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“There is a great deal of ruin in a nation” - Adam Smith, 1777
Recently there has been a noticeable uptick of “Roman Empire” scuttlebutt on the socials, which wouldn’t be all that interesting except for the fact that in this instance, it appears as though there is a significant effort being made to somehow associate the act of “thinking” about the “Roman Empire” with manhood and men’s supposed preoccupation with concern for the unwind of the United States.
A comical example was from “Eva Vlaardingerbroek” who wrote:
There is some “Freudian thing” happening here for sure and I, for one, believe that her father was being far more honest… that being said, in a world awash in fanciful narratives, and in particular, narratives concerning impending hyper-inflationary financial doom for the United States, one shouldn't get too carried away.
It's important to remember that hyperinflation is not simply “lots of inflation” coming as a result of the mismanagement of purely monetary factors, but instead a far more fundamental and total loss of confidence in the institutions of the state and the financial system.
While hyperinflation typically arises from a combination of familiar calamities such as severe economic crises, political instability, and loss of confidence in currency as a result of excessive money printing to finance large budget deficits or in response to external shocks like war or other exogenous events, the scale of such numerous ruinations and the credibility of the nation in question make all the difference.
There is no doubt that the United States will ultimately visit such a condition eventually, particularly given the lowly course we have chosen to chart these last many decades, but the real question, as perennially posed, is when?
While our historical understanding of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” provides a lot of information to work with when drawing superficial parallels to today’s seemingly endless political theater and economic dramas, it is noteworthy to consider that this is not a new exercise in our public discourse.
A cursory dive into the newspaper archive yields a couple of interesting articles (reprinted here in their entirety from The Minneapolis Representative on July 12, 1893) detailing the monetary concerns of that time: