiring a panic alert device for staff members who enter hotel rooms.

Strauss-Kahn is under house arrest in New York as his case proceeds.

Omar was arrested on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment.

Sources said that the executive was clad in pajamas when he answered the door to let the maid in. He then allegedly groped her breasts and tried to kiss her before she fled.

Sources gave ABC this account:

When the maid arrived, he asked her to leave the tissues on a table inside his room. Once she was in the room, he allegedly closed the door and locked it.

Egyptian Banker Arrested Watch Video 'Real Deal': Who Is DSK in 90 Seconds Watch Video Dominique Strauss-Kahn Visits Doctor Watch Video

Then, he allegedly grabbed her, kissed her, and fondled her breasts and buttocks. She fought him off and, according to sources, she told him she wasn't there for that. He then grabbed her again. This time, sources say, he rubbed up against her and she again resisted him. He then asked for her phone number. She gave him a false number, and he let her out of the room.

Although the alleged incident occurred on Sunday, the maid reportedly was told by hotel staff that she must report the incident to her direct supervisor, who was not on duty until Monday. This caused a delay in the incident being reported to the police.

"Experienced NYPD detectives found the complainant to be credible," said New York Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.

Browne promised "further details" upon Omar's arraignment, and additional comment when asked for more on the arrest or the alleged assault.

Omar now heads El-Mex Salines Co., a solar salt producer in Egypt. He had been chairman of the Bank of Alexandria, sources said.

In the last three years, at least 10 other hotel housekeepers say they have been attacked in the U.S., according to an Associated Press review of court documents and news reports.

Nannies, domestic housekeepers, and elderly caregivers also encounter difficulties on the job. A 2006 report from New York advocacy group Domestic Workers United found 33 percent of domestic workers reported verbal or physical abuse by their employers.

The Pierre, a luxury, 5-star hotel located at 5th Avenue and 61st Street adjacent to Central Park, released the following statement regarding Omar's arrest: "The Pierre's priority is the safety of our guests and staff. We take all complaints very seriously and investigate thoroughly. This incident has been formally reported to the New York Police Department and is under investigation. We will fully comply with the investigation as requested."

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:01 | 1326095 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

I must say, man and horse never gets old.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 19:22 | 1326977 Diogenes
Diogenes's picture

The 74 year old Omar was charged with assault with a dead weapon.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:16 | 1325422 redpill
redpill's picture

So instead of a Consumer Confidence Index, we need a Currency Confidence Index, tracked monthly, to indicate how people feel about their fiat currency. Preferably not run by the BLS.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:59 | 1325576 Whatta
Whatta's picture

That is a great idea. But who would could trusted to give us an accurate reading and, would it always be "unexpectedly" lower than anticipated with last month being revised downward?

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:20 | 1325630 tmosley
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We have that already.  It's called "the price of gold".

It's a pretty good indicator.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:22 | 1325789 magis00
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Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:27 | 1326007 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

Yes, the price of gold is a good indicator, because it floats against the currency. But suppose you linked it to the currency, by a set price. Would it still be a good indicator? No.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:37 | 1326041 tmosley
tmosley's picture

It is if gold is freely available at that price.

Even better if the currency itself is gold.  Or if the gold is held by private banks that are subjected to the most stringent regulations the free market can muster.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:42 | 1326052 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

The romans had your gold currency. They had bi-metallism. What happened? What always happens?

Free gold from currency. Let it float as store of value. Most people save little or nothing. They don't need or want hard currency. You will make their debts harder to pay back and they don't accept it. Never.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:02 | 1326096 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Uhhh...their civilization lasted for more than 2000 years and was the greatest ever known to mankind?  Then they started debasing and they were wiped out by the Turks?

Go talk to your grandparents if they lived through the great depression.  Ask them if they save money.

Honestly, can't ANYONE explain to me how Freegold will stop hyperinflation in the transactional currency?  Indeed, can anyone explain how it isn't ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED, as people do not save in terms of the transactional currency, where savings is the SOLE SOURCE of purchasing power?

I have asked this question a half a dozen times, and the only answer I can get is "trust the government--it's not in their interest to have hyperinflation".  This is a highly stupid idea, and is not historically accurate.  Governments want to spend.  Give them a printing press, and they will USE IT (surprise!).  Any monetary system that ignores this basic fact is cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:19 | 1326116 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

As simple as it gets:

You will understand when it arrives.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:28 | 1326159 tmosley
tmosley's picture

I understand it now, but there is no check against hyperinflation or abandonment of the transactional currency.

This means Freegold collapses to a gold standard of some sort, and fast.  Period.

People need to understand that there is nothing new under the sun.  Every currency system that can be tried, has been tried.  Metal standards, free from government influence are the most stable form of currency, and will lead quickly to prosperity.  The more government involvement you have, the lesser the degree of prosperity, until you wind up being forced down the road of fiat currencies straight to hyperinflation.  Freegold incorporates no new technology.  As such, it has been tried numerous times in the past, and has always failed, just like every fiat currency has failed within 60 years of adoption of full fully unbacked currency.  Indeed, those collapses must have been so fast, and so complete that they were never even recorded.

