Jews not only monopolized money-lending prior to the fourteenth century, when Christian prohibitions against usury broke down.  The dispersion of Jews throughout the know world, east and west, also gave them international advantages in global trade and finance because family and tribal linkages were maintained on an international scale.  The earliest terrible pogroms against the Jews occurred in northern Europe after the year 1000, the year of the “millennium,” when Christians (but not the Jews) believed the world would come to an end with the second coming of Christ.  As the year approached, more and more Christians tended to become debtors and Jews creditors, Christians naturally believing they would not have to pay off loans after 1000.  Additionally, Christians tended to give their wealth to the church, hoping to secure favorable positions in the afterlife, while Jews continued to pass their wealth on to their children.  When the world did not end in 1000 A.D., economic tensions were inevitable, and for the following three centuries Jews were slaughtered throughout Europe in Crusades and pogroms.

The fact that the Jews throughout the ages have been a mighty force behind the expansiveness of the global economy has in no small way contributed to their survival.  In no less a way has this Jewish instinct for survival through promotion of general economic growth  contributed to the survival of Christianity, as in the Middle Ages.  For while Christianity is not intrinsically biased on the economic issue, neither does it provide a counterforce.  In other words, during contraction the Christian impulse is wholly redistributive, which does nothing to arrest the contraction and turn the economy once again toward expansion.

From The Way the World Works by Jude Wanniski