While searching for something else I came across this on the celebrated international crisis took place in the otherwise unremarkable year of 33 a.d.
The financial crisis of 33AD is largely considered to be caused by policies that Tiberius took in order to limit the aristocrats’ wealth and land-ownership, and done in response to Augustus‘s massive private and public expenditures. Prior to 33AD, Augustus engaged in lavish spending in the public and private sector, while greatly encouraging land ownership and investment in real estate. Augustus thought that all citizens should have access to land and money. As a result, he aggressively engaged in a massive extension of credit into the real estate and public sector, and engaged in riskier and riskier loans. Due to his policies, land and real estate prices rose dramatically, benefitting his wealthy and noble land-owner friends who owned large amounts of property and invested heavily in real estate. Tiberius noticed such collusion, and looked to curb the amount of land that the wealthy and elites owned, as well as control the rapidly inflating money supply. He engaged in heavy austerity policies such as ordering for all loans be paid off immediately, and began confiscating property from the wealthy land-owners. By restricting loans for land purchasing, and the demand to pay loans in full, debtors were forced to sell off their property and real estate, which drastically dropped real estate and land prices. Paired with Tiberius’ credit restriction policies and the Senate naively demanding that people continue to invest in land despite what was going on, massive deflation occurred which ultimately cause the market to collapse.
Previously I thought the crisis was attributable to a balance of payments issue since it originated in the new Roman colony of Carthage. But it appears to have the same antecedentry as that which brought about the international recession in 2007, namely an attempt by well-meaning people to ensure the lower orders have a stake in the nation by forcing a subsidy of housing, especially by lowering the prudential requirements and creating credit. Augustus generally gets a good press and Wiki tends to blame the guy who came along to clean it up, but plus ca change …..