FOFOA is a smart cookie, but Freegold is BS.  Gold and silver (and platinum and palladium) are money.  Period.  Any attempt to divorce any portion of the role of money from said money will end in nothing but disaster.  You can't divorce them any more than you can divorce charge from a proton or electron, or mass from matter.  You just can't do it without a big boom of some sort, at the end of which, you will find things are back to the way they always were.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:38 | 1326184 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture



Great dialogue guys.

+ $1530

or will that be + $55,000?

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:06 | 1326250 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

I am no expert, but, it was my impression that Freegold is not a currency or monetary policy. It is more akin to an 'event' that normalizes gold to the paper debt central banks and governments have created over the last 100 years.  Subsequently, it paves the way for global gold standards, as Tm suggests.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:29 | 1326429 shortus cynicus
shortus cynicus's picture

Hyperinflation is also called as run away inflation. If people do not make savings in transaction money at all, so they have nothing to run away from. Any expansion of money quantity would be immediate visible as price increases giving prompt warning about government's policy.

In opposite case (current system), when transaction money is also used as saving money, any expansion of money quantity can easily vanish for longer period of time in savings accounts, including exchange reserves of foreign banks, then, during run away inflation, it come back into circulation all at the same time causing total lack of control.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 17:10 | 1326580 tmosley
tmosley's picture

So hyperinflation won't happen because it's already happening?  Come on.

Hyperinflation is caused by two things--printing of money, and by increasing the velocity of money.  The first is always present in practice, as governments always print money so they can get free stuff to bribe us with and to line their own pockets.  The second is caused by the very existence of the Freegold system, in that as soon as you get money, you run down to the money changer and buy gold with it, because you are afraid it won't be worth as much the next day.  Thing is, the money changer has to get rid of it too, because he also knows that he is losing purchasing power to the printers.  The result is an ever increasing amount of currency circulating ever faster and faster, and you have hyperinflation by DESIGN.  QED.

Now, rather than losing purchasing power by holding the transactional currency for any length of time (including the time it takes to get to the money changer), or trying to price goods in terms of hyperinflating fiat currency, people will realize that they hold gold, and others hold gold.  They realize they want gold, and everyone else wants gold (by definition in the Freegold system).  Thus, rather than supporting a class of money changers for no reason, they will simply trade goods and services for gold directly.  Hence, Freegold collapses into a form of gold standard.  QED.

This is a gold specie standard, and is the ABSOLUTE BEST monetary system ever used by mankind.  This can and has existed alongside a silver specie standard.  It can also exist alongside a platinum and/or palladium specie standard.  Hence the exceptionally long life of the Roman Empire (especially when you consider the shift from Rome to Constantinople).  Only the West, which overspent in an extreme manner saw economic collapse which lead to political collapse and conquest.  The East lasted another 1000+ years, until they too succumbed to government overspending.  Of course, if the people had not allowed their government to take charge of minting the coins, they never would have been debased, and we'd probably all be speaking Greek, flying around in spaceships and such.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 18:48 | 1326869 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

Nicely summarized, TM.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 17:04 | 1326557 Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

"Freegold is BS"  I also tend to mistrust the Freegold concept because it sounds like a "have our cake and eat it, too" scheme, and those always have a hidden flaw.

That said, I think it would be vastly preferable to the present regime because it would provide a ready currency for saving, which means the majority of people can give up the fruitless pursuit of yield for their savings to compensate for the fact that their dollars are constantly eroded by the central bank.

FOA says that Freegold will prevent the ruinous accruals of debt that destroy the transactional currency, though I couldn't find the specific limiting mechanism--need to read much more of his ideas. If true, that would preclude the "big boom" you mention that always leads to the crackup and collapse. It is the debt that is the problem, because without the parabolic growth of debt there is no need for the CB to inflate the money supply.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 17:08 | 1326588 tmosley
tmosley's picture

If he said that, then I really don't understand why he or his friend would still advocate it.  It's like saying nuclear war is fine and dandy as long as everyone owns a fallout shelter.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 23:41 | 1327559 Quaderratic Probing
Quaderratic Probing's picture

Hyper inflation and they did have gold and silver for money not paper...... no difference between the two in the end

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 19:09 | 1326933 Eternal Student
Eternal Student's picture

Sorry, but the statement "they started debasing and were wiped out by the Turks" is rather shallow and ignorant. The decline of both the halves of the Roman Empire is a lot more complex than this. The currency issue is certainly one part of it. But it is far, far from the only part. Or arguably even the most important part.

Even if you read the rather shallow and overly simplistic essay by Martin Armstrong, you might notice that the Western Empire had significant impacts from elsewhere. You won't get that from reading his essay. But the charts there point it out, and the issues are completely ignored, just to save the point he tries to make.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:25 | 1326395 Banjo
Banjo's picture

Internet Tough Guy: Gold is an excellent indicator when linked to currency. This is the whole reason Nixon closed the Gold window because the French decided they wanted to cash in the excess US dollars with "real physical gold"

The point is gold is always floating relative to currency, you can print money in the trillions you can't dig gold up in the same vast quantity.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:48 | 1325696 lawrence1
lawrence1's picture

Perhaps the percentage of people buying PMs, not just the gold or silver price.  Wonder if there is historical information about the percentage of people abandoning a currency it takes to trigger hyperinflation? 

