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I'm currently reading "Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution" by Simon Schama. It is an ok book. There is a lot of divergence into the culture leading up to the revolution, which disrupt the flow of the book.

I'm only about half-way through, but a primary thesis seems to be that Louis XVI brought the revolution on his own head by calling the Estates-General. The Estates-General was called because Frances' creditors essentially refused to extend credit to the effectively insolvent crown. To quote from the book, p289

Investors in government funds - whether in Paris, Geneva, London or Amsterdam - calculated that a new regime was more likely to honor its obligations than the old one.

In this case the 'new regime' is referring to some sort of parliamentary style of system (e.g. something like the United Kingdom's constitutional monarchy).

Question :

Instead of resorting to calling the Estates-General, why didn't Louis XVI do what many (mostly unsuccessful) governments do and just print money? Yes there is a (possibly significant) inflationary component, but perhaps it would have bought him time to make the financial and tax reforms to bring France back to solvency.

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    To point you towards potentially useful sources: Burke, on his "reflections on the revolutions in france" quotes from a book from a high french finance official (not sure if this quoted book is available, but apparently it would give you accounting details about the Crown budget), and claims that the Crown's financial troubles were true but exaggerated by revolutionary propaganda, to discredit the old regime. His numbers show that immediately before the National Assembly took over, the deficit was nothing extraordinary as government deficits go. – Luiz Feb 18 at 17:21
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    1) How is it possible to write such elucubrations as "Investors in government funds - whether in Paris, Geneva, London or Amsterdam - calculated that a new regime was more likely to honor its obligations than the old one." ? Who could be these investors ? What is behind the verb "calculated". This is not serious. – Jean Marie Becker Feb 18 at 17:27
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    2) "Printing money" : it is what has been done with ["assignats"] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assignat) with a final bankrupt, just as the John Law system had collapsed some 75 years before that. – Jean Marie Becker Feb 18 at 17:36
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    Burke also extensively criticizes the revolutionary Assignats policy on his book, and he writes even before its final bankruptcy. – Luiz Feb 18 at 19:18
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    The question is a bit of an anachronism, as France did not have paper money at the time. – T.E.D. Feb 18 at 19:25

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