Stimulus (Ring Crisis Book 1)

Germany could call in €50b as stimulus
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Why It Made Bernanke Angrier than Anything Else in the Recession

Archived from the original on 3 January Before the crisis many participants households subscribed to a narrative in which their growing spending could be sustained more or less indefinitely through borrowing because house prices would always rise. For example, the hero knows a secret that could win the war for his country, but if he reveals it, enemy agents will kill his family. Eliminating exchange rate flexibility in Europe and the emerging markets led to growing trade surpluses and deficits. He makes an especially important distinction between financial crises arising from lack of liquidity — a type of problem for which central banks have excellent solutions — and those arising from structural problems that are unsustainable - which require political and economic solutions that may be at odds with the first.

Click to Hide. May Cheryl K. Donald Trump. Los Angeles Dodgers. Joseph R. Washington Redskins. Bernanke added that the government had no choice but to bail it out. Fortunately, the long-term cost of the bailout was much less than the initial payout. These swaps insured the assets that supported corporate debt and mortgages.

If AIG went bankrupt, it would trigger the bankruptcy of many of the financial institutions that had bought these swaps. AIG was so large that its demise would impact the entire global economy. Financial institutions around the world were also major holders of AIG's debt. As stockholders got wind of the situation, they sold their shares, making it even more difficult for AIG to cover the swaps. Even though AIG had more than enough assets to cover the swaps, it couldn't sell them before the swaps came due.

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In return, the Fed took ownership of That gave it the right to replace management, which it did. It also had veto power over all important decisions, including asset sales and payment of dividends. The bailout occurred exactly one day after U. That move forced investment bank Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy. But October's stock market plunge made that impossible. Any potential buyer needed all its cash for its own balance sheets. Meanwhile, Liddy had to safely unwind billions in credit default swaps. On November 10, , the Fed restructured its aid package.

On the other hand, recent analysis of Late Medieval famines coupling data about grain prices and yields with refined information about weather as obtained by dendrochronological series and study of the Antarctic layers of ice led to the conclusion that:.

Consequently, the information about weather used in this article will be mostly of a qualitative nature 7. As shall be seen, it was some continuous years of bad weather, happening at a time when the global climate was cooling, that triggered the worst famine ever faced by Northern Italy during the Late Medieval or Early Modern period. The first year characterized by very poor crops was a fact of which the local authorities were well aware.

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In June, immediately after the harvest, the governor of Modena Ferrante Estense Tassoni informed the Duke of Ferrara that the new crop of grain had yielded only a third compared to the previous year which admittedly had been a good one 8. Later it became apparent that also the grapes would provide a very poor yield. Of course, some grain-producing regions were struck worse than others, both by bad weather and by epidemics of diseases often associated with famine such as typhus 11 , but all of them were affected, at least to a degree. This empirical regularity suggests a long-lasting limit to population growth in the Italian peninsula. Reconstruction of births in Northern Italy, Database G. This was also a period of transformation for the Italian rural areas, especially in the north: a transformation which was however still incomplete, or was unavoidably slow and unable to sustain a population growing too quickly notwithstanding the processes of agrarian innovation at work This demographic fragility has little to do with an economic fragility.

In this perspective, the famine of the s was not, as Cipolla and others 18 had it, the sign of an incumbent economic crisis, but it was simply the signal of a difficult relationship between man and resources precipitated by a fast demographic growth: a growth, which was in itself proof of the solidity of the Italian economies. This would also be demonstrated by the fact that the population recovered quickly after the famine Figure 1 , suggesting that the high level of both population and economic development attained by the s possessed a degree of stability and was not short lived as Cipolla argued.

In the north only the plague of , which struck at a time of fierce international competition, particularly from North European countries, was able to cause lasting damage to the economy of the area.


This hypothesis is developed elsewhere This is not due to a further worsening of the situation, but to the fact that the reserves had become exhausted, and that cities and communities were now badly indebted given the cost of buying grain abroad, especially in Northern Europe where the situation was not yet critical. This is the case of the grand-dukes of Tuscany and of the Republic of Genoa who bought grain in the Baltic 20 , or of the city of Palermo that tried to get some through English merchants The situation worsened further in and in certain areas of Italy, such as Emilia, also was characterized by bad crops.