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:18 | 1325770 Irwin Fletcher
Irwin Fletcher's picture

Which people? I bet the majority of US citizens do not know that the dollar is not backed by gold.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:25 | 1325788 Whatta
Whatta's picture

I don't use the dollar, I use MasterCard. I am safe, right? LOL...

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:39 | 1325847 Irwin Fletcher
Irwin Fletcher's picture

Is it a gold card?

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:17 | 1325425 Hard1
Hard1's picture

We are in the equivalent period of 270 AD

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:30 | 1325466 baby_BLYTHE
baby_BLYTHE's picture

We are all the End of the World

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:43 | 1325495 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Sure seems so doesn't it?  Of course I thought we were there under Jimmy Carter...

Yes, gold and commodities should be held by everyone.  As well as "preparations".

See my TEOTWAWKI article at my blog (as well as my Tinfoil Hat Brigade article too, for comic (?) relief).  Anyone interested send me a gmail promising you'll be nice, and I will direct you there.  100 ZH-ers already can view my blog at their leisure.  And how can 100 ZH-ers be wrong?



Martin Armstrong has covered this this history of Ancient Rome slowly sinking, then BANG!, hyperinflation.  Highly recommended, his knowledge of history and cycles is awesome.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:49 | 1325537 baby_BLYTHE
baby_BLYTHE's picture

got a link to that Armstrong piece? I have read him in the past on ZH, seems pretty credible

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:22 | 1325641 baby_BLYTHE
baby_BLYTHE's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:34 | 1325656 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

Jimmy Carter: Crisis of Confidence


 - well worth a listen.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:09 | 1325750 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture


A roar can be heard coming out of the Carter headquarters......we're number 2, we're number 2, we're number 2.

Things is lookin up for Jimmy.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:51 | 1325904 Bob
Bob's picture

+2  LOL.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:25 | 1325645 mr. mirbach
Tue, 05/31/2011 - 18:50 | 1326878 Rational Psycho
Rational Psycho's picture

What's your gmail address?

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:30 | 1325655 BobPaulson
BobPaulson's picture

That graph of wheat prices would make more sense on a log scale, especially the long flat first part. The apparent sudden jumps are just where the data were on the curve. In other words, in exponential growth, there is no magic kink in the graph, it just balloons at successively higher slope.

A very scary and interesting point on such curves is, like with the current population growth, when you _exceed_ exponential growth. That's when you know you're in for trouble.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:29 | 1325710 GoinFawr
GoinFawr's picture

That's 'trouble' with a capital 78 pt font 'T' on standard 8&1/2 by 11 hard copy.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:47 | 1326063 Blanc swan
Blanc swan's picture

Nope. The price in 18 BC is 170, in 270 AD it's 300, a 0.2% annual inflation rate over 3 centuries. Then, between 270 AD and 300 AD, the price multiplies by 50, a 15% annual inflation rate. The last of these 5 years have a 40% annual inflation rate.

Fri, 06/03/2011 - 09:55 | 1335695 BobPaulson
BobPaulson's picture

Perhaps you're confusing geometric growth with exponential growth.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:20 | 1325427 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

What happens if they debase the currency by half but real incomes and net worth slide by half? 

That's a potential scenario backed up by data from BLS and Case Schiller. 

In most inflationary spirals there's wage inflation. Not this time. And property values usually rise. Not this time. 


So does an inflationary depression follow the same economic pattern as hyperinflation? 

I would contend that the threshold for economic collapse is a lot lower and that astronomical price increases are not necessary to provoke it. 

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:40 | 1325505 Milestones
Milestones's picture

Very oerceiptive post-I think you may well be correct.     Milestones

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:49 | 1325534 Sean7k
Sean7k's picture

Interesting comment.  Real wages  and housing prices are falling and the currency is worth less and less, but imports and commodities are rising. Is the NET effect hyperinflation, just in different terms? 

Harder to recognize, but the same? 

Hyperinflation allows those with the means and opportunity to profit from the price of currency as it flows through the economy- is this any different? Are not the Elites getting wealthier and wealthier? While most people get poorer? 

Yet, it is harder to recognize, so hard, many people cannot decide on hyperinflation or deflation. 

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 22:22 | 1327380 Tedster
Tedster's picture

We can have spiraling prices, particularly imports, without wage increases, along with credit implosion and deflation in other goods. Basically we are being un-assed from the country, this time on a global scale. You've heard of say, Telluride, CO, right? Nice little sleepy mountain mining town. Then some developers show up with lots and lots of money, and turn it into a ski resort. The property values sky rocket, and the locals have to move, because they can't afford to live there anymore. Okay, not a great analogy, but that's what's being set up for everyone. It takes a while but it's sure to work, because so many can't see it or don't care, or are easily bought to play along. The plan is to deconstruct America and they are doing a bang up job of it.

