Sunday, November 30, 2008

Comparing Keynes and the Austrians


First let us note that we labor under the ideology of the Keynesian school of economics. John Maynard Keynes is the system’s namesake and is the "highly revered" economist and intellectual who is credited with bestowing on us our current system.

We begin by comparing two facets of the Keynesian school of thought to the Austrian school of thought. Our first item involves the respective views of the “crisis”.

In the Keynesian view the current crisis should never occur because the central banking system, i.e. The Federal Reserve System, has the sophisticated tools necessary to prevent any such crisis from occurring. Consider Bernanke’s recent comments about the control the Fed has over the economy.
“Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”

(Ben Bernanke, “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here” [Remarks before the National Economists Club, Washington, D.C., 21 November 2002])

And when things do break, the apologists have been trained to suggest that it would really be worse if the Fed hadn’t saved us.

“David Henderson and Jeff Hummel have managed to ruffle quite a few Austrian feathers with their recent Cato briefing paper, and no wonder: that paper claims not only that Alan Greenspan's Fed was innocent of any role in encouraging the housing boom but that Greenspan had actually managed to do something Austrian monetary economists have long claimed to be impossible, namely, solve the monetary-central-planning problem. Greenspan, by their assessment, managed to mimic the kind of money-demand accommodating money supply growth that would occur under free banking, thereby achieving (according to their paper's executive summary) ‘a striking dampening of the business cycle.’”


Guilty as Charged Mises Daily Article by George A. Selgin

Never mind the factors which systemically dampen the business cycle like JIT inventory, changing ratios of non-cyclical sectors in the broader economy, and foreign trade and dollar holdings. Any dampening of the business cycle is because of the stellar performance of the Fed, or so we are told.

Fundamentally the Keynesian view says there should not be any more business cycles and those in the past were caused by the Fed having inadequate “tools” to prevent the crisis. The answer has always been more power in the hands of the Fed.

The Austrian view, on the other hand, predicts, explains and offers solutions to the Business Cycle.

The Austrian view recognizes that Fractional and Fiat money, enjoying legal monopoly through the coercive power of government, causes money to be unrealistically cheap. Cheap money leads to malinvestment because the signal given by abundant, low cost money is that there are real savings present which will sustain longer term or lower margin investments. Because creating Fiat or Fractional money ex nihilo is not the same as creating real savings, the investments are overpriced and are not sustainable. In addition, the explanation shows how and why the cheap money primarily affects capital goods.

The solution involves several components, but in simplest form, one could say the Austrian view is that natural money as private property without government intervention essentially solves the problem.

Now we move on to our second comparison.

The Keynesian view begins with the primacy of the state and therefore seeks to justify state action, thereby rendering a fragmented and conflicting series of economic models. Suffice it to say; when one needs to justify actions in any context, something is amiss. In addition, the lack of a single, unified economic model suggests that earning the accolade of being a credible “school of thought” should be out of reach. Instead Keynesianism is glorified. Such is the world in which we live…

The Austrian view, on the other hand, begins with the primacy of the individual in economic and social affairs. As such, the effort is made to observe and seek an accurate and true explanation of economics and related social order. The result is a single, unified economic model at its core.

Foundations of Thought

On one hand there is Keynes who says the business cycle should never exist because the central bank has the "tools" to prevent a crisis and in all cases Keynesians begin by justifying state actions.

On the other hand there are the Austrians who predict, explain, and resolve the business cycle and, with a unified core model, rigorously explain specific realities of economic and social order.

Who should we believe?

The Keynesian school of thought which is constantly out of line with reality and is clearly destructive to liberty and private property?

Or the Austrian school of thought which matches reality and identifies principles which protect liberty and property...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Br'er Rabbit


The stories of Br'er Rabbit are said to trace back to Cherokee Indian myths. The stories illustrate types of behavior we observe in people.

In one story Br'er Fox has captured Br'er Rabbit with a Tar Baby as a trap.

The Tar Baby is a doll covered in sticky tar that Br'er Rabbit gets tangled up with. When Br'er Fox comes out of hiding to gloat over his capture of Br'er Rabbit, he begins thinking of the things he can do to Br'er Rabbit. The stories include a variety of different possibilities ranging from hanging the poor old rabbit to roasting him for dinner.

Now we get to the point of the story which interests us.

Caught in the tar trap, Br'er Rabbit says "You can roast me, hang me, skin me, do anything at all, but PLEASE don't throw me in the briar patch!"

Well the fox wants to do the worst thing he possibly can to this wily, aggravating old rabbit, so Br'er Fox throws Br'er Rabbit right into the briar patch. And then silence...

But soon Br'er Rabbit is seen sitting up the hill on a log, cleaning the sticky tar out of his fur and smiling.

"I was born and bred in the briar patch!" said the sly old rabbit.

Briar Patch and Government Regulation

We have a tendency to think of Government Regulation as being bad for big business because we believe regulations keep them in check. We are told regulations punish big business when they operate "unfairly".

Br'er Rabbit and Big Business

Br'er Rabbit was "bred and born; born and bred" in the briar patch.

The briar patch provided a home and protection to the rabbit and his ancestors.

Regulation provides a home and protection to Big Business and its ancestors.

Br'er Fox, do anything to Br'er Rabbit, but PLEASE don't throw me in the briar patch!

Br'er Citizen, do anything to Br'er Business, but PLEASE don't Regulate me!

Greed and Control

Remember that for large corporations, Regulation is CHEAPER and more PROFITABLE than Competition.

Regulation is a tool used by those at the top of the economic system to reward favored corporations and punish troublesome corporations.

