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Showing posts from June, 2011

Austrians Remove the Burden of Fear

Bad ideas are sometimes the hardest to de-throne.It’s probably accurate to say most people think of money as the paper currency printed by governments.And it is money in the sense that it functions as a medium of exchange, but is it sound, is it vulnerable to inflation?Its very existence is evidence that it is, so why are so many people reluctant to switch to a money that isn’t?
There any many myths surrounding hard money currencies, and one of them is that money, both its nature and supply, is best left to the alleged guardian of our rights, the state.The fact that money came into existence on the market and its ultimate form and supply were determined by economic law, is disregarded.Money matters belong to the state, because the state, unlike the rest of us, is in a position to remove itself from market discipline.Since the state is necessary to our survival, the story goes, it cannot do its job unless it can control the growth of money.Money therefore must be of such a nature that i…

Who said it, when and where?

Over the years I've accumulated a long list of quotes about money and banking extracted from online articles and books I've read.  Unlike most other sites that post pithy remarks from famous authors, I include hyperlinks to their sources, so that anyone who wishes can not only verify a quote but, perhaps more importantly, read the context in which it was used.  And unlike other sites, most of these quotes originated with today's financial writers and economists, writing from a perspective consistent with Austrian School principles -- people like Peter Schiff, Lew Rockwell, Steve Saville, Joseph Salerno, Gary North, Edwin Vieira, Judy Shelton, Frank Shostak, Ron Paul, and others, even Alan Greenspan.  What these writers have in common is their respect for a market-sponsored commodity money, traditionally gold and silver coins.

My purpose in publishing these hyperlinked quotes is to draw attention to the vast literature of criticism that has arisen over the money and banking…

From "golden fetters" to handcuffed investors

"The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves." - Alan Greenspan, 1966

An NBER working paper by Carmen Reinhart and Belen Sbrancia describes how Western governments in the post-world war economies unloaded their debts on credulous citizens through a policy of financial repression.  Because it is politically palatable (as opposed to outright default, hyperinflation, or overt tax increases) some analysts expect governments to try it again.  One part of it - inflation - is already well-underway.  Financial repression means savers (investors) will be forced to pay leviathan's debts, whether they like it or not.

The particulars of financial repression vary, but the general scheme is this: Using its power to violate private property rights, the government makes the domestic investment community a "captive audience."  With central bank cooperation it mandates low nominal interest ra…

The Fed and gas prices

Last week Austrian economist Robert Murphy testified before Congress on the Fed's role in raising gasoline prices.  Here is part of what he had to say:

After hitting record highs in the summer of 2008, the price of crude oil crashed amidst the financial crisis and slowdown in world economic growth. After hitting a low of $33.87 per barrel on December 19, 2008, the benchmark price of a Cushing oil futures contract had risen to $96.91 by May 17, 2011. . .

There are two main routes through which Fed policy could have influenced oil prices (quoted in dollars). First, the Fed could have caused the dollar to depreciate against other currencies. Second, the Fed could have raised the price of oil relative to most other goods and services. In the remainder of this written testimony, I will first lay out the extraordinary interventions of the Federal Reserve in the wake of the financial crisis, and then turn to each of the two possible connections to oil prices.


The Extraordinary Intervent…