Wed, 06/01/2011 - 00:06 | 1327581 PrintingPress
PrintingPress's picture

Hyperinflation and deflation are two different sports.   Hyperinflation is not extreme price movement as you may believe, it is a loss of confidence in a currency and its ability to be bartered for goods, service or anything we usually trade for notes.   People rush into currency in order to buy things they need for the crisis now being headlined in the papers.  Due to this flood of currency in the marketplace prices increase due to limited supply of goods and increased demand for goods.


The prices you watch are a symptom not the cause. 

Wed, 06/01/2011 - 03:12 | 1327739 Tedster
Tedster's picture

Right - the money becomes worth less, and finally worthless.

And it happens very quickly. My point is in the larger, broader sense, that the total and meticulously engineered removal (over generations) of the rule of law, property rights, human rights, sanctity of life, etc., and other federal assaults on our local and state intelligence are disenfranchising the citizenry. The government allows open borders and encourages a welfare state! This alone is beyond stupid.

One can argue that these kinds of things cannot happen except through a flawed monetary system. I'm not sure what people expected would happen, and can only conclude far too many have some kind of death wish, either personally or at some kind of societal level. Maybe some good will result from the storm, but I doubt it.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:18 | 1325621 razorthin
razorthin's picture

brilliant.  this is what i have been vaguely wondering about for quite some time and you articulated exceedingly well.  it appears price "movements" should be normalized for the median income.  would be very telling.  maybe we are already in hyperinflation in those terms.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:36 | 1325661 Madcow
Madcow's picture

What happens if they debase the currency by half but real incomes and net worth slide by half?

Great question - we will see.  That is exactly what is going to happen.  Its a poisonous cocktail - and the only approach they CAN take in response to a devastating deflationary collapse.  1/3 monetization & currency debasement, 1/3 default & abrogation, 1/3 government "intervention" to prevent a sudden stop.

All that will lead to higher (imported) commodity prices, lower wages, higher default rates, higher "unemployment" and lower tax revenues. Basically the opposite of the conditions that were in force from 1940-2008

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:02 | 1325938 B9K9
B9K9's picture

Basically the opposite of the conditions that were in force from 1940-2008

And now you know the reason for the open-borders policy. It is of critical importance to displace the current "native" population; that is, those who have living memories of what it used to be like back in the "good old days". With substitution of a huge new class of serfs conveniently imported from S of the border who really, really appreciate such advances as running water, the ruling elite will control all they survey with nary a whimper of opposition.

Fucking brilliant, really. Why no one gives them their due is beyond me. As for me, I'm officially on their side these days. I almost anticipate the coming culling times with relish.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:11 | 1325978 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Scary thoughts there, but I cannot find a way to disagree with your assessment.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:08 | 1326307 gmrpeabody
gmrpeabody's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:43 | 1326044 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

couldn't agree more. Still another ingredient for revolt 

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:13 | 1326130 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Right, but revolt against who?  What are the odds that we keep a united front to unveil the puppeteers?  Wouldn't it be vastly more likely in this situation that a charismatic leader blames our new inhabitants for all our ills, and that we fight them instead of the idiots (assholes) who developed the policy in the first place?  That the recently dominant ethnicities of the region give them the "you're not from around here" look (even though, strangely forgotten, they may actually be from here or close to).

Literally, we are going to have every distraction and ancillary issue in the world to deal with before correcting any structural problems...  as successful as this appears to be set up, it would seem difficult to deny the presence of controlled shaping.  At any rate, our juvenile and easily distracted minds will have to overcome one of the most difficult battles of all, focus.  Easier said than done...  especially when one spends the entirety of his waking hours attempting to stave off the effects of devalued currency and stagnant wages.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 18:27 | 1326810 Freddie
Freddie's picture


They are hoping by 2012 that the masses do not remember in 2008 and earlier that we had an avg of 5% unemployment with Bush.  Not the Bush was great but he was not a nightmare.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 21:47 | 1327010 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

The elites also need an underclass of scary brown people for other reasons:  They scare people into giving away their freedoms, they scare the producing class into supporting the system against collapse, they provide a convenient class war target to divide communities and distract from the real enemy, they fight the elites' wars in exchange for citizenship, they can be bribed for votes, and they will be part of the broad base of informants needed to narc on evil hoarders and price-control violators (in exchange for prinded money).  Parasites at all levels depend on each other.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:56 | 1325721 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I would then expect the inverse of the presented chart; hyper-DEflation. Still a run-away process but in the opposite direction.

Sounds uncommonly lethal to me.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:18 | 1325430 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:23 | 1325456 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Well obviously going back to a gold and silver standard won't do anything for us cuz Rome did it and it didn't work for them and history proves it!!


PS-I am Playing the StuPiDest Comment Game.


That was so fucking dumb on atleast two levels! LOL Try to beat won't be easy.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:09 | 1325599 Tortfeasor
Tortfeasor's picture

The gold standard didn't just "not work", it made things worse by educating the public on what a proper currency looks like.  Thus, hyperinflation occured because the brief gold standard ruined it for everyone.

