Classical Bail-Out

The Tired Fools blog found a credit crunch in ancient Rome, Tacitus’ “The Annals of Imperial Rome”:

Tacitus’ Accusers were now intensely active. Their present targets were men who enriched themselves by usury, infringing laws by which the dictator Julius Ceasar had controlled loans and land-ownership in Italy. Since patriotism comes second to private profits, this law had long been ignored. Money-lending is an ancient problem in Rome, and a frequent cause of disharmony and disorder. Even in an earlier, less corrupt society steps had been taken against it.

Fraudulence, attacked by repeated legislation, was ingeniously revived after each successive counter-measure. …when the capitalists received payment they hoarded it…

Then Tiberius came to the rescue. He distributed a hundred million among specially established banks… [but as] usual, the beginning was strict, the sequel slack.