Small business and the consumers pay the price for these elite games. Consumers are rewarded with higher prices and lower quality services. Small business finds increasingly large barriers to entry in the marketplace.

In the end, regulation protects and benefits large corporations and powerful people, while harming citizens. Both consumers and small business are harmed by the very regulation that benefits big business; which is exactly opposite to what we are told.

Regulation to big business is like Br'er Rabbit in the Briar Patch!

They love it!!!

It is their home.

It provides them the protection to which they owe their very existence.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh, he's one of those


So I was talking to a friend this morning. I'll refer to him as John.

We talked about the money issue in the context of What else have we lost?. It turns out John and his girlfriend were talking about the same idea Thursday night. In our generation, John comes closer than anyone I know in working toward and desiring to preserve family as a community, much like the family units that built our nation.

As we talked, John mentioned a previous introduction he had to monetary issues and stories about the Federal Reserve and Jekyll Island. When John first heard about the subject from an acquaintance, John's initial response was "Oh, he's one of those".

Even so, John was intrigued enough to go and begin to do some research on his own. John discovered that what was being said about the Fed and money seemed to be true. However, he wasn't going to spend his time learning all about the Fed; after all, he has too much to do and we can't do anything about it anyway.

What does this brief conversation illustrate?

Let's think about the comments noted herein.

Oh, he's one of those...

Something, call it what you will, within our society teaches us to respond in a certain way to stories about money, the Federal Reserve and political power. We are taught to consider people who hold negative views about these subjects as crack-pots, whackos and fringe thinkers. Oh, he's one of those...

Remember, only a lie needs protection; the truth can stand on its own.

Some so-called "crack-pots" hold the view that the Federal Reserve System is a fraud. Why would a person holding such views come under ad hominem attacks, rather than having their positions responded to objectively? If their words and ideas are false, illustrate the error.

Don't call them names. Refute their arguments.

An honest scholarly analysis will reveal that arguments used in defense of a Keynesian economic model are absurd. Not only do economists, politicians and media types take these absurd arguments seriously, this is the system we labor under today.

When one points out objective flaws in the Keynesian model, the speaker's reward is marginalization and character assassination.

Think about what is happening.

Remember the $700 billion dollar bailout? Will that cause a wealth transfer? We all know it will. And the same thing happens incrementally everyday that we use costless fiat and fractional money. We have done this for nearly 100 years with our present central bank.

When inflating with costless money, the purpose of inflation is to use NEW MONEY to purchase REAL ASSETS at OLD PRICES, thereby causing a wealth transfer from the people who get the new money last, toward the people who get the new money first. - Shane Coley

How is it that we can see this pillaging so clearly, and yet when someone points it out and claims that the theft is intentional, we fall in line with the conditioners (which CS Lewis talked about in the 1940's) and say "Oh, he's one of those..."?

Our monetary system is Keynesian and Keynes wrote about the destructive effect of inflation at least as early as 1919.

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some… Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes, 1919

I don't have time...

I agree that the typical citizen should not have to set aside large chunks of work time and family time and rest time to do exhaustive research about our monetary system, or any other issue for that matter. However, the reality today is that we will soon lose our remaining freedoms unless specific hidden knowledge is converted to common knowledge.

The protestant Bible points out in Hosea 4:6a My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

What citizens need to know about our monetary system is not complex; it is hidden. The truth about our monetary system has been intentionally hidden because the whole fraudulent game will end the day people understand they have been robbed, pillaged and used.

If the knowledge is not intentionally hidden and obscured, why didn't the Fed protest make the major news? Who is the media answering to?

We can't do anything about it anyway...

When John pointed out that we can't do anything about it anyway, my response to John was this: "Sure we can do something about it. We already have three times in the past."

John said: "But not here...?"

And I said: "Yes here. We have stopped the reauthorization of three central banks, which each began with twenty year charters. One existed before the constitution and two after."

John's response? He was optimistic! I could hear in his voice the belief that maybe there is something we can do about this problem after all.

What do we do?

As soon as possible, we need to abolish the Fed, return to private sound money and eliminate fractional reserve banking.

But today, every citizen needs to learn the truth and spread the knowledge. We are being robbed. Let's work together to tell all the people the truth and then see what happens next.

Don't be conditioned and brainwashed into the belief that the Fed is our savior, banks are innocent and greedy business people caused all our problems. Such propaganda is just simply not true.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

End The Fed - November 22 2008


You all saw the news last Saturday and in the days leading up to the major nationwide protest to End the Fed, right?

This protest in 39 cities across the nation was planned for months. This is the kind of civil unrest the major media search for to make exciting news and inform the public of critical issues, right?

You mean you didn't hear about this giant rally and protest?

Regardless of how you feel about the Federal Reserve System, why would this nationwide event not make the major news coverage?

Maybe the economy is not a front-burner issue these days... People have other things on their mind... The media wants to focus on things that we are interested in now. It's not like we have seen trillions of dollars evaporate from the retirement and investments of most US citizens and many people around the world.

Talking about the End The Fed rally

News about the End the Fed rally

Anthony Gregory's rally day speech This is an excellent read.

End The Fed

What else have we lost?


Today is Thanksgiving Day and I have the great privilege and pleasure of being in South Georgia with family. I am thankful for many things that are easy to be thankful for. I try to be thankful in all things, in accordance with the teaching of my Christian faith.

During the critical coffee cup selection process this morning I found a cup decorated with a Norman Rockwell image. The scene is of a father and son with fishing gear standing in front of the door to a business. Dad is hanging a sign that says "GONE on BUSINESS"; and one can cipher "will return tomorrow". Dad is happy to hang the sign and go, while the son peeks around a corner in delight as they "sneak off" to fish.

