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Rome's Economic Revolution$
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Philip Kay

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199681549

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199681549.001.0001

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After the Credit Crunch

After the Credit Crunch

(p.235) 10 After the Credit Crunch
Rome's Economic Revolution

Philip Kay

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Rome’s changing financial structure between the 80s and 50s bc. We know there was a credit crisis at Rome in 88 and there are other indications of monetary problems in the 80s. By the 60s, any mention of argentarii and deposit banking virtually disappear from our sources. Instead we hear of wealthy individuals (‘aristocratic financiers’) providing credit to fellow members of the elite and to kings and cities in the Hellenistic East. Does this reflect a real change in the credit market at Rome or merely in the financial practices of an elite to which our principal source, Cicero, belonged? This chapter argues that, by the 60s, there were probably fewer banks in existence, with smaller balance sheets, that the main providers of credit had become ‘aristocratic financiers’, instead of the argentarii, and that this development could have had a negative impact on the wider Roman economy.

Keywords:   credit crisis, argentarii, monetary, deposit, banking, aristocratic financiers, Cicero, financial structure, Hellenistic, elite

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