Home » Posts tagged 'rome'

Tag Archives: rome

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

How long will the US dollar’s dominance last?

301 AD was a big year for the Roman Empire.

That was the year that, amid spiraling inflation, Emperor Diocletian issued his Edict on Maximum Prices, essentially fixing prices of just about everything across the Roman Empire.

The price of wheat, a day labor’s wages, a quart of olive oil, transportation rates– everything was established by the Emperor’s edict, and enforced under penalty of death.

Diocletian’s edict infamously didn’t work, and the empire plunged into even more severe inflation.

The other big event of 301 AD was the introduction of the solidus gold coin, roughly 4.5 grams of nearly pure gold.

And while the Romans had a history of debasing their other coins, like the silver denarius and sesterce, the government actually did a pretty good job maintaining the value and purity of the gold solidus.

Even hundreds of years later, after the western empire in Rome had fallen to the barbarians, and imperial power was concentrated in Byzantium, the gold solidus was still approximately as pure as it was in the early 300s.

That’s an extraordinary track record for currency stability. Confidence in the gold solidus was so high, in fact, that various tribes and kingdoms around the world used the coin for trade and savings.

This became a source of pride for the Byzantine Empire; Justinian I, who ruled in the mid 500s, stated that the solidus was “accepted everywhere from end to end of the Earth,” and that it was “admired by all men in all kingdoms, because no kingdom has a currency that can be compared to it.”

It wasn’t until the mid 11th century, more than seven centuries after the introduction of the solidus, that an Emperor began to debase the currency.

Just like Hemingway described going bankrupt, the debasement of the solidus was gradual… then sudden.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The American infrastructure, ancient Rome and ‘Limits to Growth’

The American infrastructure, ancient Rome and ‘Limits to Growth’

Infrastructure is the talk of the town in Washington, D.C. where I now live and with good reason. The infrastructure upon which the livelihoods and lives of all Americans depends is in sorry shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers 2021 infrastructure report card gives the United States an overall grade of C minus.

Everyone in Washington, yes, everyone, believes some sort of major investment needs to be made in our transportation, water, and sewer systems which have been sorely neglected. There are other concerns as well about our energy infrastructure and our communications infrastructure—both of which are largely in private hands. The wrangling over how much will be spent and on what is likely to go on for months.

What won’t be talked about is that the cost of maintaining our infrastructure is rising for one key reason: There’s more it every day. We keep expanding all these systems so that when they degrade and require maintenance and replacement, the cost keeps growing.

There is a lesson on this from ancient Rome. Few modern people understand that the Romans financed their expansion and government operations using the booty taken from vanquished territories. That worked until it didn’t. When Rome reached its maximum expanse, when it no longer conquered new territories, the booty stopped coming. With the borders of Rome the longest the empire had ever had to defend, it now relied primarily on taxes to finance a large army and administrative presence across the empire in order to maintain control.
Our modern-day version of booty has been cheap energy, much of it supplied by the oil, natural gas and coal fields of America and later its uranium mines…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The American infrastructure, ancient Rome and ‘Limits to Growth’

The American infrastructure, ancient Rome and ‘Limits to Growth’

Infrastructure is the talk of the town in Washington, D.C. where I now live and with good reason. The infrastructure upon which the livelihoods and lives of all Americans depends is in sorry shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers 2021 infrastructure report card gives the United States an overall grade of C minus.

Everyone in Washington, yes, everyone, believes some sort of major investment needs to be made in our transportation, water, and sewer systems which have been sorely neglected. There are other concerns as well about our energy infrastructure and our communications infrastructure—both of which are largely in private hands. The wrangling over how much will be spent and on what is likely to go on for months.

What won’t be talked about is that the cost of maintaining our infrastructure is rising for one key reason: There’s more it every day. We keep expanding all these systems so that when they degrade and require maintenance and replacement, the cost keeps growing.

There is a lesson on this from ancient Rome. Few modern people understand that the Romans financed their expansion and government operations using the booty taken from vanquished territories. That worked until it didn’t. When Rome reached its maximum expanse, when it no longer conquered new territories, the booty stopped coming. With the borders of Rome the longest the empire had ever had to defend, it now relied primarily on taxes to finance a large army and administrative presence across the empire in order to maintain control.