Therefore, the proper solution is to never allow the public to become educated.  Education causes hyperinflation.  So the dumbing of America is "necessary and proper", and is thus the responsibility of the federal government under the "Good 'n Plenty" clause of the Constitution.

Do I win?

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:51 | 1325701 Bastiat
Bastiat's picture

That was actaully scary.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:51 | 1325883 destiny
destiny's picture

Scary true.  It's not just in the US, it's in the UE as well..

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:38 | 1326464 George the baby...
George the baby crusher's picture

And let's not forget EU.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:40 | 1326479 George the baby...
George the baby crusher's picture

And let's not forget EU.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:21 | 1325778 centerline
centerline's picture

And the "Orwell Award" goes to.....

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:37 | 1325840 rdenner
rdenner's picture

Holy Shit Tort, that was down right brilliant and deserving of an UNJUNK vote..... From the mouth of babes it seems :) .....


So what we SHOULD be watching for has absolutely nothing to do with ECONOMICS... We should be watching for people waking up and figuring out at what number things tip over... My guess is that at TEN PERCENT of the people currently involved IN the system, when they wake up(just 10 percent of those participating) things will collapse... We are very near that number right now...But if they can put more back to sleep than wake up, then they can keep it rolling over.. ABSENT something as stupid(in their opinion of course) as a movement to introduce a REAL currency like gold/silver.



Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:24 | 1326155 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

I want to hear more of this '"Good 'n Plenty" clause of the Constitution' - I might be entitled...


/sarc off

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 20:41 | 1327174 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Well played Tort,...well played...

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:31 | 1325638 Broder_Tuck
Broder_Tuck's picture

Gold will have no role because goldstandards don't work since what happened in the great depression blah blah blah...

Not relevant and incredibly stupid because:

Of course the amount of capital (together with the other productivity factors) must be somewhat flexible to the upside in a capitalist economy, and a stone age "locked" goldstandard is therefore useless. However gold will be the only focal point as FOFOA writes in the turbulent economic times ahead when all fiat-assets is losing credibility. The concept FREEGOLD is the only way that global capital flows can be settled and the value of different currencies can be regulated. Gold (FREEGOLD) will be just as important in the new paradigm as the old goldstandard will be irrelevant. With a leverage of 40 or 100 to 1... when gold breaks free it will be to late of you're not on board allready. Got Gold?


I just help myself to the price, thank you very much :)

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:51 | 1325905 destiny
destiny's picture

Gold will have no role because goldstandards don't work since what happened in the great depression blah blah blah..


Yep...and if Gold is so useless that it couldn't have a role why do central banks keep buying it ? Go fer Gold!

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:35 | 1325668 ibjamming
ibjamming's picture

Actually Rome was cheating...they used less and less PM in their coins...they diluted the wealth...monitized it.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 18:23 | 1326799 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Correct.  I think they kept shaving the coins so they had less and less PM content.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:51 | 1325702 ibjamming
ibjamming's picture

Actually Rome was cheating...they used less and less PM in their coins...they diluted the wealth...monitized it.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:04 | 1325593 Alexandre Stavisky
Alexandre Stavisky's picture

Plenty of signs and portents.  To give example:  When the lead of the JudenRat in the Warsaw Ghetto saw that his people were to be systematically liquidated and that he could do little more to preserve their lives, he committed suicide.  A fantastic, astounding act for those in captivity whose next stop on life's subway was cruel death.

In like manner, Shoichi Nakagawa.  Finance minister for Japan.  Outcome was clear to him. Demostrable despair for himself and the future of his countrymen.

Too much drink, unrecoverable hangover.  No more Ben HUR movies, just bend and hurl.

Look no further to predigt future.  Ancient history?  helpful.  But innumerable examples in very recent time are genug.

Usury and fraud, domestic enemies embedded have brought down a great global dynastic house.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:34 | 1325657 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

In like manner, Shoichi Nakagawa.  Finance minister for Japan.  Outcome was clear to him. Demostrable despair for himself and the future of his countrymen.

Too much drink, unrecoverable hangover.  No more Ben HUR movies, just bend and hurl. 


Story reads like a guy (and guy's family) living for power, losing it and being unable to overcome. Not like a guy who was concerned by overwhelming national issues.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:34 | 1325665 Boxed Merlot
Boxed Merlot's picture

16`Wo to you, blind guides, who are saying, Whoever may swear by the sanctuary, it is nothing, but whoever may swear by the gold of the sanctuary -- is debtor!

 17Fools and blind! for which [is] greater, the gold, or the sanctuary that is sanctifying the gold?'  - Jesus



Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:23 | 1325433 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

After whoring and warring, the grain trade is the world's oldest profession.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:20 | 1325436 MayIMommaDogFac...
MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

But, but -- that was before the Civil War...

The Bernank, commenting on the relative importance of Rome.  8)

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:03 | 1325595 Husk-Erzulie
Husk-Erzulie's picture

Ha ha, one of my favorite ever Bernankisms...classic.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:24 | 1325442 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

I am really hoping we are at 166 CE on the chart.

