Questions tagged [economy]

Questions which concern the historical management, distribution, and usage of resources; why a particular resource, or state of production, occurred in a certain way. General economics questions are off-topic but may be welcome on our sister site Economics Stack Exchange.

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71 votes
8 answers
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Has an individual ever purchased an entire country?

At any point in history, has an individual ever purchased an entire country - using their private wealth? Specifically, I'm looking for any examples of somebody who has purchased an entire already-...
Bilkokuya's user avatar
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61 votes
9 answers
77k views

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during WW2?

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during the war? They produced a large amount of war material during 1939-1945, but how was this production financed? What were Germany's revenue streams that ...
David Pointer's user avatar
52 votes
7 answers
4k views

Has a state ever "attacked" another one by printing fake money?

Has any state ever performed an "economic attack" against another state, by printing fake money of the victim's currency? Or, is it known if someone ever considered doing it, and which were the ...
o0'.'s user avatar
  • 1,721
50 votes
2 answers
10k views

Where did the Romans store their cash?

In the era before banking was invented, where did wealthy Romans store their cash? The emperor probably could store it somewhere in the imperial palace thanks to the Praetorian guard, but what about ...
Karlth's user avatar
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47 votes
5 answers
18k views

Where did Hitler get the funds to invest in economic development programs such as the autobahn when the German economy was in a depression?

Where did Hitler get the funds to invest in economic revitalization programs such as the autobahn and weapons' production when the German economy was in a depression?
m j meek's user avatar
  • 489
45 votes
12 answers
13k views

Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

Generally, Communism believed in economic central planning, with each field being serviced by one "company" (to avoid waste). Why was it that the Soviet Union had multiple airplane manufacturers, ...
Charles Shiller's user avatar
38 votes
3 answers
5k views

How and when was the modern company ownership structure invented?

More specifically I mean the very common structure with the following roles: Shareholders Board members CEO When was this structure invented, and how? It would also be very interesting to get any ...
dajoh's user avatar
  • 481
38 votes
3 answers
3k views

Did the end of the British Raj in India create an economic loss for Britain?

I know the economic downturn of the World War and the victory of the Labour Party played some role in Britain deciding to quit India. Did GB have any serious economic implications because of this? ...
Bravo's user avatar
  • 1,067
37 votes
2 answers
5k views

How did the American Civil War help the U.S economy recover from the Panic of 1857 given that civil wars are extremely destructive?

From the Wikipedia article on the Panic of 1857: Beginning in September 1857, the financial downturn did not last long; however, a proper recovery was not seen until the American Civil War. ...
curious's user avatar
  • 4,546
36 votes
10 answers
13k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
Harry Johnson's user avatar
35 votes
6 answers
7k views

Was slavery really on the way out in the antebellum USA?

Gail Jarvis, in an encomium to the Dunning School writes: William A. Dunning fervently opposed slavery but his reading of the trends of the times led him to the conclusion that the institution was ...
Felix Goldberg's user avatar
35 votes
3 answers
19k views

When was Silver ever more valuable than Gold?

These days we pretty much take it as a given that gold is more valuable than silver. The obvious example is the Olympics and other such competitions that give "gold" medals for first place and "silver"...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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33 votes
2 answers
6k views

Did any British working class men have the vote before 1918?

I was watching the film Suffragette recently and she mentioned her husband having the vote. I thought he looked too poor to already have the vote, but this didn't look like a film to just ignore ...
WendyG's user avatar
  • 1,309
31 votes
7 answers
7k views

Has there ever been anything like the oil boom we see today?

Since the discovery of oil, there have been entire nations that have literally been built from the ground up almost completely with oil money. This has been done, and is still being done, in ...
user31652's user avatar
  • 429
31 votes
3 answers
4k views

What was the economic basis for West Berlin?

From the 1950s to 1989, West Berlin was physically and economically cut off from the surrounding countryside. Since WWII it had lost the government service functions that help drive a capital's ...
hmakholm left over Monica's user avatar
30 votes
2 answers
2k views

What evidence is there for chain stores or restaurant chains in Ancient Rome?

In his book City, David Macaulay creates a fictional Roman city called Verbonia to show how a 'typical', planned Roman city was started from scratch. Although Verbonia and thus its characters are ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
27 votes
5 answers
24k views

How heavily were the British taxing their American colonies?

The British levied several taxes on the American Colonists (13), which were at least part of the reason for the American Revolution. Were the British taxing the 13 colonies for more money than was ...
Dale's user avatar
  • 4,392
26 votes
4 answers
35k views

What did Germany do after World War II to recover so successfully that it became more prosperous than its WW2 victors?