Andy Griffeth comes to mind. And then I remember talk of the days when neighbors would regularly, commonly, often visit on Sunday or raise a barn together. People had time for other things in life than work and a "schedule".

But today, one of my dearest young friends, barely in her twenties, tells me she would be lost without her Blackberry calendar.

What changed?

As I recall from memory, in 1910 about 70% of all business expansion was self-funded. In those days the monetary system allowed a business to save for its own expansion.

After 1913 this steadily became impossible. A business could not compete without debt funded expansion. Cheap credit made debt cheaper than savings for expansion. In fact, if one saved, inflation would destroy one's wealth faster than any interest that was earned and your competitor would use debt to encroach on your market share while you saved...

Someone will say; "so invest in the stock market for better returns..."

But the stock market is a scam, unless one takes the view that having "wealth on paper" is the same as having real property. As we have seen clearly (once again) in the past few weeks, "wealth on paper" can disappear in a flash.

Even if the economy were healthy, what would happen if everyone decided to "cash out" on the same day? The whole system would collapse and most people would get pennies on their dollar (which is only worth about two pennies to begin with) if they were lucky.

Meaning in this context

Because business and individuals have been put in a position in which spending is believed to be cheaper than saving, and because saving provides negligible returns, we have become a debtor society. Remember Bernanke stated plainly that a determined government could, in effect, force people to spend rather than save by forcing higher inflation through government deficit spending:

We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.

Ben Bernanke, “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here” Remarks before the National Economists Club, Washington, D.C., 21 November 2002

To the point

Not only does our monetary system cause a literal and actual wealth transfer through the process of inflation, it also reconfigures the use and application of factors of production. In other words, what is "valuable" in a system which relies on ever increasing levels of debt, is different than what is "valuable" in a sound money system.

We will leave illustrating the cause and effect for another day and go straight to the claim.

In our false prosperity economy there is no time for the typical US citizen to slow down and enjoy friends, family and fishing.

Someone may think of golf or video games or our entertainment flooded society. Perhaps even leisure time and vacations.

However, the picture is not complete unless we think about how burned out we feel when we vacate. Who is paying for the leisure and the entertainment? What is not paid for in its place? What about the tenuous (at best) condition of our "savings" and "investments" and "retirement"?

As a nation, is our leisure usually cash or credit?

In other words what is the real cost of the "leisure" we consume?

How leisurely is what we do for entertainment? Is our entertainment typically edifying or destructive? Do kids go and consume entertainment when they would be better off and more healthy to have productive chores to do? Or to spend time with friends and a fishing pole?

We have lost our quality time. We have lost simple things, simple times, time for family, fishing, and growing old within a community. We have lost the opportunity to really enjoy each other and the world around us. We have lost relationships and friendships.

As a nation, we have debt instead of savings. Our "retirement" and "wealth" are at the mercy of a system that will fail.

We have little real wealth. What we seem to own requires our continuing participation in the system or we lose "our" property; for example, we must pay property taxes or the government will confiscate our property. Based on law and regulation, the government is the senior controlling partner in anything we own.

If we rest, we lose.

What else have we lost?

The Federal Reserve System and our complicit government has stolen our property and has stolen our quality time with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Philadelphia Fed Policy Forum


Let us be clear that we are in no way advocating the material presented at this policy forum. However, there are interesting bits of information that can be gleaned. We will begin with the forum description:

The Philadelphia Fed Policy Forum

Fiscal Imbalance: Problems, Solutions, and Implications

December 2, 2005

The fifth annual Philadelphia Fed Policy Forum, "Fiscal Imbalance: Problems, Solutions, and Implications," was held on Friday, December 2, 2005, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The Policy Forum, organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Research Department, brought together a group of highly respected academics, policymakers, and market economists, for a discussion of important macroeconomic and monetary policy issues that the Federal Reserve will need to grapple with in the coming year. The Policy Forum was not intended to be a traditional academic conference on monetary policy, nor a discussion of issues relevant to the next FOMC meeting. Rather, the annual Policy Forum has taken a longer term perspective and has attempted to engage the right people in a discussion of current macroeconomic research and its implications for monetary policy.

Richard Fisher is President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He gave a talk which was summarized by Loretta J. Mester, a representative of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Mester reports that:

Fisher pointed out that monetary policymakers cannot be indifferent to the thrust of fiscal policy because poor fiscal policies create pressure for poor monetary policies, e.g., monetizing the debt and fueling inflation. But he emphasized that the solution to the fiscal imbalance rests with fiscal policymakers and not the central bank.

First we see in these comments that when the government spends money it doesn't have, new money is printed, which is inflation. The process of inflation, as illustrated in the Five Guys Analogy, is designed to cause a hidden wealth transfer and, as Lenin noted, is effective in destroying the social fabric of a nation.

Most importantly, as I observed in Fundamentals and Accountability, the bankers, media and government assure us it is never the central banker's fault.

Fiscal Imbalance

Kent Smetters gave a talk at the forum. I found one slide regarding our $63 trillion dollar fiscal imbalance particularly interesting.

“Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: An Update”
Kent A. Smetters, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

PowerPoint Presentation

Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: An Update


The PPT notes add the following clarification: [Confiscate all capital assets including] All stocks, bonds, companies, building, homes, cars, and even consumer durables such as your dishwasher

Summary

Therefore, we are expected to believe that the Federal Reserve Bank, who actually issues the currency, is in no way at fault for creating the disaster we are watching unfold in our economy.

We are also supposed to have confidence in a system that, according to the experts, the government could not pay for even if it confiscated everything we own.