Our modern-day version of booty has been cheap energy, much of it supplied by the oil, natural gas and coal fields of America and later its uranium mines…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Riots in Rome of Tyrannical Lockdowns

We have confirmation from readers in Rome that there has been a protest in Piazza Montecitorio which began as a sit-in protest by restaurateurs and other categories were taking place today on the emergency closures for Covid. The peaceful protest has degenerated into a clash between protestors and police forces who assaulted the people launching various types of bombs and objects. The protestors were yelling at the police who would obviously just follow orders as did the Nazis in Germany calling them “buffoons” and “freedom” and the protestors turned on the ruthless police breaking through the barriers and the police turned violent.

NEVER in 6,000 years has any government tried to lockdown its people because of a claimed virus. The death rates are no different between states that locked down and those that remained open in the United States. This is a political agenda coming from the World Economic Forum. In the meantime, we have Spirt Airlines going tyrannical kicking off the plane a family because a two-year old does not have a mask. When ALL the studies show that even masks do not work, yet we have been subjected to outright tyranny on such a scale.

rome, riots, protests, martin armstrong, armstrong economics, lockdowns, tyranny, wef, world economic forum, covid

Revealing History

COMMENT: I find it interesting how two people the general consensus has said were scoundrels, John Law and Julius Caesar, you have shown were actually people against the establishment. I read your Anatomy of a Debt Crisis and you have put together the contemporary historians where everyone else just seems to rely on the fake news of the day.

Thank you for digging up the facts.

HY

REPLY: When I was in high school, I had to read Galbraith’s “Great Crash.” Nowhere in his book did he ever mention defaults on national debts by any country. When I came across Herbert Hoover’s memoirs in an old book store in London, this was probably the second thing that changed my life, with the first being the movie  “The Toast of New York” about the Panic of 1869 when gold hit $162.50, which I had to watch in history class. I learned not to trust the history books, and the best way to find out the truth was always to return to the contemporary reports of history and/or the newspapers of the time.

The coinage has been a major factor in identifying the history and accurately dating events. Here is an extremely rare coin of Julius Caesar. Note that there is no portrait of him. He is announcing his victory in Gaul. His Gallic campaign was initially a piecemeal affair, but within six years, he had expanded Roman rule over the whole of Gaul. Following years of relative success, mainly thanks to the disconnected nature of the tribes allowing him to take them on separately (divide and conquer), Caesar was faced with the chief of the Arverni tribe, Vercingetorix, who too late had built a confederation to stand against Caesar. In 52 BC, despite formidable resistance, Caesar finally defeated Vercingetorix at the Battle (or Siege) of Alesia…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

martin armstrong, armstrong economics, history, julius ceasar, rome, roman empire, war, conquest, coinage, fake news,

Has Our Luck Finally Run Out?

Has Our Luck Finally Run Out?

We are woefully unprepared for a long run of bad luck.

Long-term cycles escape our notice because they play out over many years or even decades; few noticed the decreasing rainfall in the Mediterranean region in 150 A.D. but this gradual decline in rainfall slowly but surely reduced the grain harvests of the Roman Empire, which coupled with rising populations resulted in a reduced caloric intake for many people.

This weakened their immune systems in subtle ways, leaving them more vulnerable to the Antonine Plague of 165 AD.

The decline of temperatures in Northern Europe in the early 1300s led to “years without summer” and failed grain harvests which reduced the caloric intake of most people, leaving them weakened and more vulnerable to the Black Plague which swept Europe in 1347.

I’ve mentioned the book The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire a number of times as a source for understanding the impact of natural cycles on human civilization.

It’s important to note that the natural cycles and pandemics of 200 AD didn’t just cripple the Roman Empire; this same era saw the collapse of the mighty Parthian Empire of Persia, the kingdoms of India and the Han Dynasty in China.

In addition to natural cycles, there are human socio-economic cycles of debt and decay of civic values and the social contract: a proliferation of parasitic elites, a weakening of state finances and a decline in the purchasing power of wages/labor.

The rising dependence on debt and its eventual collapse is a cycle noted by Kondratieff and others, and Peter Turchin listed these three dynamics as the key drivers of decisive discord of the kind that brings down empires and nations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 10, 2020 – The World Shifts

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 10, 2020 – The World Shifts

“Carthago delenda est”

Did you feel the world wobble last night?  