Germany lost in World War II. Being the loser, its economy started at a disadvantage compared to her World War II victors in the aftermath of WW2. However, Germany managed to recover more ...
curious's user avatar
  • 4,546
26 votes
5 answers
878 views

How would you accurately use older British currencies when writing a story?

For writing a story set in the Napoleonic Wars era, how should one use the currencies accurately? I read in novels they use currencies like shilling, pound, guinea, sovereign, four (or six-, etc) ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 6,865
26 votes
3 answers
9k views

How much did a transatlantic telegram cost in 1914?

How much did it cost to send a transatlantic telegram – if the specifics matter, say from New York to Berlin – in 1914? (Early 1914, before the war disrupted communications.) How much per word, and ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 2,605
25 votes
2 answers
3k views

Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03: Why is there a Russian flag on the cover of the prominent newspaper 'Le Petit Parisien'?

The Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03[a] was a naval blockade from December 1902 to February 1903 imposed against Venezuela by Britain, Germany and Italy over President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay ...
Übel Yildmar's user avatar
25 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why didn't the Black Death result in favorable results for surviving peasants in China?

The Black Death affected Europe and China alike. In Europe, the Black Death resulted in increased social mobility for the peasants and, as a result, labor-saving innovations were introduced. All ...
Graviton's user avatar
  • 1,416
25 votes
3 answers
2k views

How did Muslim traders raise investments given Islam's prohibition of usury?

During early caliphate era (7th-13th century), Muslim traders dominated trade in Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (see here and here for example). I think Islam's prohibition of interest or usury ...
Fitri's user avatar
  • 3,352
24 votes
5 answers
39k views

When and where was salt as valuable as gold?

I have often heard that gold and salt were sometimes considered of equal value. When and where did that occur?
Dale's user avatar
  • 4,392
24 votes
5 answers
9k views

Was public transportation free in the Soviet Union?

Was public transportation free in the Soviet Union? I'm interested in the metros and buses. If not, what did they cost? I'm most interested in the period around the late 1950's, early 1960's, but it ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 17.3k
24 votes
2 answers
3k views

Has mercantilism ever been successful?

Mercantilism, which includes protectionism, industrial policy, capital controls, and other distortions to trade, is generally viewed by economists today as unsound economic policy. An overwhelming ...
Tal Fishman's user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why did the British not introduce the sterling in India?

The question is about the adoption of currency during imperialist rule. Why did the British persist with the local currency, the rupee? What impediments did the British face in implementing the ...
Bravo's user avatar
  • 1,067
22 votes
4 answers
9k views

What was the size of surface of a cereal crop needed per man per year during the Dark Ages in Western Europe?

If I'm a peasant during the dark ages, what surface (in meters (<- I am in advance on my time)) I need to farm to get enough cereal (for bread and brew) ? how many cereals (in kg (<- again, I'm ...
The Unholy Metal Machine's user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
8k views

When did books first become affordable to the general population?

Gutenberg certainly had a great impact on the availability of books, but his printing press didn't help bring books into the hands of the poor. The price of books dropped from thousands of days worth ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 4,740
22 votes
3 answers
8k views

What goods did Germany trade during World War II, and with whom?

I have scoured the internet for numerical figures and an actual list of raw materials to no avail. Moreover, I am reasonably certain that many of you are very knowledgeable upon this subject matter, ...
关一骏's user avatar
  • 509
22 votes
1 answer
7k views

How did the monks whose job was to copy books react to Gutenberg's printing press?

It's typical to see people whose job it is to perform a manual task to - collectively - object when a new technology is introduced which makes their job obsolete (as the quintessential example, see ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 17.7k
21 votes
2 answers
32k views

Where did Japan get their oil during WWII?

To my understanding the United States was the largest exporter of oil to the Japanese prior to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese islands aren't known for their oil fields. It's also believed that the attacks ...
trippt02's user avatar
  • 502
21 votes
1 answer
5k views

Was the British Army a millionaire factory in the early 20th century?

I'm reading "Kenya Diary" by Richard Meinertzhagen where he relates his experiences as a junior officer in the British army around 1902. At one point he states that during his 5 year service in East ...
Johnny's user avatar
  • 685
21 votes
2 answers
819 views

How do Friedman and Bernanke's explanations about the causes of the Great Depression compare?

