World Cycles Institute

Same Wheel, Different Hamsters — A Typical 172 Year Cycle

Many would say we’re in uncertain times. We are in terms of individual events, but the overall picture is fairly clear, if you understand cycles. The human race has been through this cycle many, many times before. We’re like hamsters in a gigantic financial wheel. And we never seem to learn from our mistakes; we don’t pay attention to history.

At the end of each revolution of the wheel, there’s usually a real revolution, complete with civil wars, pandemics, and sometimes a rebirth of the entire economic system.

These cycles are longer than a human life, and so we have no personal experience to guide us. We need to pay attention and learn from the past as well as understand how it repeats on a regular basis and in a timeframe that’s predictable.

In this article, I’ll review the bigger picture of how these long cycles determine the ups and downs of civilizations and then review one cycle of 172 years to provide an example. I think you’ll find that events from centuries ago form a pattern that is quite similar to what we’re experiencing today.

If you want to know the future, study the past.

In other words:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9


The Big Picture

Natural climate cycles play a major role in just about everything that happens on our planet. Contrary to recent global warming hysteria, the temperature of the atmosphere on Earth is determined by the Solar System. Both temperature and rainfall play out in reasonably predictable patterns (cycles). The definition of a cycle is that it recurs at regular intervals.

The data above comes from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration—from the Greenland Ice Core Research project ending in 1992. Ice cores are an extremely accurate method of determining temperature back through the centuries. This data is undisputed by the scientific community, but has been suppressed by the UN-associated, man-made warming advocates. It also reinforces the findings of Dr. Raymond Wheeler in his research over fifty years earlier of tree ring data, weather records, military records, locust plagues, historical chronicles, sunspot records, etc.

What the above chart shows is the temperature cycles (blue line) over the past 4,000 years. Each time there’s a temperature peak (red arrows), a major civilization also peaks and then goes into contraction. This has happened over and over again throughout recorded history.

The gaps between the red arrows are approximately 1,000 years in length. Certain world events take place at predictable points along this 1030 year cycle peak spectrum. “JC1” refers to Julius Caesar, “JC2” to Jesus Christ and the start of Christianity. Note that the Islamic religion also began at a climate peak, around A.D. 600 (Muhammad). Many events have a level of predicability.

International wars always take place as the climate warms and there is abundance, while civil wars happen on the downswing, in difficult financial times.

The circle on the above diagram highlights a period between 1148 and 1320 AD, which I’ll use as an example of how a typical 172 year cycle unfolds.

History Rhymes. If you want to know the future, study the past.

Every 172 years, there is a major financial collapse, a key component of what I refer to as “The Financial Collapse Cycle.” These 172 year cycles follow a similar pattern, which has been apparent in all the cycles from 1148 through to the cycle top we’re in now (2018). It’s likely this has been the case since the ancient Egyptian dynasties of thousands of years ago, but the data becomes more difficult to source the further back in time that we travel.

This chart above shows the cyclical nature of inflation. It rises during the cycle, but collapses into deflation at the end.

After each deflationary period prices stabilize again. Gradually inflation increases until, near the end of the cycle, it takes on a life of its own. Prices always rise but wages don’t. Eventually the population is squeezed into poverty We continually run into the same situation we have today, leading to an inflationary bubble and eventually, a financial crash, resulting in deflation.

The red arrows show the inflationary peaks that coincide with the natural 172 year cycle tops.

In my research, it’s become obvious that these 172 year cycles align with the movement of the planets of our solar system, more specifically, the conjunction (alignment) of Uranus and Neptune every 171.4 years. Fourteen years after each Uranus-Neptune alignment, there has been a financial collapse, from the 1148 cycle high right up to 2007. I’m currently researching earlier cycle tops, but the data starts to become sparser the further back you go.

My research, which includes the independent work of others, shows these financial collapses occur at regular 172 year cycles, every third cycle (515 years) more devastating We call the 515 year cycles “Civilization Cycles”:

