The Greatest Business The World Has Ever Seen
How the Roman Catholic Church was for over a thousand years the dominant economic power in the West
Today we’re accustomed to companies coming and going. Even relatively long-lived organizations span merely a century or two before being replaced by more capable competitors. Most banks date back only a couple of hundred years or less, while the large automobile manufacturers date from the turn of the previous century at best. Food companies likewise stretch back at most a couple of centuries. What’s striking about the modern world is the dominance of relatively young organizations whose histories span mere decades.
Yet it has not always been this way.
For well over a thousand years, the Roman Catholic Church (henceforth RCC for the sake of brevity) was the ultimate case-study in market dominance. It was the wealthiest organization known to human history and its ability to maintain its revenue streams was unsurpassed. It invented the concept of diversification nearly a thousand years before the first edition of the Harvard Business Review rolled off the press, and it ruthlessly suppressed competition in order to ensure it remained unopposed and thus able to enjoy profit margins beyond the dreams of kings and emperors, never mind mere merchants and craftspeople.
This article will examine the various elements that, when combined, enabled the RCC to dominate the economic landscape of Western Europe and then later of South and Central America, for centuries.
The first notable element of the RCC is the perfection of its core product. By definition, the promise of an afterlife ensures that there can be no awkward customer complaints that could require the disbursal of refunds. Once a person is satisfactorily dead, there is precisely zero chance of them submitting a claim for repayment of all the monies remitted to the RCC over the course of the person’s lifetime because it turns out the product is imaginary. As the RCC is thus free of any potential product liability, it has no need for liability insurance, nor any set-asides for future contingencies arising from failure to perform.
The second notable element of the RCC is its extremely low investment in research…