I just came across a paper on an old bout of hyperinflation — the “Kipper- und Wipperzeit” financial crisis in 17th century Germany — worth studying, considering that today’s smart money is on the radical debasement of today’s already-undermined dollar.
The Kipper- und Wipperzeit hyperinflation started out as a government program to bilk the people of wealth, but got out of hand. It became a free-for-all.
Back before credit money and fiat money, governments made special deals with miners and minters and the like, to coin money to spec. Those insiders put less metal into the coins than before, but called the coins the same. Debasement, pure and simple: Theft — fraud, to be exact.
It helped make a few major fortunes, fund some wars and the like.
But apparently moneylenders caught on, and began “clipping” the coins. Minters employed subcontractors to look for better-quality coins in circulation, paying for them in clipped coins. Soon everyone was clipping coins, and then culling them (hence the term “Kipper- und Wipperzeit” — “clipping and culling time”) to hoard the highest-value coins (with the most metal) and pawn off into the general circulation the lowest-value coins (with the least). Gresham’s Law in action led to spiraling prices and the breakdown of trade.
A great example of calculated, “clever” government policy spilling into the general population, leading first to rampant moral corruption and then ruin.
Something to remember, as clever folks contemplate “monetizing” today’s sovereign debt.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.