Industrial and Commercial Regulations

Industrial and Commercial Regulations

It is not to be inferred that, because the Roman law stood for private property and freedom of contract, the Roman state did not interfere in economic matters. In times of financial crisis the state estab­lished a public bank to supplement the activities of the professional bankers of the Forum, and not a few measures for the protection of debtors were passed. Cicero induced certain Greeks and Romans, who had cornered the food supply in Cilicia, to promise stores to the people; and fines were levied on grain merchants who by hoarding had raised prices. An sedile in­spected goods placed on sale in Roman markets, confiscating those in which fraud was found; and at various times the gov­ernment took measures to prevent foreign competition with Italian producers, to regulate prices of oil, and to prevent the exportation of precious metals. An interesting case, too, is the regulation of traffic in Rome, loaded wagons being forbidden the use of the streets, except during the evening or night, and only those engaged in public building operations could be used between sunrise and the tenth hour.2 All this was before the close of the Republic, and indicates the recognition in a practical way of the necessity for state participation in industrial matters.