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The Economic Crisis of 1619 to 1623

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2009

Charles P. Kindleberger
The author is Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.


Various states in the Holy Roman Empire prepared for the Thirty Years' War by creating new mints and debasing the subsidiary coinage. The process spread through Gresham's Law: bad money was taken by debasing states to their neighbors and exchanged for good. The neighbor typically defended itself by debasing its own coin. The resulting hyperinflation was terminated early in the war by an agreement to return to the Imperial Augsburg Ordinance of 1559. The Kipper- und Wipperzeit, as the period is called, illuminates the geographic spread of financial crises, German hypennflations of this century, and current proposals for “free banking.”

Copyright © The Economic History Association 1991

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