Great Hyperinflations in World History

EH385 — with Hunt Tooley

Dates: June 15, 2010 - August 16, 2010
Status: Closed

This summer course runs from June 15-August 16, 2010. Hunt Tooley, professor of History at Austin College, a renowned expert on war, revolution, and the rise of the total state, is the author of The Western Front (on World War I) and many scholarly articles. He is also an expert on the relationship between hyperinflation and political upheaval. This course, taught from the perspective of a historian, deals with the definition and meaning of inflation, and then takes a march through European and American history to look at famous cases of hyperinflation and its aftermath, with a special focus on the 20th century and its wars, depressions, and political shifts. It features weekly lectures, forums, online readings and media, and much more. Grading and quizzes not required. All digital materials are provided as part of course.

Weekly Topics:

  • Definition and Theory of Inflation
  • Keynsian Economics
  • Theory of Money and Credit
  • Monetary Systems in Early Modern Europe
  • From the Nineteenth Century to World War I
  • The World Wars: Inflation, Boom, Depression
  • High Inflations in the eighties/nineties/2000s
  • Inflation in modern times


Lectures will be held on Thursdays at 9 pm EDT.


A full hyper-linked syllabus with readings for each weekly topic will be available for all students.

Books Available at the Mises Store

Several excerpts from the following books are assigned readings in this course. (Note: Purchasing these books is NOT required. All readings in this course are available online for free.)

America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard
Exchange, Prices, and Production in Hyperinflation: Germany 1920-192
3 by Frank Graham.
The Theory of Money and Credit
by Ludwig von Mises

Final Grade, Transcript, and Certificate of Completion:

The final grade will depend on participation (in both lecture and discussion sessions), essays, quizzes, and the final exam. Students will have access to a digital transcript for the course. We will add any future grades for future Mises Academy courses taken to this transcript. Students will also receive a digital, printable Certificate of Completion.

Course Syllabus

14 JUNE – 20 JUNE

Definition and Theory I

Reading Assignments

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overview of BLS Statistics on Inflation and Prices”
David Ranson, “Inflation,” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
Frank Shostak, “Defining Inflation”
R. A. Radford, “The Economic Organisation of a P.O.W. Camp,” Economica, New Series, Vol. 12, No. 48 (Nov., 1945), pp. 189-201.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: “XVI. Prices–1. The Pricing Process”file
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Good Society (1996), Chapter 6—”Inflation,” pp. 43-49. Find this on Google Books:

21 JUNE – 27 JUNE

Definition and Theory II

Henry Hazlitt, “What You Should Know About Inflation”
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: “XX. Interest, Credit Expansion,
and the Trade Cycle,” 570-586 (from “The Difference Between Credit Expansion and Simple Inflation” to the end of the chapter).
Wikipedia entry on “Keynsian Economics” (Since I am adding the article below, feel free merely to skim the Wikipedia article (no paragraph needed on this one: devote your time to the Raico article)
Ralph Raico, “Was Keynes a Liberal?” Independent Review, Fall 2008.
Friedrich von Hayek, “Choice in Currency: A Way to Stop Inflation,” (Look down to the choices at the bottom of the screen: go either to the web version or the pdf.)
Ludwig von Mises, Theory of Money and Credit, Chapter 13 “Monetary Policy,” sections 3 (“Inflationism”) through 7 (“Excursus: The Concepts…”) (in the original 219-240).
Ludwig von Mises, “Inflation and You,” from Economic Freedom and Interventionism

