Take cover when you hear a political leader talking about economic affairs. You can bet a bad decision is incoming. Luckily for the leaders, their meddling usually has a slow, erosive effect on the economy. Every so often, however, the great ones manage to land a real whopper that takes them down along with their whole country. Here are ten examples from history.
1. Charge Too Much and You Die
In the year 301, the Roman emperor Diocletian issued the Edictum De Pretiis Rerum Venalium, i.e., the Edict on Prices of Foodstuffs, which rebalanced the coinage system and set maximums on wages and the prices of many types of goods, especially food. The penalty for selling above the stipulated prices was death. Copies of the edict were inscribed on stone monuments all over the empire. Here's a tip for future dictators: never inscribe your blunders on stone unless you want people to laugh at you for the rest of eternity. The edict was a disaster. Sellers withdrew their goods, unwilling to sell at the fixed prices or even risk being falsely accused of selling beyond the maximum and thus be subject to execution. Workers responded to the wage edicts by vanishing or sitting around doing nothing. Eventually the edict was ignored and became a subject of derision and mockery which permanently lowered the prestige and authority of the empire.
2. Shearing the English Wolf