Macroeconomic Features of the French Revolution

  title={Macroeconomic Features of the French Revolution},
  author={Thomas J. Sargent and François R. Velde},
  journal={Journal of Political Economy},
  pages={474 - 518}
This paper describes aspects of the French Revolution from the perspective of theories about money and government budget constraints. We describe how unpleasant fiscal arithmetic gripped the Old Regime, how the Estates General responded to reorganize France's fiscal affairs, and how fiscal exigencies impelled the Revolution into a procession of monetary experiments ending in hyper-inflation. 

The fiscal background of the Russian revolution

This article examines important aspects of the interaction between the fiscal history and political events of tsarist Russia’s final years in the light of macroeconomic theories of government budget

The Political Economy of Fiscal Prudence in Historical Perspective

This paper uses a new panel dataset to perform a statistical analysis of political regimes and financial rectitude over the long run. Old Regime polities in Europe typically suffered from fiscal

How Fiscal Policy Affects Prices: Britain's First Experience with Paper Money

For almost 25 years between 1797 and 1821, the gold standard in Britain was suspended in order to finance the Napoleonic Wars, creating a paper pound or a fiat currency. Suspension was accompanied by

Understanding Inflation as a Joint Monetary-Fiscal Phenomenon

On the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy

In this paper we review some fundamental issues that have been identified by macroeconomists in discussing the co-ordination of monetary and fiscal policy. As Sargent and Wallace (1981) graphically

How Fiscal Policy Affects the Price Level: Britain's First Experience with Paper Money

Between 1797 and 1821, Britain suspended the gold standard in order to finance the Napoleonic Wars. This measure was accompanied by large scale debt accumulation and inflation: After Napoleon’s final

Fiscal Crisis and Institutional Change in the Ottoman Empire and France

Why is it that some countries adopted growth enhancing institutions earlier than others during the early modern period? We address this question through a comparative study of the evolution of French

Fiscal Foundations of Monetary Regimes

Fiscal considerations and commitment drive the choice of monetary policy regime, especially for developing countries. I survey the fiscal foundations of price determination, and study the


This paper examines the long-run fiscal sustainability of the colonial finances of Spanish America. Using econometric tests of intertemporal stability and a macroeconomic budget constraint framework,


In this study, the recent literature on the integration of fiscal and monetary policy is used to examine the suspensions and resumptions of currency convertibility in Sweden during the period



A Tale of Two Currencies: British and French Finance During the Napoleonic Wars

The record of British and French finance during the Napoleonic wars presents the striking picture of a financially strong nation abandoning the gold standard, borrowing heavily, and generating

Was There a Solution to the Ancien Régime's Financial Dilemma?

  • E. White
  • Economics, History
    The Journal of Economic History
  • 1989
The fiscal policy accomplishments of the ancien régime during its last two decades in France have been greatly underappreciated. While the collapse of the monarchy has been attributed to persistent

The Financial Market and Government Debt Policy in France, 1746–1793

This article offers a new quantitative history of the market for government debt in France before the Revolution. The monarchy was a persistent default risk because of institutional obstacles to

A Price Discrimination Analysis of Monetary Policy

Monetary policy is analysed within a model that appeals to legal restrictions on private intermediation to explain the coexistence of currency and interest-bearing default-free bonds. The interaction

The Seven Years War and the Old Regime in France: The Economic and Financial Toll

Taking French participation in the Seven Years War as a case study, this book examines the effects of war on the economy and on government finance, finding that the economic toll has usually been

Tontines, Public Finance, and Revolution in France and England, 1688–1789

  • D. Weir
  • History, Economics
    The Journal of Economic History
  • 1989
Tontines were used more extensively by France than Britain. Comparative tontine history illuminates the differing evolution of public finance in the two countries and its political consequences.

French Finances 1770-1795: From Business to Bureaucracy

Part I. The Central Administration of Finance and How it Worked: 1. Introduction 2. King and Council 3. The Minister and his Department 4. The Accountants and their Caisses 5. Private Enterprise in

A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the problems of the day were of a kind that led economists to concentrate on the allocation of resources and, to a lesser extent, economic growth, and

On the Determination of the Public Debt

  • R. Barro
  • Economics
    Journal of Political Economy
  • 1979
A public debt theory is constructed in which the Ricardian invariance theorem is valid as a first-order proposition but where the dependence excess burden on the timing of taxation implies an optimal

The Inefficiency of Interest-bearing National Debt

The coexistence of money and default-free interest-bearing government bonds is explained by transaction costs; the private sector absorbs money with less real difficulty than it absorbs bonds. Under