28 JUNE – 4 JULY

Monetary Systems in Early Modern Europe

Sept 24–Frederic C. Lane, “Venetian Bankers, 1496-1533: A Study in the Early Stages of Deposit
Banking,” The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Apr., 1937), pp. 187-206PDF document
Article on Henry VIII’s “Great Debasement”
Oct 1–Jesus Huerta de Soto, “New Light on the Prehistory of the Theory of Banking and the School of Salamanca,” The Review of Austrian Economics (1996)
Read Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, The Ancien Regime (1998), 280 (from mid-page, “How, briefly…” to end of p. 301. On Google Books.
Oct 6–Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, chapter 1, “The Money Mania.–The Mississippi Scheme,” pp. 1-75 (the full chapter).
Antoin E. Murphy, “Law and Turgot: The Importance of Money” (2004).
Andrew Dickson White. Fiat Money Inflation in France
Murray Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty, vol. 2 (1999), pp. 123-140
Murray Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty, vol. 4 (1999), pp. 373-383

5 JULY – 11 JULY

From the Nineteenth Century to World War I

Murray Rothbard, What Has Government Done to Our Money? excerpt:
Wesley C. Mitchell, “Greenbacks and the Cost of the Civil War,” The Journal of Political Economy (1897).
Wikipedia entry on “Gold Standard”
Michael D. Bordo, “Gold Standard” entry in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
Be reading Murray Rothbard, The Case Against the Fed. Download pdf from Mises.org, the first title listed
Murray Rothbard, The Case Against the Fed, 70-129.PDF document

12 JULY – 18 JULY

The World Wars: Inflation, Boom, Depression

Russell Ally, “War and Gold–The Bank of England, the London Gold Market and South Africa’s Gold, 1914-19,” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Jun., 1991) GET THIS ON JSTOR
T. Hunt Tooley, “Merchants of Death Revisited: Armaments, Bankers, and the First World War,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, 2005 Hans F. Sennholz, “Hyperinflation in Germany”
Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, Edward Dimendberg, The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, pp. 60-68. Please read this on Google Books
Wikipedia entry for Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peacefile
John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (read chapter VI.: “Europe After the Treaty”)
Frank Graham, Exchange, Prices, and Production in Hyper-Inflation: Germany 1920-1923,
“Part I: Historical Background,” pp. 1-48.
Frank Graham, Exchange, Prices, and Production in Hyper-Inflation: Germany 1920-1923,
“Part I: Historical Background,” pp. 48-94.
Nov 10—Constantino Bresciani-Turroni, The Economics of Inflation: A Study of Currency Depreciation in Postwar Germany (pp. 287-360)
Blog comment by a civilian—summary of Adam Fergusson’s When Money Dies.
Murray Rothbard, America’s Great Depression, 3-29, 85-116.
Murray Rothbard, America’s Great Depression, 185-207
Robert Higgs, “War Prosperity? A Reassessment of the U.S. Economy in the 1940s,”
The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 41-60

19 JULY – 25 JULY

World War II and After

Peter R. Senn, “Cigarettes As Currency,” The Journal of Finance, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Sep., 1951), pp. 329-332
Wikipedia entry on “Stagflation”


High Inflations in the eighties/nineties/2000s

Read this straight description of the Argentine inflationary waves from an Economics course:
Another Report on current Argentinian problems:
Yonca Ozdemir, “A study in comparative inflation in Argentina Brazil Israel Mexico and Turkey,” a paper from the International Studies Association meeting, 2004.
News Item from Business News, 21 Aug. 08: “Crippled by inflation, Zimbabwe doctors strike for better pay”


Inflation in modern times: Considerations I

Guido Hülsmann, “The Cultural and Spiritual Legacy of Inflation”


Inflation in modern times: Considerations II

Hans Sennholz, “The Many Evils of Inflation”file Llewellyn H. Rockwell, “War and Inflation”file


Hunt Tooley

Hunt Tooley is Professor of History at Austin College in Sherman, TX, and an Adjunct Faculty Member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He specializes in the history of war, revolution, and “peace” in the twentieth century. He is the author of National Identity in Weimar Germany and The Western Front: Battleground and Homefront in the First World War, and editor and contributor to Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe. He has published articles and reviews in The American Historical Review, The English Historical Review, Central European History, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, The Independent Review, and other scholarly journals.

Academy Courses