As Washington imposes sanctions on top level Chinese officals over ethnic abuse in Xinjiang, and waits for Trump to sign “autonomy” action over Hong Kong targeting officials over the new security law, we are now even closer to the inevitable showdown between Rome and Carthage. The implications are going to be enormous… This story is accelerating very quickly… thing are “occurring” faster than we think…

My spidey senses are a-tingle.. 

Trying to fathom out why markets are so strong, ongoing coronavirus and economic breakdowns, how politics are so ineffective, and how fragile and vulnerable sentiment might be to sudden and swift shifts in the narrative, is somewhat exhausting. While the markets are focused on the earnings season (beginning Monday), the ongoing supply chain problems -like car factories being shuttered because they can’t get parts, and the likelihood of further stimulus.. the news out of Asia makes me suspect the real world has just become massively less stable.

At the tactical level, the outbreak of cold-war hostilities and the threat of sanctions on banks in Hong Kong is yet another nail in the decaying corpse of HSBC.  If the former colony is de-dollarised, and banks are stopped from clearing the greenback, it will trigger enormous shifts across Asia. It will raise the prospect of a complete rift between the US and China as banks are forced to make a choice: they can’t serve two masters.. the dollar or Beijing.

At the strategic level.. who knows.. Plus for Europe? After the coronavirus.. a full scale Cold War? Or maybe its going to be a good thing.. a wedge between China and the West driving new innovation and economic growth? Who knows… more on this later… 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eight Phases of Crisis: COVID-19 Edition

Eight Phases of Crisis: COVID-19 Edition

“You had a dishwasher box to sleep in?  I didn’t even know sleep.  It was pretty much twenty-four seven ball gags, brownie mix and clown porn.” – Deadpool

One girl I dated in High School asked if she used too much makeup.  I replied, “Dunno, depends on if you are trying to kill Batman®”

“Great, now it’s the end of the world and we can’t get a new dishwasher,” The Mrs. actually said, after I finally relented that it would probably cost more to fix the dodgy old dishwasher than a new one would cost.  Plus, the old dishwasher is stainless steel, so if it were a hundred yards away, it would make quite a nice practice target.  I call that a win-win.  Besides, Amazon® actually has them in stock, so I could theoretically have one by next week.

See?  You can get quality appliances during the end of the world.

I started working from home yesterday, which was nice.  When it was lunchtime, I wasn’t hungry, but I was nice and warm so I took a nap right in my home office which is also known as the couch.  Good times.  I do have a concern – The Mrs. slapped my heinie as I walked by and said, “nice butt” so I’m thinking of bringing this up with HR.  I want to be treated as more than a sexual object.  I mean, not much more, but more.

As much as you might be interested in my derrière, I really do want to talk about COVID-19 and get to the bottom of how the issue will progress in the coming months.  While each crisis is different, they are all sort-of-predictable because in the end, people don’t change all that much, even though circumstances do.  Certainly we want to get this all behind us, in the rear view, so to speak.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

1177 BC – The Collapse of Society System-Wide

1177 BC – The Collapse of Society System-Wide 

QUESTION: I do not believe you have ever commented on Eric Cline’s book 1177BC, the year civilization collapsed. Do you think this is likely what we face or is this different?

WL

ANSWER: There were about eight civilizations that all collapsed with the exception of Egypt post-1250 BC. It was caused by a major shift in climate that led to droughts which resulted in the widespread famine that inspired migrations/invasions. This event of 1177BC was the Bronze Age equivalent to the fall of Rome, for they both were followed by a Dark Age.

Many have attributed this collapse of the Bronze Age to the Sea Peoples, which were most likely northern Mediterranean mass migrants due to the climate getting colder in Europe. Cline has put together a nice assembly of sources, but he missed the climate change. He assumed there was a migration southward. However, we can see the first dip to cold came about 1,800 years ago. We can see that the all-time high temperature was about 3,300 years ago.