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The overall situation, however, had changed, the crisis was no longer general, and provision authorities could buy the food they needed with comparable ease. The data for the rural community of Nonantola discussed in section 3 is the rare exception. If we want to analyze in detail the territorial extent of the crisis, and its ability to affect very diverse environments, we have to look once again at fertility baptisms. Historical demographers have established that most food crises did not cause a sharp increase in deaths, but had much more visible effects regarding marriages and births.

As a consequence, it has been suggested that the trend of births, not deaths, is the indicator most sensitive to dearth and famine One can hypothesise that a lesser dependence on the grain harvest enabled the population to resist the famine for a certain period but not indefinitely.

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It is also probable that mountain dwellers suffered less than others from typical complications of famine such as typhus, more severe in crowded areas such as cities and the rich lowland countryside we know of epidemics of typhus in the cities of Bologna, Piacenza, Faenza, Modena, Reggio, Parma, Ferrara, Mantova, but also in Veneto, Tuscany and Lazio The mountains, though, are the only environment where we find communities seemingly spared by the famine or at least affected so slightly as to show no demographic reaction.

In the map, no distinction is made between urban and rural communities because the aim is to show the extent of a crisis that involved both cities and rural areas. The scarcity of cases related to the North-East is not due to the absence of crisis, but to a scarcity of available information Figure 2. The famine of the s: geographic extent. If births are very sensitive indicators of the occurrence of a food crisis, the famine of the s was characterized also by exceptional mortality.

In these latter cases, it is the loss of the privileged status of capital that makes a city less attractive. The famine, then, becomes the opportunity to breach a psychological resistance to emigrate, moving to places characterised by better expectations In almost every case these are mountain villages, especially if we discount some parishes of the suburbs of Bologna where the evaluations may have been distorted by the small number of annual baptisms the lower the number of baptisms per year, the greater the influence on the demographic trend of random variations.

Factors such as differences in the regime of land ownership surely had an impact on individual access to resources, but in such a severe crisis they did not determine which communities were spared the worst consequences, as has been shown elsewhere Also differences in the action of food provision authorities or in access to markets do not seem to be decisive In fact, the relationship with the territory established by mountain dwellers was very different from that of plain dwellers, being characterised by a lower population density and a different crop regime The second point is decisive, since the crisis was essentially due to a grain shortage.

Mountain populations based their nutrition on animal husbandry, horticulture, and the growth of specialized crops more than the populations in the lowlands and obviously suffered less from a lack of grain. Furthermore, the importance of arboreal crops typical of low and mid-mountain must not be neglected, above all the chestnut, which is very resistant to adverse climatic factors and whose fruit is highly calorific and rich in vitamins The fact that in years of good or normal crops many mountain communities imported grain from the plain is not in contrast with the conclusion that, during a severe grain crisis, those same communities show a relatively low vulnerability.

Here, some of the largest cities existing in Europe at the time depended on a demographic-agrarian system built upon ancient ties among cities, their contadi or surrounding countryside, and other food-producing areas further away. It is this system, which is both economic and social in nature, that after a long period of continuous shortage entered into a crisis and finally broke down.

In the next section I will analyze this process focussing on the case of Emilia, in normal times characterized by a particularly rich agriculture but badly affected by the crisis of the s. My aim is now to describe and to explain this process, focussing on a particular region which in normal years was among the most fertile areas of the whole peninsula: Emilia.

Positioned south of the River Po, which divides it from Lombardy and Veneto, Emilia today makes up most of the administrative region Emilia-Romagna. This is relevant to our case given that some of the statistics presented have been built on the base of such administrative boundaries; however, most of the other data is related to the cities of Modena and Bologna and the surrounding countryside, at the very heart of Emilia.

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Romagna can roughly be identified as that part of Emilia-Romagna placed south of the River Reno crossing the territory of Bologna and Imola, later reaching the sea to the north of Ravenna; see Figure 3 ; the rest of the region is Emilia. The region Emilia-Romagna, current administrative boundaries. In the cities, the prices of wheat reached extremely high levels. Figure 4 shows the quick rise in prices, from the Soldi per staro of wheat paid in the city of Modena, Basini, G. It must be said, though, that in the case of extreme famines such as this one, food prices fail to fully reflect the gravity of the situation.

