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.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.