The collapse of the Bronze Age was mostly complete by about 1100-1000 BC. Our computer has identified a 1720-year cycle beginning in the Dark Ages with the fall of Rome in 476 AD when the last pretend Emperor reigned (Romulus Augustus (575-476AD)). Our model highlighted the cycle between the Dark Ages of 1720 years which brings us to 1244 BC — right on target for the beginning of the collapse of civilization.

How Civilization Collapses
1) Collapse in centralized government
2) The rich flee and economic growth declines
3) The economy implodes without investment
4) Birth rates decline with population
5) People migrate and abandon urbanization

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Following in Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality

Following in Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality

Here is the moral decay of America’s ruling elites boiled down to a single word.

There are many reasons why Imperial Rome declined, but two primary causes that get relatively little attention are moral decay and soaring wealth inequality. The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of the ruling Elites degrade, what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too.

I’ve previously covered two other key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline: complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what I have termed a failure of imagination.

Michael Grant described these causes of decline in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.

This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.

This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.

A lengthier book by Adrian Goldsworthy How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower addresses the same issues from a slightly different perspective.

Glenn Stehle, commenting on a thread in the excellent website peakoilbarrel.com (operated by the estimable Ron Patterson) made a number of excellent points that I am taking the liberty of excerpting: (with thanks to correspondent Paul S.)

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Destroy a Civilization

How to Destroy a Civilization

There are lots of ways to kill off a civilization. Wars, politics, economic collapse. But what are the actual mechanics? It might be a useful thing to know whether or not we are killing ourselves off.

Ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had an advanced civilization. They had running water, sewers, flush toilets, concrete, roads, bridges, dams, an international highway system, mechanical reapers, water-powered mills, public baths, soap, banking, commerce, free trade, a legal code, a court system, science, literature, and a republican system of government. And a strong army to enforce stability and peace (Pax Romana). It wasn’t perfect, but they were on their way to modernity.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE):

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

If that isn’t a mark of a civilized society I don’t know what is.

But Rome collapsed. I often wonder what would have happened if it hadn’t. Could we have avoided a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Could we have been flying airplanes and driving cars in the year 1000?

What the hell happened to Rome?

Dictators. After 500 years, the famous Roman Republic ended with the dictator Julius Caesar taking power. Four hundred years later his progeny and usurpers ran the Empire into the ground and Rome fell to invading barbarians.

The standard explanation for Rome’s decline and fall is that they devolved into dictatorships (true, but not the cause of their fall). Or they became decadent and corrupt (true, but not the cause of their fall). They fell to barbarian invasions (true, but not the cause of their fall).

Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dying Days Of An Empire

The Dying Days Of An Empire

Caravaggio Conversion on the way to Damascus 1600-01

Something’s been nagging me for the past few days, and I’m not sure I’ve figured out why yet. It started when Donald Trump first called off the alleged planned strikes on targets in Iran because they would have cost 150 lives, and then the next day said the US would do sanctions instead. As they did on Monday, even directly targeting Trump’s equal, the “Supreme Leader Khameini”.

When Trump announced the sanctions, I thought: wait a minute, by presenting this the way you did, you effectively turned economic sanctions into a military tool: we chose not to do bombs but sanctions. Sounds the same as not doing a naval invasion but going for air attacks instead. The kind of decisions that were made in Vietnam a thousand times.

However, Vietnam was all out war (well, invasion is a better term). Which shamed the US, killed and maimed the sweet Lord only knows how many promising young Americans as well as millions of Vietnamese, and ended in humiliating defeat. But the US is not in an all out war in Iran, at least not yet. And if they would ever try to be, the outcome would be Vietnam squared.

Still, that’s not really my point here. It’s simply about the use of having the world reserve currency as a military weapon instead of an economic one. And I think that is highly significant. As well as an enormous threat to the US. The issue at hand is overreach.

While you could still argue that economic sanctions on North Korea, Venezuela and Russia are just that, economic and/or political ones, the way Trump phrased it, comparing sanctions one on one with military strikes, no longer leaves that opening when it comes to Iran.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Lessons of Rome: Our Neofeudal Oligarchy

The Lessons of Rome: Our Neofeudal Oligarchy

Our society has a legal structure of self-rule and ownership of capital, but in reality it is a Neofeudal Oligarchy.

The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000 is not an easy, breezy read; its length and detail are daunting.