At a certain point during the crisis, the price paid for wheat and other cereals on the urban markets is no longer an index of the real possibility of finding food in the cities. To put it bluntly, there is a price, but there is no wheat. For the authorities, then, the problem becomes that of finding resources which are to be rationed and distributed to the starving population, mostly freely practically nobody can afford to pay, and anyway there is no food being sold on the market.

In Bologna, already on first September private stocks of food reserves were requisitioned by the vicelegato the governor to be distributed by the government When the situation becomes extreme, provision authorities even stop worrying about how indebted they might become in order to buy food, as in Modena in , when the city does not ask the Dukes of Este for money to buy wheat, but to only find some wheat for which the city itself is willing to pay, at any price:.

Basini , , p. I shall return later to this point. In those years, the food-producing countryside suffered equally from the shortage, and even worse: given that the rural people enjoyed much less protection by the authorities compared to the citizens. These three components are also shown in the graph. This fact is simply due to the prevalence of this component on the total: even considering that the urbanization rates of the area were very high, the share of Northern Italian population living in large cities has been estimated by De Vries 38 to be around Reconstruction of births in Emilia-Romagna, This is slightly worse in the cities than in the countryside, but the key point is that in the early s everybody was badly affected by the crisis.

This happened in different ways and for different reasons, and with a very different role being played by the local and national authorities.

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Even feeding the people came to represent a kind of ancillary end — given that it was impossible to avoid riots without providing the population with a minimum of food. As has been recently suggested, poverty and hunger are not the principal reason but just one of many possible causes for popular revolt in the late Middle Ages At the same time, it is certainly true that during a famine the crime rate and the general propensity for violence increase dramatically.

This is what happened in Bologna in 41 while in Napoli, also affected by the famine, a decision was taken to expel foreigners and students The following year, the poor or jobless foreigners were expelled from the whole of the territory of the small Duchy of Mantua An attempt however was made to help them outside the walls: it was decreed that four ounces of rice per head were to be distributed daily in specific points of the contado.

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Vizzani, who was close to the city government, tends to throw a positive light on this as well as other initiatives taken to feed the urban poor — many of whom were actually interned to prevent trouble. During the famine of the s, the same happened in Parma 44 as well as in many other cities. This does not depend solely on the fact that most of the population lived in the countryside, but may be the symptom of higher mortality rates. Paradoxically, during a bad famine the traditional relationship of city and countryside, the first consuming food and the other producing it, is reversed: with the rural people looking to the cities as sources of food.

It was in the cities, in fact, that the food provision authorities were placed: authorities that theoretically had the means to look for food in distant areas of the State, in other States, and even across the sea, and whose action during the worst famines was considered fundamental to ensure the presence of grain in the urban market What the rural people, in their desperation, failed to understand is that those were urban authorities unwilling, or unable, to help them. When they realized this fact, usually the hard way, they fell prey to dreams of mythical lands full of food.

In the s, at the peak of the crisis, the rural people of Emilia mass-migrated to Lombardy only to discover that the peasants of Lombardy were themselves migrating southwards. They were repeating old mistakes but, as brilliantly clarified by Piero Camporesi 46 , nothing was more capable of causing self-suggestion among the desperate than the slow torment of hunger.

At the time of the famine, the rural people of the Modena contado had behaved similarly:.

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Basini, , p. While such behaviour caused economic concerns to the authorities the migrant peasants often stole the cattle and property of the landowners , it also became a further scourge inflicted upon the countryside: where roving bands of hungry peasants devastated what was left of the crops, and sometimes even converted into brigands prone to violence I will further develop this point in the next section.

On the contrary, the farmers of Emilia had long been aware of the danger represented by the growing imbalance between population and food production capacity. It also became a factor of fragility for the agrarian-demographic system, given that an excessive reliance upon wheat exposed the farmers and peasants of Emilia to greater risks in times of meteorological conditions particularly unfavourable to grain.