  • 1320 — The Siena world bank crash in 1298, followed by the Florentine banking collapse (various banks crashed from 1302 through 1346. Medieval Europe came to the edge of disaster. Volatile climate usually accompanies these cycle tops, with the years 1315-18 ushering in one of the largest famines in history. In 1348, the Black Death set in and in three years, wiped out almost 50% of the population of Europe.
  • 1492 — During the last quarter of the 15th century, the cost of living rose to extremely high levels. In 1492, Lorenzo de Medici suddenly died and the mood in Florence, Italy turned dramatically. The turn was marked by the Burning of the Vanities in Florence in 1497 when great books, paintings, and musical instruments from the Renaissance were burned in a huge bonfire. The economy failed, riots developed. Famine was followed by epidemic disease.
  • 1664(also a 515 year Civilization Cycle) The great bull market that had begun in England in 1503 came to a top in 1662. An 89 year bear market followed with a deflationary spiral that affected the European continent, as well. Revolutions had already broken out in virtually every country in Europe. The Great Fire of London gutted the city in 1666. The bubonic plague had laid waste to the city and countryside the year before.
  • 1835 — The financial crash came a little early in this cycle, topping in 1811. By 1812, more than half of English families were dependent on some sort of relief program for the poor. The Napoleonic wars began at this time and Europe also suffered the most severe weather period in its history in 1816 (and surrounding years). It all culminated in the Panic of 1837 with another major stock market crash that began a bear market and depression that lasted almost to the end of the century. Cholera epidemics from 1829-51 wiped out hundreds of thousands of people.
  • 2007 — The Great Recession, which is just the precursor to a larger depression yet to unravel during 2018. The economy has only been kept aloft in superficial manner by central banks, but governments are reeling in debt as a result of the greatest financial bubble in history. Central banks have been able to inflate and keep the stock market afloat for nine additional years, but expect a final top this year (2018). The World Health Organization is already warning about the increased risk from pandemics.

All these cycles have unfolded in a similar manner. As Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.”

And of course, the most famous quote:

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana


The 172 Cycle of 1148 – 1320

Below is a chart (click to enlarge) of an early 172 climate cycle (1148-1320) showing temperature and rainfall for the period, based upon the work of Dr. Raymond H. Wheeler, who spent much of his life documenting climate from 600 BC up to the present time (about 1940, as he died in the early 60’s). He also recorded major events across a wide spectrum of fields.

He immediately noticed a  correlation between the events and climate, and certain cycles appeared that were indisputable, as they were periodic (they happened over and over again in a specific timeframe. He identified climate cycles of 25, 100, 170, 100, and 1,000 years.

At temperature and rainfall highs, civilizations peak. As the temperature turns colder, the economy falters, there’s often extreme weather, resulting famine, a population reduction, and a following pandemic. This pattern seems to play out for each and every cycle.

Dr. Raymond Wheeler sums up these cycle tops:

“As the warm-wet phases terminates, climate becomes drier and hotter. As it does, other phenomena manifest themselves: creativity declines; reaction and decadence set in; governments become despotic; minorities are persecuted; general health declines along with the birth rate; economic systems collapse; socialistic and communistic regimes rise under an epidemic of dictators; individual freedoms vanish; and the moral tone and society reaches a low level. Toward the end of this period comes another series of wars we call nation-falling wars because many of the governments initiating them during this period are either tottering or about to collapse internally. These particularly savage conflicts occur on falling temperature and a rising rainfall curve.”

As it turns colder, reinvigorated populations revolt against tyrannic governments. Civil wars break out and gradually, there is a move back towards democracy.

For example in the period above, King Henry II of England greatly expanded the role of royal justice in England by establishing trial by jury and is generally considered to have set the basis for English Common Law. In 1215, King John signed the Magna Carta which promised swift justice and protection from unjust feudal payments. In the cold 1260s, there was a rebellion of barons and Henry III was forced to create the Oxford Parliament. The French national assembly (the Estates-General) was established in 1302. Democracy always moves forward during cold-dry times.

Each 172 year cycle has a “golden age,” which aligns with a warm-wet period. Scholasticism (a method of critical thought) arose and dominate teaching in universities. This period boasts Thomas Aquinas, the proliferation of cathedrals, the amazing Mongolian empire of Genghis Khan, and the English philosopher, Roger Bacon.

These 172 cycles always end badly, however. In 1314, the weather suddenly turned cold and very wet. Crops rotted in the fields. The spring of 1315 brought heavy rains again throughout Europe. The price of wheat rose eight-fold. Famine set in as never before. The economy disintegrated. Unbelievably, torrential rains came again in 1316. The crop failed for a third year in a row.

It’s estimated that a tenth of the population of Europe perished during 1315/16. Famine, epidemics, and oppression were followed by increases in crime. Bloody conflicts broke out between European countries. Uprisings began in England, Italy, and Sweden.

At the same time, the rich grew richer as the poor grew poorer. Inflation continued to cause prices to rise. In 1298, a banking panic arose in Siena, Italy, the financial capital of Europe. In 1307, it’s greatest bank, The Gran Tavola, failed.

The city of Florence picked up where Siena left off. The Florentine banks made huge loans to the kings of England and Naples. In 1302, the first bank went under, and over the next 40 years, all the rest failed.

In 1347, the Black Death established itself across Sicily and spread to Africa, and the mainland of Europe. Tens of thousands died. By the time it was all over, it’s estimated that Europe lost between 25-40 percent of the population.

A long cold-dry period set in for a hundred years; it led to the death of medieval civilization.

These cycles are all very similar in nature. You’ll find a four stage summary below. You’ll likely see a lot of similarities to the world we live in today. It’s already starting to get colder; we are swimming in debt, the disparity in wealth is at an all time high, and the stock market is at the top of the largest bubble in history.

