Today’s lesson in unintended consequences:

King Mansa Musa of Mali was the wealthiest person the world has ever seen. Mali was a center of trade with abundant salt and gold, and being south of the Sahara, avoided many of the conflicts of the “known world,” allowing it to prosper.

Mansa Musa was a devout Muslim, and in the year 1324 decided to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. By some accounts, he brought 60,000 people with him in his caravan. Being a devout Muslim, and being on a pilgrimage, Mansa Musa took his Zakat tithing to the poor seriously. Being the richest man the world has ever seen, such abundant generosity brought so much gold to the local economy of Cairo (where he stopped on the way to Mecca) that it devalued the currency, creating hyper-inflation.

It took some 20 years for the markets to regain normality.