Percentage wise that was noticeable inflation for a while.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:24 | 1325443 slaughterer
slaughterer's picture

All hail to our Caesar Obama!

May the Holy US Empire decline in a hyper-inflationary catastrophe!

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:30 | 1325479 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. ...This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.
The Republic - Book VIII

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:47 | 1325515 augie
augie's picture

"When time has ceased to be anything other than velocity, instantaneousness and simultaneity, and time as history has vanished from the lives of all peoples; when a boxer is regarded as a nation's great man; when mass meetings attended by millions are looked on as triumph - then, yes then, through all this turmoil a question still haunts us like a spectre: what for? = whither? - and what then?"

Heidegger may have a point.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:38 | 1325669 LaughingMan
LaughingMan's picture

I liked Heidegger's "Being and Time", where did you get that quote from?


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:38 | 1325670 LaughingMan
LaughingMan's picture

I liked Heidegger's "Being and Time", where did you get that quote from?


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:48 | 1325692 augie
augie's picture

Its from his fundamental question of metaphysics. My brain is still recoiling from the mental effort necessary to get through that text. Worth it though.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:10 | 1325755 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Feldschlösschen hour was rained out in the second inning.  Rednecks and nihilist philosophers don't mix well and I struggle with Heidegger.  Perhaps I should actually become fluent in German and read the original, or else I am just screwed by reading Nietzsche first and seeing things differently.  I would argue that Germany in the 30's never overcame its nihilism, and look where it got them- but I am not sure that Heidegger would have gone there in 1935.  In the US, in this decade, when the mouthpiece of the oligarchs and the myriad voices of the opposition can be experienced simultaneously - I hold out hope for the future.  My grandfather's sister left her university studies in Berlin in 1933 and returned to States knowing full well there would be war and not thinking it would take so long- perhaps I should ask her if anything has actually changed in 78 years or is this really just one of those painfully slow circular repetitions of history.  

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:43 | 1325868 augie
augie's picture

I wish i was well enough informed to offer you a proper response on the subject, but all i have is an undergraduates understanding of one of his works. I've done enough research into his participation in the nazi uprising to piss of my professor, but beyond that I am pretty ignorant. I will say that i loathe nihilism in the same way i loathe apathy, but i have found neither in my limited understanding of heidegger's work. The man was by no means a saint, and his adultery and capitulation to the nazi's is unforgivable, but i believe his early questioning of the "dasein" to be motivated by truth, and the more truth i can cling to, the less affected i am by cacophony of competing ideologies you so perfectly illustrate as the simultaneously experienced "myriad voices."

I'd be interested to hear of your great aunts response. There is no substitute for experiential wisdom.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:34 | 1326178 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

I studied international business at university (majored in beer & bitches, minored in showing up for classes) what little I know of philosophy I picked up before, or after on my own time.  I think I'll send my great-aunt an email this weekend and get her thoughts. 

Germany definitely had some issues between the wars, oddly similar to some that the US has now.  Heidegger admits that National Socialism addressed many of the concerns he raised in his lectures and was in some respects a possible and viable solution at some time.  The issue of whether the Nazi solution could even be a correct or just solution, begs the question as to the possibility and consequences of US society making a similarly poor choice 80 years later.  What happens when the US Capitol (preferably when packed with worthless Senators and Representatives) burns or is bombed?  The executive empowered and emboldened by the mindless desires of millions of citizens is a formula for unmitigated disaster.  However, given the path chosen after 9/11, acceleration, not course correction, remains the most likely outcome.  The Patriot Act would be an impotent curtailment of civil liberties in comparison to a Reichstag Fire Decree or Enabling Act.  Ironically while the Reichstag was ceding control of liberty to Hitler, the US Congress was ceding control of liberty to FDR through the Gold Reserve Act.  How can US society have learned anything with a failed education system in 80 years if the highly educated children of the Federal Reserve Board still think that they can solve the ever repeating and enlarging crises of the past twenty years that follow credit bubbles bursting by shoving more bubblicious in their fat mouths?


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:21 | 1325444 augie
augie's picture

Everyday I read zerohedge. Everyday I learn.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:22 | 1325633 Scisco
Scisco's picture

As do I. I also read it for the lolz.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:01 | 1326265 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:26 | 1325453 tmosley
tmosley's picture

I did not know that Rome had hyperinflation, nor that detailed price records were available from that time.

The longer you study history, the more you realize that people never change.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:33 | 1325476 augie
augie's picture

I look at human nature like a warm shower. The water always seems to get colder the longer you remain in the shower, so you have to keep turning the temperature up to remain blissful. Not many people get out at the first sensation of temperature change, even fewer get out before that point is reached.

I now take cold showers.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:00 | 1326092 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

If that's true then perhaps you are ready for the next step in your spiritual evolution:

Abandon your car.