Think about what is being said. The government would not be able to pay the citizens of the United States what it has promised to pay, even if it took everything we owned to make the payment. The government is making promises that government leaders know cannot be kept, to pay bills with your property and your labor.

And most absurd of all, what exactly is the government offering US citizens if it has to confiscate all that we have in order to meet its obligations to those same citizens?

Always remember, the government has no money or property except what it takes from the producers. Government produces nothing. Government wastes more than any private enterprise ever could. We have a monopoly government which promises to use force in order to pay us with our own money and labor.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Its not your money!


Here we have Representative Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) explaining to Neil Cavuto that the bailout funds are not the taxpayers money....

Whose money does he think it is?



What is the goal?


The greatest temporal challenge we face as a nation is our monetary system.

Destruction and Robbery

We labor under a monetary system which is designed to destroy.

Lenin plainly stated that the system we now operate under would end in our destruction as a free society. The Five Guys Analogy illustrates that the process of inflation causes a wealth transfer. Keynes, speaking about Lenin as well as Keynes own views, stated the following:

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some… Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes, 1919

Our nation is being robbed. You are being robbed, or you are robbing others. There is no middle ground. We must understand this as a nation. It is true.

The Printer and the Producer

In terms of money, consider this very simple illustration. We will remove all the middle men and rules in order to have a clear picture of what is happening to us.

Imagine you own a house, which you worked hard all your life to pay for. Let's say it cost $100,000.

Now imagine that you are going to sell that house. There are two buyers who are interested in purchasing your home. One offers you paper money and the other offers you gold.

The paper money is identical to the dollars you use every day, but was printed in the garage of the first buyer the same morning he came over to make an offer.

The gold was mined from the ground and refined by the second buyer. The gold came from property the second buyer worked for and the mining and processing was done using labor and equipment he owned or leased.

To which one will you feel better about handing over your house keys?

Would you sell to the producer or the printer?

If you sell to the printer you are exchanging your labor and productivity for an illusion of value.

If you sell to the producer, you are exchanging labor for labor, productivity for productivity.

Further analysis will follow in another post to illustrate how fractional and fiat money provides for transfer of property into the hands of persons who have no right to the property.

Crisis Pregnancy and Planned Parenthood

Suppose you have a desire to protect unborn children. Maybe you hold the view that those female fetuses, young ladies who are a few days old, also have a right to life. Maybe they should have a choice. The fifth amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Our first property rights are for our own person. It seems that abortion would be illegal based on the fifth amendment, if for no other reason. Surely an unborn baby has broken no law worthy of death.

In any case, suppose you hold the view that abortion is wrong, as I do. If that is the case, then you want to work to protect the unborn.

The current environment we operate under is as follows:

Local Crisis Pregnancy Centers are under-funded and staffed by volunteers. They are strictly limited with regard to presenting the pro-life position in schools.

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood is provided with millions of dollars each year by the government, in order to promote the practice of abortion. They have open doors in the schools. In some places school officials can assist young girls with an abortion without parental notification. Their cause is promoted in the media and by the government.

Best Protection

The most effective action we can take is to cut off their funding and keep our own productivity. In this way the crisis pregnancy centers are strengthened, the propaganda is dramatically decreased and Planned Parenthood will have to raise money based on merit, rather than coercion of the people by government.

So... What is the goal?

Ideally we want to abolish the federal reserve and return to a sound money system. However, that is an enormous obstacle to overcome.

Here is what we can do now: We can tell the truth. We can educate our citizens. We can help people understand what government has done to our money.

Once we do that, let's see what follows. Maybe people will object to being robbed and demand real change.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fiat Money and Growth


One of the arguments for the central banking model is that we "need more money" for a growing economy. This is a popular fallacy which we will consider in greater detail later. In simple terms, if all cars cost $300 or $3,000 or $30,000 or $300,000 why do we care one way or the other, as long as wages have a similar relative value to the car as now?

The "price" of the good and "quantity" of money is meaningless.

What is important is the relative value of goods and labor. Money is simply the common commodity that enables economic calculation. With money one can compare the value of an acre of land and a tractor, for instance. Suppose an acre of land is equivalent in value to one tenth of a tractor. If the land costs $10 and the tractor costs $100 this works just as well as the land costing $10,000 and the tractor costing $100,000. The relative value is unchanged.

In addition, since we know a car in the past cost $3,000 and a car today costs $30,000, we can clearly see that the same good can sell for a higher price in the future. If it can sell for a higher number of monetary units (price) in the future, why not a lower number. It's just math...

In a sound money economy, a car would actually cost less today than in the past. Your money would have greater purchasing power today than 100 years ago or even 20 years ago.

If the idea of printing new money is to make sure everyone has enough, then all prices should have remained stable. But instead prices are much higher. Why?

Since the quantity of money is not important and since we have seen with the Five Guys Analogy that inflation serves no purpose if everyone gets the new money on the same day and since we know that the purpose of inflation is to cause a hidden wealth transfer, we can draw a few simple conclusions.

First recall that in our inflationary monetary system, one is either pillaging or being pillaged. There is no middle ground.

To make the argument that we "need more money" in order to have a healthy, growing economy is to make the following ridiculous argument:

A productive and independent business person just can't make it unless a significant portion of what he produces is stolen from him.

He can never be expected to succeed unless his profit is forcefully taken away from him through the process of inflation; the confiscated money must be used to bury him in regulation, while burdening the workforce and consumer with destructive lies and propaganda, paid for out of their own productivity.

One must never expect an increase in wealth if people are allowed to keep what they earn.


Sounds like a bad idea when one discovers that the architects of this monetary system actually expect us to believe that we will grow wealthy by allowing ourselves to be robbed...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ocean's Eleven


As I listened to the presentations and discussions at the banking conference I diligently worked to sort out what was unfolding before me.

