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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Prices in the Roman economy were generally set by the operation of free market forces. Occasional government interventions in the form of price ceilings occurred in times of crisis, to stabilise volatile or politically important markets, or to signal moral policies. The mechanism of price formation was generally understood, but price shocks were expected to be curbed. In a similar vein, the valuation techniques developed by the Roman jurists were based on “true” prices rather than pure market prices. Even so, party autonomy in price setting was the norm. The grain market was guided to some extent for obvious political reasons, but even here there was room for private initiative. The freedom to contract was stressed as late as Diocletian, but, not much later, rampant inflation forced him to issue his edict on maximum prices, which remains an exceptional regulation in many ways.

Keywords: price setting, price formation, market value, valuation, Freedom of Contract, market intervention

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