Sep 232010

A few days ago I pulled a book that I had not read from our living room bookshelves: “The Great Wave : Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History” by David Hackett Fischer (1996).

Then I saw sticky notes in the first part of the book. Apparently I had once started to read it. But now, after re-reading the parts I had already read, I have to say that I remember nothing of it. The passages that were sticky-noted are relevant to my interests and don’t have much to do with the main thrust of the book.

How such an interesting book could have made absolutely no impression on me, I cannot explain. But it’s impressing me now.

One of the take-home lessons after reading the first part about the Medieval Price Revolution seems to be that periods of price revolution, i.e. price increase, are periods of growing inequality between rich and poor. So if that trend holds, it means the U.S. government’s recent stimulus programs will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

That doesn’t surprise me one bit. But I don’t know yet how to reconcile this information with what we have been told in history books about how populists tend to favor inflation because it allows poor debtors to pay off their rich creditors with debased money.