On the one hand, the people who were participating were among the finest, brightest and most reliable people one could find anywhere. These were people of real integrity.

On the other hand, the information that was being presented was logically false at its base and objectively destructive in its effect.

There was an array of technical language, detailed explanations, complex models, rules and systems which were being presented. To hear a person speak on these things can be quite impressive, especially if the listener is Keynesian or generally uninformed.

Thus we have quality people of substantial intellect, who are well credentialed and experienced, explaining the current financial crisis to the audience in a sophisticated manner. What is one to think?

Here is the analogy that came to mind, loose though it may be.

For the reader who has never seen Ocean's Eleven, it is the story of Danny Ocean and his team of ten who plan and execute a $150 million heist from a high security vault in a Las Vegas casino.

Regarding this movie, we could describe in great detail the knowledge of the casino, the gaming regulations, timing, team skill sets, technology, training sessions, staging locations and more.

For example, explaining the workings of technology employed in the heist would make one seem quite brilliant.

Imagine the techno jargon, charts and graphs, meters and gages that could be used to describe the EMP machine that knocked out power to the city.

The same would be true for the technology which enabled interception of video signals and telephone calls being routed through the casino. The list goes on...

As our Ocean’s Eleven presenters explained the nuances of the technology and the system, they would be brilliant and entertaining.

But they are still telling us about a robbery.

The lesson?

Neither the integrity of the person nor mastery of models and terms will make an immoral system become moral. Unfortunately, destruction does not become edifying because nice people speak intelligently about the process.

It is our duty to know and understand that which we support.

Watch Peter Schiff speak truth


Watch Peter Schiff speak truth based on principle.


Five Guys Analogy


As the intent here is to illustrate principles and specific points, simple analogies will be used, studied in extremes. Simple illustrations with locked in variables will be employed. If these views are correct, then more complex models with more variables will provide the same results, given that one has sufficient time and the patience to work through the details.

Here will be presented an illustration in two forms. The first will illustrate what the purpose of inflation is NOT and the second will illustrate what the purpose of inflation is.

Here is a set of facts to work with for this exercise:


  • Imagine a country


  • With exactly five (5) guys



  • Imagine that they each have ten gold coins valued at ten dollars each



  • Imagine that they like using receipt money, so their coins are in a vault




  • $100 each * 5 guys = $500 Total Money Supply


  • Imagine that corn is priced at $1 per bushel



Illustrating what the purpose of inflation is NOT...

In this imaginary world, the five guys have an economic summit on January 1st each year. In year one, they meet and then go about their business. In this simple low velocity economy, each man uses his one hundred dollars in receipt money to purchase 100 bushels of corn.

In year two they meet and decide to “lubricate” their economy so they can be like the neighboring countries. They print an extra one hundred dollars each in receipts, thereby giving each man two hundred dollars.

$200 each * 5 guys = $1000 Total Money Supply





Has the wealth of their nation increased?

The answer is no. The paper is costless and therefore valueless in its own right. The paper references the same gold coins and therefore each receipt is now worth half as much. They still only have $500 in gold in the vault.

Has the value of the corn changed?

The answer is no. The corn has the same nutritional value and other value attributes as it did before someone pressed the “print button.”

Has the price of the corn changed?

The answer is yes. Since the receipts are half as valuable and the corn retains its same value, one now needs to spend two dollars (in terms of inflated receipt money) for each bushel of corn.

How many bushels of corn can each of the five guys purchase with their $200 of old and new receipt money? Corn is $2 a bushel now so they are able to purchase exactly what they could before; 100 bushels of corn. Nothing changed.

Therefore, one can see that inflation serves no purpose if everyone gets the new money on the same day. So what is the purpose of inflation?

Illustrating what the purpose of inflation is...

Let’s begin again with the five guys as at the very beginning. This time on January 2nd in year one, one of the five guys decides to become a beloved central banker. He decides to print an extra $500 in receipt money, place it in the bank and then borrow it.

Has the wealth of their nation increased?

The answer is no. The paper is costless and therefore valueless in its own right. The paper references the same gold coins and therefore each receipt is now worth half as much. They still only have $500 in gold in the vault. Yet in this case, the paper in the other four guy’s pockets lost half of its value; the banker enjoyed an increase in purchasing power at least equal to their loss.

Has the value of the corn changed?

The answer is no. The corn has the same nutritional value and other value attributes as it did before someone pressed the “print button.”

Has the price of the corn changed?

The answer is yes, but not yet. Since the receipts are half as valuable and the corn retains its same value, one now needs to spend two dollars (in terms of inflated receipt money) for each bushel of corn. However, the other four guys do not know about the new money so they continue to trade at the price of $1 per bushel.

Consider how this plays out. The banker has $600 dollars to spend. To keep the math simple, one can assume that the price changes do not occur until the January 1st summit a year from now. The four guys are going to be quiet, but happy, because each thinks that he is making really big money this year as his account swells from $100 to $200, since the banker is purchasing more corn than normal. For the purpose of illustration, it is specified that each of the four guys winds up with $200 dollars and one hundred bushels of corn. The banker, on the other hand comes away with 600 bushels of corn.

At the summit it quickly becomes clear that the banker has inflated the money supply, which halved the value of the dollars already in existence. The farmers should have been selling corn for $2 a bushel and clearly in the upcoming year they will only be able to buy 100 bushels of corn with their $200 dollars.

Since everyone ended up with the same amount of dollars relative to one another, one might conclude there is not really any harm done, but that conclusion would be wrong. Remember that the banker now has 600 bushels of corn when he should only have 100 bushels.