I know that both Friedman and Bernanke wrote papers (or books, in Friedman's case) about the cause of the Great Depression. How do their points of view compare and contrast?
Aarthi's user avatar
  • 411
21 votes
3 answers
7k views

What was the value of the spice trade during the age of exploration?

One of the initial motivations for the Europeans in sending exploration voyages was to find cheap spices. To be worth such expensive and risky mission, spices must have been worth a lot and must have ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 6,865
20 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why was gold so popular and valuable back when it did not have many real world uses?

I'm talking about back when it was first starting to get discovered, like 2000 B.C. (roughly). Gold was being used for coins, jewellery and more. It was a very well known commodity and accepted ...
Chantola's user avatar
  • 958
20 votes
3 answers
1k views

What were the first local currency systems in history?

What were the first local currency systems in history we have detailed information on? I don't think it was gold/silver or other hard to produce materials. Probably these became more important ...
Hauser's user avatar
  • 4,234
20 votes
2 answers
44k views

Were soldiers in the World Wars paid?

There have always been professional soldiers however during the world wards there were vast conscription to encourage young men to join up for "King and Country". Presumably there was some sort of ...
Liath's user avatar
  • 669
20 votes
4 answers
5k views

How was beer production affected by the war during WW2?

How did the war affect beer production during World War II? This is a follow-up question to this question at Seasoned Advice, which is gathering interesting food-science answers but which are are ...
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
20 votes
4 answers
966 views

Why did the USSR have two sources of currency?

An inscription on the 1, 3, and 5 rubles notes says that it is a State Treasury Note (Государственный Казначейский Билет), and that it is guaranteed by the entire property of the Union of SSR (...
user58697's user avatar
  • 918
19 votes
4 answers
15k views

What forces/incentives drove the Mongols to conquer a much larger territory than they could comfortably settle or rule?

Internet resources on the Mongol Empire usually dwell on the Mongol conquests of a huge mass of territory. Unfortunately, seldom are the reasons behind the conquests explained. One gets the impression ...
curious's user avatar
  • 4,546
19 votes
3 answers
5k views

Was the Roman Empire based on a 'plunder economy'?

It has been stated by Arnold J. Toynbee and James Burke that: The economy of the Empire was a Raubwirtschaft or plunder economy based on looting existing resources rather than producing anything ...
Chris Bunch's user avatar
  • 1,273
19 votes
2 answers
2k views

How much of an impact did the Roman emperors' civil wars have on their decision to debase the coinage?

From Adrian Goldsworthy's How Rome Fell: "Civil war remained a common event, ...the economy collapsed, as successive emperors massively devalued the coinage to pay for their wars." Other sources say ...
Sally's user avatar
  • 449
18 votes
2 answers
6k views

How did the Germans get housing again after WWII?

After a large number of homes were destroyed in the war, how did the average German become a homeowner again? I know about the Marshall Plan, but this question does not refer to how the economy in ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 4,740
18 votes
2 answers
41k views

What was the actual value of tea destroyed during the Boston Tea Party?

I'd like to know 2 or 3 of the following 3 metrics: Actual value in the currency of the time (yes I realize that there were local currencies and in general FX concept was... hard to do). NPV (...
DVK's user avatar
  • 17.7k
18 votes
1 answer
881 views

How did the existence of the Alps impact the development of Switzerland?

Can anyone tell me what was the role of Alps and Alpine region in Swiss development of Switzerland?
Gautam Shrivastava's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
950 views

Was the European slave market in the East during the colonial era similar to the transatlantic slave market? If not (less brutal, etc), why?

As far as I understand it, European colonialist powers did have a slave market in the East, in the Indian Ocean. That is, there was this market as well as the Transatlantic slave market[1-3]. What I ...
Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman's user avatar
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

Can it be justified that an economic contraction of 11.3% is "the largest fall for more than 300 years"?

Today the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said "The OBR forecast the economy will contract this year by 11.3%, the largest fall in output for more than 300 years." This seems to me to be a very ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 585
17 votes
3 answers
2k views

In the first half of 20th century, how was gold inspected for authenticity?

Let's say this for the years 1900 - 1950, before we had modern analysis tools. When trade payments were made in gold, how was the gold inspected for quality? How did they assess the purity of gold, ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 17.3k
17 votes
2 answers
11k views

How was security on the Silk Road between China and the West maintained?

From the 2nd century BC to the beginning of the 15th century the Silk Road (or more correctly roads, as there were alternative routes) was the primary trade route between China and the West. One ...
Bruce James's user avatar
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