It is meaningless of course. But oh so necessary.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:21 | 1326141 augie
augie's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:36 | 1325496 Don Birnam
Don Birnam's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:18 | 1326373 gmrpeabody
gmrpeabody's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 17:07 | 1326568 shortus cynicus
shortus cynicus's picture

That men do not learn very much from the
lessons of history is the most important of all the
lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Huxley

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:24 | 1325461 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Phew. Every time I see these charts, I think of Al Gore and th ephony stuff. What if he had talked about this stuff? The charts would be the same, just different labels.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:53 | 1325497 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

great post. thanks Tyler

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:39 | 1325503 Segestan
Segestan's picture

This is an oxymoron. Rome did of course, like hundreds of societies of the past ages, use Gold and Silver, as well copper etc. . However, Roman expansion like many others, did not result in enough plunder, mines of Gold and silver being in use for an ever expanding population , higher social liabilities. Rome actually lost mines in during  foreign wars , like in Spain and other regions during it's forced contraction,  by inferior invading barbarian , mongol cultures. Sure they debased the currency but that was more a combination of poor leadership in the art of empire building, they had no experiance in such a gigantic undertaking. . For century upon century war was about plunder, gaining gold and mines, . As they gained all the former regions , wealthy powers under the Roman standard...... they simply ran out of money. There was no more richs in conquest. Besides, as they conquested they did not understand the future was doomed as they took the east, the east had lost it's original culture to mass immigration and conflict. Rome inherited the social virus of the east.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:44 | 1325518 oddjob
oddjob's picture

The virus was probably a result of sharing a rag on a stick to wipe their asses after they all finished shitting together.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:50 | 1325538 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Oh, nice. You point out away Romans wiped their ass. Can you tell me how the rest of the world wiped their ass?.. or did they at all ?. You're a perfect example.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:12 | 1325612 breezer1
breezer1's picture

for what its worth i saw a doc on the history channel saying that the romans died early because they shared cloths at the public toilets. yes, cloths used for ass wiping. just sayin...

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:16 | 1325618 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

In good times they shared a sponge on a stick.
Rags were for hard times.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:25 | 1325637 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Actually, they used a sponge on a stick.  As far as an easily sterilizable non-disposable ass-wiping method, that's a pretty good one.

And no, they didn't share them.

Also, it should be noted that you don't have nearly as much mess to clean up when you squat, rather than sit as we do now.

Further, the Romans were almost neurotic about keeping clean.  Most people bathed twice per day, even the poorest of the poor had access to free public baths.  Taking a bath after every shit was perfectly plausible.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:12 | 1325752 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture


Hey now if it isn't recreated in Spartacus Blood and Sand ( or Gods of the Arena) it didn't happen.


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:17 | 1325764 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Ha-HA!  You should have sprung for the DIRECTOR'S CUT!

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:43 | 1326202 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

The Mrs. calls it Smuticus.  I convey my dissapointment in her small appreciation of better art.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:02 | 1326270 tmosley
tmosley's picture

I think that was the name of the porno version.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:52 | 1325533 augie
augie's picture

forgive my obtuseness but how is "this" an oxymoron? I see no difference between the roman events you describe and the U.S. foreign/domestic policies currently being pursued.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:10 | 1325611 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Rome was just one former power. The Hellenic world,and Asia would be an equal example,  Asia-minor that is. Besides, the US does not expand it's territories into foreign lands, nor go to war for plunder and conquest, forcing others into taxation , or slave bondage. Rome was not unique , they were superior in many ways , but more so able to take advantage of a fragmented world , after Persia was defeated by Alexander ,   control was lost over a multitude , a poly glot horde. The east( Asia-Minor) was a molded multi-social construct after centuries of war and blood shed, , a very flamable and difficult to region to rule. Persia had the most advanced government in the world but was still an easy one to crush, once the upper class feel..

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:24 | 1325643 augie
augie's picture

I think i understand what you meant by oxymoron now. What would you say constitutes "plunder and conquest" and expansion of territiories? In my estimation America's free trade economic imperailism constitutes plunder and conquest, and mainting over 900 permenante millitary bases would be a mechanism for expanding and maintaining its influence which amounts to the same thing as territories circa 1215 A.D.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:38 | 1325680 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Well fiancial control... true; ... but that is hardly ...Roman. The US is apart of a global banking cabal, one that has in my view lost it's moral compas , it's social sail. There is of course no need for such influence other than control , banking and oil, but the world today is much more bigger than Romes world. Economic growth in a modern manufacturing and marketing system, 200 nations, after all this is the age of independence, not empires,  requires stability . With stability comes control. At least that is a goal, but the world has never been that simple, one not attainable in my view. Real -plunder- today, is not possible without the death of billions.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:27 | 1325777 augie
augie's picture

I read your posts often and respect your opinions, however i have to disagree with you here. Control is control whether it is exerted through roman legions during the time of our ancestors, or through financial leverage  today. Maybe i am painting with too broad a brush, but regardless of the degrees to which our circumstance are similar, the deeper i delve into history, the more similar our plight and the plight of our ancestors appear.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:26 | 1325800 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

no you're painting with truer colors and a broader spectrum

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:40 | 1325850 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Yes , but we don't ever learn.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:21 | 1326000 augie
augie's picture

