Wednesday, November 6

Hammurabi, the Guy Was Great

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By Art Cashin

On (about) this day in (about) 1772 B.C. one of the great administrative minds in human history issued a new code of law. His name of course was Hammurabi the Great of Babylonia. Throughout human history lots of rulers have adopted "the Great" in their titles but on a merit basis this guy clearly deserved to be on the short list.

More than a millennium before Socrates, Caesar, and Christianity and nearly 500 years before Moses - - he issued a code of conduct that was all encompassing, yet amazingly fair and flexible. Most schoolboys (er make that school - - persons) learn that the code of Hammurabi was "an eye for an eye". It was far more complex. It tried to cover all human interactions and attempted to marry two concepts - - "the strong shall not injure the weak" and all shall have a right to prosper in line with their effort. It covered crime, property rights, divorce, military service, inheritance, loans and bankruptcy. (Remember, 4000 years ago there was an active futures market in most commodities and an early form of program trading.)

Hammurabi's code was so broad it included some items that might get him invited as a guest on Donahue; et. al. (it covered medical malpractice claims and limits on bankrupting the family of those chronically ill). Anyway it brought great peace and prosperity to the people for centuries (until some government types began to play politics).

To celebrate, stop by the Constitution Lounge and have a couple of Amendments on the rocks.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.


  1. Love your stories and especially your good drinking advice to cap them off.
    Keep up the good work gentlemen.

    Robin D. Berg

    1. Thanks for the kind comments. I'm so happy that you enjoy our efforts that I will gladly buy you a virtual drink at the virtual bar. Just pretend I picked up the bar tab.


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