Fiat Money Inflation in France By Andrew Dickson White


Conventional histories of the French Revolution ignore the economic conditions under the monarchy. In Fiat Money Inflation in France Andrew Dickson White puts the monetary story at the center of the action. In his eyes, it is a leading factor that caused a national catastrophe.

The French government attempted to create an incontrovertible paper currency and force the market to use it while manipulating its value. This inflation was accompanied by the largest price fixing scheme any government had attempted since Ancient Rome.

Together the inflation and price controls brought commerce and manufacturers to ruin. It destroyed people’s way of life.

Throughout the book White shows how the Government’s wishes are always powerless against the laws of economics. Despots cannot chnage the nature of the world we live in.

First written in 1896, this study has not been surpassed, and is still seen as one of the seminal works on the economic history of the French Revolution.

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  • Jeffrey Tucker

    Fiat Money Inflation in France

    Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White This book had a gigantic influence over a generation of liberty-minded thinkers. It was put into print by FEE, and circulated widely. It was one of the most popular libertarian works of the 1960s, but it is sadly forgotten today. It tells a great story, and you can immediately see why it was so influential. Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_fiat-money-inflation-in-france

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  • B.K. Marcus

    Merchant Scapegoats in Revolutionary France

    This amazing paragraph is from Fiat Money Inflation in France: The washerwomen of Paris, finding soap so dear that they could hardly purchase it, insisted that all the merchants who were endeavoring to save something of their little property by refusing to sell their goods for the wretched currency with which France was flooded, should be punished with death; the women of the markets and the hangers-on of the Jacobin Club called loudly for a law “to equalize the value of paper money and silver coin.” It was also demanded that a tax be laid especially on the rich, to the amount of four hundred million francs, to buy bread. Marat declared loudly that the people, by hanging shopkeepers and plundering stores, could easily remove the trouble. The result was that on the 28th of February, 1793, at eight o’clock in the evening, a mob of men and women in disguise began plundering the stores and shops of Paris. At first they demanded only bread; soon they insisted on coffee and rice and sugar; at last they seized everything on which they could lay their hands—cloth, clothing, groceries and luxuries of every kind. Two hundred such places were plundered. This was endured for six hours and finally order was restored only by a grant of seven million francs to buy off the mob. The new political economy was beginning to bear its fruits luxuriantly. A gaudy growth of it appeared at the City Hall of Paris when, in response to the complaints of the plundered merchants, Roux declared, in the midst of great applause, that “shopkeepers were only giving back to the people what they had hitherto robbed them of.”

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