So now one can see the purpose of inflation.

When inflating with costless money, the purpose of inflation is to use NEW MONEY to purchase REAL ASSETS at OLD PRICES, thereby causing a wealth transfer from the people who get the new money last, toward the people who get the new money first. - Shane Coley

Observe the illustration closely. Whose money was the banker giving to each of the other four guys when he made his purchases of corn? The banker was actually giving the other four guys their own money back again and taking the fruits of their labor at the same time. What does this mean for those who are members of a society which operates under an inflationary monetary system?

Perhaps these illustrations help explain this popular quote attributed to a past Chairman of the Bank of England from a talk at the University of Texas in 1927:

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fundamentals and Accountability



Much was said during the banking conference about banks and government and GSE’s and Wall Street and rating agencies and the Fed and borrowers and business and greed. The commentary and focus were rather intriguing. Not only did we hear from those in banking and financial planning, but we also heard from the students, and therefore have some sense of how students are integrating the teaching they receive, the leadership that is provided and the news that they consume into an understanding of our present monetary system.

There was a good bit of talk about solutions, greed and accountability. I was struck by the clarity of the propaganda on display.

The government, the FED and GSEs were the heroes. The government made cheap housing available; the GSEs provided long term financing which enabled Savings and Loan operations, and later banks, to keep loaning money to enable the American dream of home ownership. The Fed provided the cash.

The rating agencies were bad because Wall Street was a client and so the agencies received revenue from Wall Street firms. To make matters worse, the agencies were facing increasing competition, and therefore they succumbed to issuing inaccurate ratings for fear of losing business.

Wall Street, of course, is just greedy.

But the real bad guys were the borrowers and businesses who “borrowed money they knew they could not repay.”

Lucky for us, the Government is “working hard” to save us.

Maybe there is a different way of looking at this environment…

Maybe the government imposed regulations that created a regulatory minefield, which worked against the free market. Perhaps positive law like the CRA and its predecessors, forcing banks to loan in increasingly unsustainable ways, is a root cause of the crisis. Could it be that cheap money issued buy the FED causes bubbles, which uniformly create financial disasters, which in turn bankrupt the small banks and hardworking people? While at the same time the FED issues more of the same dollar poison that caused the problem, in order to save the favored banks and businesses?

Is it possible that moral hazard created by the FDIC and the GSEs, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, exacerbated the effect of the poor lending policies? Is it possible that a bank is more willing to transact loans that it knows will be immediately moved off its books, transferring the obligation onto the balance sheets of the GSEs; which actually means transferring onto the balance sheet of the US taxpayer…? Are these genuine moral hazards?

Regarding the rating agencies, supply and demand is a terrible scapegoat to enlist as a cover for ethics violations. If the trusted rating agencies were issuing bad assessments, this is to be blamed on ethics violations, i.e. lies and dishonest business practices, not competition and loss of revenue.

And finally the bad ole borrower… Here he is in an environment that is designed to keep him in debt, and which conveys that the banks are conservative in their lending practices in order to keep from making bad loans and losing money, and which is filled with propaganda that completely deceives him with regard to how money and the system work. Of course Mr. Borrower is not to be completely excused for making bad economic calculations, even though much of the information he receives is secretly rooted in fraud. However, he was drawn into bad transactions through a government policy which all but demanded that banks make loans with no money down, with no proof of income, with no rigorous appraisals, etc. The system set many people up for failure so that now they have neither home nor credit capable of purchasing a home when they may be able to in the future.

In certain obvious cases, such as in describing the lending policies of a small bank which was recently confiscated by the bank regulators, the banks are acknowledged to have made a few bad choices, BUT!! the system works and the government came in and saved the day and not one depositor lost a dime!!

This, of course, raises many questions, but two should be considered now. Why is the government either “saving” or taking over a bank? Why not leave the bank to be purchased on the free market, at a discount reflective of its supposedly poor management? (Is its management poor in fact, or only according to some exaggerated policy superimposed by government?) In addition, it should be noted that the ONLY way for the depositors to “not lose a dime” is for the government to devalue everyone else’s paper money enough to transfer a certain number of fiat dollars back into the hands of the “saved” accounts of the “saved” depositors.

In any case, the only entity that was uniformly instructed to act ethically, consider fundamentals, meet obligations, not over extend, make good decisions, was the small business and the individual borrower. Everyone else was above reproach and not guilty of failure or subject to criticism.

Banking Conference - Introduction


I attended a banking conference last week. The conference and the people will remain unnamed for the following reasons. Many of the ideas presented, by students and professionals alike, are rooted in the reality that the people are trapped in a system which dares anyone to step out of line. The teaching they have received, the workplace they enter and the system in which they labor; all these present, indeed demand defense of a fa├žade which is not founded on truth. Some of the people may understand the truth and yet feel unable to acknowledge it. Others may be under the false impression that what they have been taught is ethical. And, of course, there will be some who know the truth and join in to defend the system because of self interest, benefiting themselves at the hidden expense of other people.

In any case, names will be left out of this discussion because our interest is not to assail or offend, but rather to support those who long for an ethical money system and especially to support those who would desire the same, if they understood that the system we have is quite simply founded on theft and bent on destruction.

I believe that many of those who were present do long for a system that is ethical and edifying, or would, provided they understood our current monetary system is the opposite.

I will simply refer to this event as “the banking conference”.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Inflation & Moral Decay


Another destructive aspect of Inflationary monetary systems is the overall effect on morality. This will in no way be a thorough treatment or even a substantial review. The intent is simply to raise the point.

Consider this Bernanke quote for reference:

We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.

