The Value of Money

The value of currency hasn’t been stable recently – or possibly ever. 

It isn’t a lot different from Roman times

“Roman emperor Nero began debasing Roman currency around 60 AD by reducing its silver content from 100% to 90%. Over the next 150 years, the silver content was reduced to 50%. By 265 AD, the silver content was down to 5%. 

When a currency is debased, and therefore loses value, sooner or later the citizenry catches on and begins demanding higher prices for the goods they sell or more wages for their work, resulting in inflation. In the case of the Roman Empire, the debasement produced annual inflation of around 1,000%.” 

Cointalk provides this chart, that shows how in times of old, you could create inflation just by adding lead to the silver when you were making coins: 

“During what is called the ‘Crisis of the Third Century’ some 200 years later, Rome experienced a period of hyperinflation, as the silver content in their currency was lowered even further. This was a time where Roman faced great economic problems, invasions and civil unrest. As a result, trade broke down and landowners could no longer export their crops or import manufactured goods. They became largely self sufficient, and food was grown for subsistence and bartering. 

Government revenue was extremely low, but government spending was not. During this time, governments had additional incentive to wall-in cities, and increase the size and power of their armies to combat the invasions and civil unrest. As a result, the silver content of coins had to be reduced further to accommodate the additional spending, fueling inflation. 

The situation was not helped by the fact that in just a period of 50 years, there were at least twenty-six Soldier-Emperors, who would ruthlessly assassinate the previous emperors in order to seize power, and would then need the budget to meet the demands of buying off loyalty from their soldiers. Before 300 CE, the purity had already dropped to as low as 2% silver.”  

The table below came from the article linked and cited above, and was written in 2015.  You can look at the prices you see today – like coffee and gasoline – and extrapolate the recent years for yourself. 

I’m a demographer, not an economist or a politician.  Still, it seems like printing more money and reducing its buying power doesn’t create a lot of benefit to folks who don’t belong to the kleptocracy. 

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