That is a question of will my friend, not ability.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:29 | 1326021 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Yes,  on an individual ; but collectively as a human species, we never learn,the competitions of life won't allow it. Friend.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:39 | 1326180 augie
augie's picture

I can't wait for that belief to be proven a black swan. That will be the happiest day in my life. Of course i wont hold my breath lol.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:27 | 1326402 JR
JR's picture

I agree. The chief difference between the empire of the Romans and the empire of America was the generous administrative cooperation Rome extended to its conquered territories.  This contrasts markedly with the exploitation that US corporations and the US government use with the nations they “befriend.”  The US installs puppet rulers where possible and with little expenditure is able to remove vast natural resources at low costs utilizing cheap labor; and there’s no sharing with the foreign nations’ populations. 

The Roman Empire lasted from 800 BC to 500 AD because the conquered peoples not only shared in the Roman system of justice but in Rome’s economic prosperity as well.

Just look at what the US could have achieved if it had played straight, using principles of liberty and sharing those with governments, instead of igorning those principles and supporting tyrants who exploit their peoples. Instead of establishing markets for our products we've established oligarchs and terrorism.  

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 23:10 | 1327503 akak
akak's picture

Actually, the Roman Empire, properly defined, began only in the third or fourth decade BC --- before that, there were almost 500 years of the Republic, and over two centuries of the Roman Kingdom before that.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:26 | 1325646 augie
augie's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:36 | 1325671 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

 forcing others into taxation


The US does that through the USD. Ancient Rome could not do that because gold can be melted and molded into new currency.

Fiat is good as it allows to tax anyone using the currency through inflation.

The US citizen nature is eternal.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:52 | 1325703 Segestan
Segestan's picture

For centuries, monetary debasement was considered a tool of social deconstruct a means of evil over good.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:16 | 1325763 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

The difference with Rome is that melting gold allowed escaping from roman money.

A luxury non US citizens do not have since the US has been coercing commodities sellers in using the USD.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:38 | 1325831 Segestan
Segestan's picture

That is true, but that is a sign of weakness not control. China alone uses 50% of all global resources, they are buying commodities not just for speculation , they are the prime users. The problems with US policy are from a point of weakness not conquest.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:24 | 1325793 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:23 | 1325791 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

"Besides, the US does not expand it's territories into foreign lands, nor go to war for plunder and conquest."

yes, they use different words 

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:03 | 1325942 destiny
destiny's picture

Besides, the US does not expand it's territories into foreign lands, nor go to war for plunder and conquest, forcing others into taxation , or slave bondage...

Oh nooo ?  you gotta be kidding there...look again at the news.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 15:48 | 1326224 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

If your snark is true, then exactly where are all of the plundered spices, slaves and wines?  Where are the exotic wild beasts to be sent to the arena for my pleasure?

Last time I checked, we were taking tax monies and paying shithole countries for the priviledge of having to haul our shit all the way over to them just so we could shoot the piss out of the place.  All so they could dye their wipin their ass with their hands fingers blue.

Maybe we could teach them that rag on a stick trick, and call it a win-win.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 19:22 | 1326972 Eternal Student
Eternal Student's picture

Rome never crushed Persia. I take it you're not aware that what is arguably the greatest defeat of Rome was by Persia. And that they were at war for centuries, until Eastern Rome figured out how to make silk, and no longer needed the Silk Road. After that, it was pretty much a stalemate.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:00 | 1325581 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

For another eye opener, try looking into Athenian silver mines & the history of Greece.


Just how severely the cutoff of mining hurt the Athenian war effort during the Peloponnesian War can be seen from the consequences: silvered bronze coins replaced silver ones, Athens was unable to stop the Spartans from deploying a competitive fleet, and the once-quick rebounds from defeats became slow, agonizing crawls. We can see here one negative side of Athens' reliance on the silver from its mines. Tribute from the empire probably still amounted to much more money than the mines produced, but the marginal effects of losing the reliable, unrestricted mine revenues were harsh.

And from a wider point of view: when a state is prosperous there is nothing which people so much desire as silver. The men want money to expend on beautiful armour and fine horses, and houses, and sumptuous paraphenalia47 of all sorts. The women betake themselves to expensive apparel and ornaments of gold. Or when states are sick,48 either through barrenness of corn and other fruits, or through war, the demand for current coin is even more imperative (whilst the ground lies unproductive), to pay for necessaries or military aid.

And if it be asserted that gold is after all just as useful as silver, without gainsaying the proposition I may note this fact49 about gold, that, with a sudden influx of this metal, it is the gold itself which is depreciated whilst causing at the same time a rise in the value of silver.



The benefits of a classical education do exist.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:48 | 1325693 Ben Fleeced
Ben Fleeced's picture

Noblesse oblige is what our current regime lacks.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 12:54 | 1325715 sherryw
sherryw's picture


Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:42 | 1325504 Monedas
Monedas's picture

Everything in Rome was in an inflationary upward spiral ! Strangely, Lion "Chow" futures remained steady ? Monedas 2011

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