Inflation During a 172 Year Cycle

This chart from “The Great Wave,” by David Hackett Fischer shows the rise of inflation to a crescendo right at the year 1320, the theoretical top of this cycle. You can see how it starts slowly in the early part of the cycle and then gains speed as time marches on, only to crest and crash at the end. It’s always followed by an extended period of price deflation and depression.


The Four Stages of a 172 Year Cycle

Following are the stages of a 172 year cycle. See if you recognize any similarities to the world we live in today.

Stage One

The first stage after a crisis and financial collapse begins slowly. After a period of spiralling deflation, prices stabilize and then very gradually begin to rise to a plateau that continues for some time. Food and fuel tend to increase ahead of anything else. The initial rise in inflation is a result of population increases, which leads to a higher demand for goods and services. Living standards begin to rise. Couples marry earlier and have more children. Civil wars stop and social confidence and optimism return.

This leads to a “golden age” in every 172 cycle:

  • 12th century — Renaissance
  • 15th century — Italian Renaissance
  • early 18th century — The Enlightenment
  • late 19th century — Victorian era

Stage Two

Inflation continues, with prices beginning to accelerate above the previous plateau. Government wealth increases, sparking political hubris, which leads to empire-building and wars of expansion. Examples:

  • 13th century — rivalry between emperors and popes (gov’t vs. the church)
  • 15th century — state-building
  • 18th century — dynastic and imperial struggles
  • 20th century — world wars

Prices become volatile, rising and falling, a signal in underlying instability. This results in political disorder, social disruption, and a general mood of cultural anxiety

Stage Three

In the third stage, the general population comes to see inflation as the norm. People began to make choices that only exacerbates the situation and causes inflation to increase. Governments increase the money supply, only to add to inflation (like a snowball slowly rolling down a mountainside).

Stage Four

Prices continue higher and gradually became unstable with increased volatility. Commodities fluctuate wildly and prices begin to fall. The money supply is expanded and then reduced with financial markets becoming unstable. Governments increase spending and go heavily into debt. The strongest nation-states are the ones to eventually suffer the most due to fiscal constraints:

  • 16th century —Spain
  • 18th century — France
  • 20th century — United States

Real wages begin to stagnate. The rich grow richer; the poor grow poorer. The middle class are hit hard and the standard of living drops. Crime and violence rise, as does the use of drugs and alcohol, and the family unit begins to fail.

If you pay attention, you can see the changes throughout society and culture. Music becomes dark, as does literature. Sects and cults arise as people search for truth. Anger generally rises through all levels of society. Young people, losing hope, become alienated and drift to the edges of society.

The Crisis Crests

Finally, the cycle crests. Population dramatically decreases amid economic collapse and the rise of pandemics. Prices fall hard, along with rents, and interest. Spiralling deflation sets in. Prices stabilize for a short time before declining further. Governments and banks fail and civil war and revolution break out.

Eventually, prices hit a bottom and began to stabilize, wages began to rise in real dollars (money in a deflationary environment rises in value, while asset prices are depressed). Times begin to improve for laborers, artisans, and ordinary people. Families grow stronger and crime begins to subside. The use of drugs and alcohol decreases. Democracy begins to strengthen and freedom generally increases.

A new cycle is underway.

This pattern unfolds in the same manner throughout each 172 year cycle.

The most recent cycle top was in 2007, when we began the so-called Great Recession. The only reason it didn’t culminate in an even greater depression was due to central banks buying mortgages and injecting vast quantities of money into the financial system (in other words, banks). Central banks also lowered interest rates in an attempt to re-inflate. It always fails.

The problem with lowering interest rates is that this is how banks make money. Because the economy hasn’t been strong, there haven’t been high demands for loans for either housing, or corporate financing. As a result, banks are not doing well. If there’s a spate of mortgage failures, which there’s bound to be, banks will have “nowhere to hide.”

Once the banking system and stock market collapse, virtually everything else is going to go with it. This is what happens in the crisis stage of 172 year cycles. It’s happened in every cycle since there’s been an economy of any size. You can cheat Mother Nature for a short time, but she always wins in the end.



  • The Great Wave — David Hackett Fischer
  • Secular Cycles — Peter Turchin and Sergey A. Nefedov
  • Climate: The Key to Understanding Business Cycles (Wheeler) — Michael Zahorchak
  • The Unified Cycle Theory — Stephen J. Puetz
Similar articles by category: climate, financial
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • tom russo April 17, 2018, 4:59 am

    outstanding, gann would be proud of your work

    • Peter Temple April 17, 2018, 6:45 am

      Thanks. It’s simply putting the work of a few tireless researchers together … but still much more to do.

  • Willem April 18, 2018, 3:50 am

    Hi Peter,
    what a well-founded story. It confirms things that I have encountered in the past 15 years, but now related to each other. Super! I am going to send a link to my Dutch acquaintances.

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