The effort is well worth it, as the book helps us understand how the power structures of societies change over time in ways that may be largely invisible to those living through the changes.

The Inheritance of Rome focuses on the lasting influence of Rome’s centralized social and political structures even as centralized economic power and trade routes dissolved.

This legacy of centralized power and loyalty to a central authority manifested 324 years after the end of the Western Roman Empire circa 476 A.D. in Charlemagne, who united much of western Europe as the head of the Holy Roman Empire. (Recall that the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire endured another 1,000 years until 1453 A.D.)

But thereafter, the social and political strands tying far-flung villages and fiefdoms to a central authority frayed and were replaced by a decentralized feudalism in which peasants were largely stripped of the right to own land and became the chattel of independent nobles.

In this disintegrative phase, the central authority invested in the monarchy of kings and queens was weak to non-existent.In the long sweep of history, it took several hundred years beyond 1000 A.D. for central authority to re-assert itself in the form of monarchy, and several hundred additional years for the rights of commoners to be established.

Indeed, it can be argued that it was not until the 1600s and 1700s–and only in the northern European strongholds of commoners’ rights, The Netherlands and England–that the rights of ownership and political influence enjoyed by commoners in the Roman Empire were matched.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We’re Still Making Diocletian’s Mistakes

We’re Still Making Diocletian’s Mistakes

Some of the most telling moments in history are when we look back and see people in a vastly different world behaving exactly as people do today. From 286 to 305 Diocletian, one of Rome’s most powerful and consequential emperors, tried to fix the political and economic systems which he inherited and were teetering on the brink of collapse. In doing so, he made mistakes remarkably similar to those made by people in government today.

The world Diocletian inherited was staggering out of the Crisis of the Third Century, a 50-year period that saw 26 claimants to the imperial robes, most of whom seemed guided by nothing more than personal greed and ambition. Relatively speaking, Diocletian brought stability and good intentions to the Roman state and helped it persist for another 150 years.

But virtually all of Diocletian’s individual reforms sought a stronger imperial state that exploded in both bureaucracy and godlike pageantry in an attempt to engineer prosperity from the top down. The astonishing part is that after more than 1,700 years, after the development of economics as a field of study, and under the auspices of liberal democracy, governments today proceed with largely the same instincts.

Is Four Greater Than One?

The man who would become known as Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus was born in present-day Croatia in the year 244. He first came to power as many emperors did, with an army under his command proclaiming him as such, and ultimately defeating other military rivals.

Diocletian realized that his vast empire was too large and complex to be ruled by a single man. This insight about the limits of top-down control may have been forward-thinking, but his solution shows how deeply important the elites of his time viewed a strong centralized state. By 293, Diocletian had fully formed the tetrarchy, where two junior and two senior emperors bound by a set of marriages would each rule a quarter of the empire.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Tide In The Affairs Of Men

A Tide In The Affairs Of Men

Leonardo da Vinci First anatomical studies c1515 

Sometimes we find ourselves merely pondering, not so much solving big problems. Is there playing out, in the world at large, or at least the world of men, something akin to the Kondratieff cycle in economics, a larger cycle, a force, a tide, an energy, that we mostly ignore, but which drives our ‘affairs’? Dr. D. thinks there may well be. But if so, what happens to free will?

Dr. D.:

Dr. D.: I seem to have taken a dark and grumpy turn lately.  Probably the winter, but as I get older, I find the present state of the world more and more frustrating.

I fear with the present madness it’s just de rigor to 1) label people as something they’re not, even the OPPOSITE of what they are, 2) furiously fight that strawman and 3) not care.  I have no explanation for it, but there are times and tides in the affairs of men (as Shakespeare would say) which flood you out and cost a fortune.  …Or something like that.

And it’s certainly flooding in Europe right now, as darkness falls as the shutters of censorship and totalitarianism are bolted up everywhere, every bit as clear and methodical as was done in 1935, even with a call for a shiny new army.  …To use on no one, of course, because we all know broke nations fund and create armies for no ill intent whatsoever.  But these things happen regularly.

“If…any person had told me that there would have been such [chaos] as [now] exists, I would have thought them a bedlamite, a fit subject for a madhouse.” 
– George Washington, 1786 (after a fiat money blowoff in the states)

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase