Inflation Lessons From Syria's Civil War—Hyperinflation is Never a Monetary Phenomenon

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 29 2013 2:47 PM

Inflation Lessons From Syria's Civil War—Hyperinflation is Never a Monetary Phenomenon

Activists take part in a pro-Syria demonstration outside the Syrian embassy in Caracas on August 29, 2013.

Photo by LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

The number one inflation lesson from the Syrian Civil War is that Syria has a lot of inflation, which is what will happen when your country has a civil war:


The larger lesson here is that this is the typical situation. Milton Friedman famously said that "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon" which I believe was meant as a rejoinder to people who favored wage and price controls. And there's some truth to that. But really big inflations—the dread hyperinflations people warn about when they tell you Ben Bernanke is turning America into the next Zimbabwe—are really never monetary phenomena. They are the outcome of political crisis: Civil war, foreign conquest, reparations agreements, whatever. Putting a solid conservative central banker in charge of things in Damascus wouldn't change anything. The issue is that the country's real economy has been wrecked by violent conflict.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.