Ben Bernanke, “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here” Remarks before the National Economists Club, Washington, D.C., 21 November 2002

First note that the Federal Reserve actions are linked to "a determined government".

Next we see that this determined government, acting through the Fed, "can always generate higher spending". In other words, the government can use the inflationary monetary system to, in effect, force citizens to spend, rather than save.

Keynesians claim that the key to economic vitality is spending, while Austrian economists contend that the key is savings. Since one would be hard pressed to produce widgets with no production tools and production tools are capital intensive, it makes sense that before a low cost, high quality, efficiently produced good can be made available for purchase, someone had to save enough to build the widgit factory.

In addition, savings is not the destruction of money, it is the deferral of spending. The money simply is held for future purchases. In addition, savings in a sound money economy lowers interest and enables the production of consumption goods in the future.

Enough of that. Effect on morality is the question we are considering.

If a determined government forces consumers to spend (as their only defense to rising prices caused by the government inflating the money supply), then consumers can only buy cheap goods or go in debt to buy before prices rise. In either case, a "consumption economy" is created. The market churns out large volumes of cheap goods that are replaced every few years. Durable goods are not very durable any more.

The virtues of saving and planning are replaced by the vices of irresponsible spending and debt.

This fosters an instant gratification mentality. Because no one looks forward in time considering what can be bought in the future, planning and frugality become a mockery. Because we are trained not to look forward, we certainly lose any grounds for looking back to discover and maintain tradition.

Consider the present conditions in the US. Households and businesses are in deep debt. The family is under assault. Integrity seems to be in decline. Instant fixes to every problem are on the shelf. Morality and frugality are mocked.

Inflation transfers wealth and productivity into the hands of the propagandist. The declining dollar trains people to seek instant gratification and live in perpetual debt. That is more than an unhealthy combination; it is a recipe for disaster.

Inflation as a Tool of War


The prevailing economic thinking that drives policy among the nations of the world, particularly the industrialized nations, is Keynesianism. Perhaps a few of Keynes own words would be instructive.

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some… Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes, 1919

Lew Rockwell explains how the Fed enables war and destruction of liberty. War and Inflation is an excellent article.

War and Inflation by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Monday, November 10, 2008

End the Central Bank


This talk was delivered at the Mises Institute's Supporters Summit, November 1, 2008, Auburn, Alabama.

End the Central Bank

Daily Article by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. Posted on 11/10/2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Federal Reserve System Explained

The Purpose of Inflation


Some forms of increasing a money supply are ethical, while others are not ethical. Here we will offer a few comments and definitions which will help describe key features of an inflationary monetary system.

Inflation

Working definitions of inflation often include reference to money class and ethics of production, in addition to quantity. Here we will offer three definitions of inflation, including the most basic definition possible.

The first definition addresses only the quantity attribute in defining inflation.

Definition 1: Inflation is any increase in a money supply.

The next two definitions of inflation take into account the following three attributes:

  • Money class
  • Relative money quantity between money classes
  • Ethics of money production and use

Definition 2: Inflation is defined as “an extension of the nominal quantity of any medium of exchange beyond the quantity that would have been produced on the free market" - The Ethics of Money Production, Jorg Guido Hulsmann

Definition 3: Inflation is defined as “the process of issuing money beyond any increase in the stock of specie” - (Man, Economy, and State, 3rd ed., 1993, p. 851, Murray Rothbard)

Purpose of Inflation

When inflating with costless money, the purpose of inflation is to use NEW MONEY to purchase REAL ASSETS at OLD PRICES, thereby causing a wealth transfer from the people who get the new money last, toward the people who get the new money first.

In other words inflation is a sophisticated form of ROBBERY made possible by legalized “money” creation ex nihilo.

Sound Money

Sound money is a commodity that is costly to produce and which has been voluntarily accepted by market participants for use in indirect exchange.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

So talk about the other kind of money…


Let's start this way. Which nations have Sound Money?

The short answer is none. To my knowledge there are no nations on the planet which use Sound Money today.

If no one uses Sound Money, what sort of money is in use?

There are 4 basic types of money.
  • Commodity (or natural) money
    • Gold, Silver, Butter [This is Good!]
  • Receipt money
    • Receipt for Gold, Silver, Butter [This is Good!]
  • Fractional money
    • “Checkbook” money. A Bank with $100 in Assets can loan $1000 in “checkbook” money. [This is Bad!!]
  • Fiat money
    • Value is enforced through legal tender laws. No backing. If you need more, just run the printing press. [This is Bad!!]


In simple terms, most nations use FRACTIONAL money in an upside down pyramid on top of FIAT money. This means that FIAT money is considered an “ASSET” in the reserves of a bank.

A bank is required through regulation to hold “ASSET” reserves of 10% (or sometimes less). Therefore if a bank has one million dollars in “RESERVES” the bank can loan to its customers ten million dollars in “FRACTIONAL” money, also called CHECKBOOK money.

Most people are unaware of this fraudulent scheme. At this point one may ask: “So why should I care?”

The short answer is because you are being literally robbed of your property through this system.

(There is one other possibility; the net effect at the end of a period of time is that you are either robbing others or you are being robbed. It makes no difference how much integrity you have or don’t have. We will explain this in another post.)

Supply and Demand

Most of us have heard of the law of supply and demand. Generally we understand this law to explain that as supply increases, price decreases. There are also other attributes to this supply and demand relationship. For example, there are distinctions between charting supply and demand curves, as compared to individual behavior in the market, given variations between supply, demand and price. For our purpose we will stick to a simple definition; i.e. as supply increases, price decreases.

Water

If a man sitting beside a wilderness river in the year 1800 attempted to sell water to travelers, he would be wasting his time. However, if the same man had water that was his private property and his storefront was in the middle of a parched desert, he would have a good prospect of selling water to these same people.

Notice that supply and demand are determined not simply based on “world supply”, but based on available supply, at a specific time and in a specific place, under specific conditions. Water cannot be sold at all by the river. Water can be sold for a potentially unlimited price to a thirsty man in a desert.

Purchasing Power / Supply and Demand

At this point let us note that money is also affected by the law of supply and demand. This is true and can be expressed in different ways. A common way of describing the value of money is PURCHASING POWER. For our example, suppose we know that a car in 1965 cost about $3,000 and today costs about $30,000.

In 1965 $3,000 had enough purchasing power to be exchanged for a new car. In 2008 $3,000 has enough purchasing power to exchange for one tenth of a new car. (Price change is not the whole story of what we have lost, but it will do for our purpose here.)

If the money supply had been stable since 1965 (1965 is an arbitrary date) we would be able to purchase a new car for less than $3,000. There are two basic reasons: 1. The overall increase in products and services would cause prices to go down. 2. The increase in productivity would cause prices to go down.

In other words, in a Sound Money system, if you saved $3,000 from 1965 until 2008 you could purchase a new car and have money left over.

Back to Supply and Demand and Money

What can we conclude from the above comments… based on our simple observations?

We said, in simple terms, that “as supply increases, price decreases.” Then we saw that water can be exchanged for either nothing or perhaps a man’s entire fortune, depending on supply and demand at a particular place and time.

We also saw that our money has lost purchasing power over the years because the money supply has increased.

(Note: This increase in the money supply is called inflation. Our dollar today is worth between two and four pennies compared to a 1933 dollar. Inflation of the money supply is the reason that the Continental notes issued by the Continental Congress became worthless. They flowed in the streets like water in a river and became useless as a store of value for use in exchange.)

So if the supply of money increases (i.e. someone inflates the money supply) then the value of all other money already in existence decreases. This is a simple case of supply and demand.

Increasing the money supply

Therefore, in a fiat system, if someone adds one thousand dollars of money to the money supply, then the rest of the money, held by all the people, will be decreased in value by one thousand dollars.

In a fiat system, if someone instantly doubles the money supply without cost, then the value of all money in existence loses half its value.

But is there a difference between paper and gold; between Mr. FIAT and Mr. COMMODITY? Is there a difference between a Fractional or Fiat money system and a Sound Money system?

If either one of two our men double the money supply in one day, then your old money loses value. He may have just transferred half of your purchasing power into his possession. The only question is whether he worked for the new money.

If this is Mr. FIAT, his money comes into existence because he ran a printer and printed hundred dollar bills for two pennies each; he has stolen half the value from holders of old money. He has contributed essentially nothing in exchange for real assets.

However, if Mr. COMMODITY operates a mine and repairs equipment and pays labor and secures and transports gold, then he has incurred costs while adding the new money to the market. Mr. COMMODITY is then a producer and not a thief. Much more can be said about the relationships between his mining operation and the economy as a whole, but the important point is that he has to produce in order to increase his holdings in money or other property.

Printing houses

Think about it this way: Suppose you were a builder. What if you had to compete with another builder who could simply and literally run a printer to instantly produce exactly the same house that, for you, required time, labor, capital and risk to produce? That is a good picture of our monetary system. Printing equity. Printing assets. Printing labor. Printing houses. The paper money is just a step in the middle.

Theft through costless money

Following are two of my preferred explanations of how we are pillaged:

Creating costless money is robbery because, in the first use after creation, the new money implies an exchange of value, when in fact the exchange would be impossible if not for the law of supply and demand, which guarantees that the value of all the money previously in existence is decreased in an amount equal to the face value of the new money, thereby fraudulently transferring value created by actual productivity into the hands of those who use the new money first. In addition, all early users of the new money enjoy a value advantage during the lag between creation of the new money and upward adjustment of prices in the marketplace.

The purpose of inflation is to use NEW MONEY to purchase REAL ASSETS at OLD PRICES, thereby causing a wealth transfer from the people who get the new money last toward the people who get the new money first.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Sound Money



One may ask, why does sound money matter? Let’s talk about that a little.

When you earn money would you like to keep what you earn? Are you opposed to the idea of people secretly sneaking in your home and stealing what you have earned or been given as a gift?

If you answered yes to those questions, please read on. This will be of interest to you.


Here is a simple definition of sound money:

Sound money is a commodity that is costly to produce and which has been voluntarily accepted by market participants for use in indirect exchange.

Sound money could also be called commodity money or natural money.

So why care about sound money?

Sound money stands as a protector of property rights. In other words, in a sound money economy the money and other property you earn, you get to keep.

Without sound money, the best of your labor and wealth is systematically confiscated, pillaged, stolen… Without sound money, you are robbed, plain and simple.

We will talk more about this subject so that the objective truth of these statements will be clearer to those who are opposed to being pillaged, but don’t have time to study economics in depth.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sound Money



Economics in an unregulated, sound money economy is dirt simple.

Complex formulas and sophisticated knowledge are not required for study and apprehension of economics, but rather these absurd complexities reside only in the domain of policy, regulatory and legal frameworks, which are superimposed by monopoly government on the productive labor of people, resulting precisely in literal theft from productive citizens, for the explicit purpose of siphoning and aggregating resources into the hands of a few, which weakens the people and grants power to the thieves, their private systems and their minions.

No productive labor is exempt and no one can opt out of working specifically for the destruction of what they hold dear, unless they are among the few whose goals are in alignment with the actual and intentional product of our present monetary system. To promote this system is to promote systemic theft and scheduled destruction of nations.