Ludwig von Mises
Monetary policy 'rules' are no more accurate at determining interest rates than meteorologists are at forecasting the weather. The only difference between the two is that weathermen are precise on occasion, whereas the federal funds rate under the Taylor Rule is, at best, less wrong. Setting the price of money and credit in the name of unleashing the economy’s supposed potential output is the equivalent of enacting price controls on milk to unlock its full buying power. It’s a fallacy that cannot be achieved. The sooner the Fed pawns off its printing press, the sooner its market distortions will be lifted; and the sooner that each individual will be able to make rational decisions that make sense for not only himself or herself, but for the economy at large as well.
Brutal news is pouring in from pretty much everywhere. The world, in short, is rolling over. Debt monetization on the scale so far attempted has failed to stop the implosion of tens of trillions of dollars of bad paper, growth has stalled and geopolitics has begun to turmoil. And none of this is a surprise. It’s just what you get when you put monetary printing presses in the hands of governments and/or big banks.
The cries for going totally crazy are growing louder... the lunatics are running the asylum. One shouldn’t underestimate what they are capable of. The only consolation is that the day will come when the monetary cranks will be discredited again (for the umpteenth time). Thereafter it will presumably take a few decades before these ideas will rear their head again (like an especially sturdy weed, the idea that inflationism can promote prosperity seems nigh ineradicable in the long term – it always rises from the ashes again). The bad news is that many of us will probably still be around when the bill for these idiocies will be presented.
The lasting legacy of the First World War has been the rationales and implementations of paternalist Big Government in the Western world, with its diminished recognition and respect for individual liberty, free association, freedom of competitive trade and exchange, reduced civil liberties and weakened impartial rule of law. From this has followed the regulating and redistributing State, which includes political control and manipulation of the monetary and banking systems to serve those in governmental power and others who feed at the trough of governmental largess. It is a legacy that will likely take another century to completely overcome and reverse, if we are able to devise a strategy for restoring the idea and ideal of a society of liberty.
We will be the first to admit that yield curve inversion is not the only factor causing recessions, but through the credit channel it can be an important contributor. Depending on the importance of the credit channel, the Federal Reserve, by pegging the short term rate at zero, have essentially removed one recessionary market mechanism that used to efficiently clear excesses within the financial system. While stability obsessed Keynesians on a quest to the permanent boom regard this as a positive development, the rest of us obviously understand that false stability breeds instability.
Bernie Sanders’s entry into the presidential race has sparked a nationwide conversation about socialism and its potential to remedy the real and perceived pathologies suffered by Americans. The underlying problem with socialists like Bernie Sanders is that they do not actually believe (or understand) in economics at all. As Ludwig von Mises himself has pointed out, socialism is not an economic theory — it is a theory of redistribution.
It is America the Herd that is keeping America the Civilization from feeling and being prosperous and safe. For too long, we have let our rulers ride us roughshod, using us to trample the economy and global tranquility with its economic and military interventions. Make America good again, and the kinds of greatness actually worth having will naturally follow.
Since the economic downturn of 2008, the critics of capitalism have redoubled their efforts to persuade the American people and many others around the world that the system of individual freedom and free enterprise has failed. These critics have insisted that it is unbridled capitalism, set loose on the world, which is the source of all of our personal and society misfortunes. The political and economic crises through which the world suffers is not the crisis or failure of the free market. No, it is the crisis and failure of the interventionist-welfare state, and its anti-free market capitalist ideology.
There are certain ideas and positions all Americans are supposed to believe in and salute. Near the top of the list is equality, an idea for which we are never given a precise definition, but to which everyone is expected to genuflect. A libertarian is perfectly at peace with the universal phenomenon of human difference. He does not wish it away, he does not shake his fist at it, he does not pretend not to notice it. It affords him another opportunity to marvel at a miracle of the market: its ability to incorporate just about anyone into the division of labor... with a place for everyone in the market economy.
In 1949 Einstein published an essay on economics and education that is brimming with ignorance. According to Einstein, "The economic anarchy of capitalist society [is] the real source of evil." Now yet another popular and renowned physicist, namely Stephen Hawkins, has jumped into the debate, seemingly attacking capitalism. According to the Huffington Post, "Stephen Hawking Says We Should Really Be Scared Of Capitalism, Not Robots." While undoubtedly a genius in his field, this is probably also the field he should stick with. There is no reason to worry while at least vestiges of a free market exist. The only real problem is government intervention in the market process.
Governments and their central bank creations usurped market-based monetary and banking systems to serve the plundering purposes of kings, princes, parliaments, and special interest groups who all wanted to hold the magical hand of the monetary printing press. Print up money (or its digital substitutes and surrogates in more modern times) and you can have access to all the hard work of others without the reciprocal effort. The monetary social engineers' century-long legacy in the arena of money and banking has been the booms and busts of the business cycle. The time has come to end the tragic and disruptive reign of monetary central planning.
Baldly stated, the United States government is the greatest danger to peace and freedom the world has ever known. This is true precisely because it has held aloft the torch of liberty for so long, an example to the world of what a society based on individual freedom can achieve. That is the great paradox of American power. As we abandon our libertarian heritage – even as we retain the forms of a constitutional republic – we destroy what made our power possible. The process is reversible: we can restore our old republic – but only if we give up the mirage of empire.
“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”
It is time for a radical denationalization of money, a privatization of the monetary and banking system through a separation of government from money and all forms of financial intermediation. That is the pathway to ending the cycles of booms and busts, and creating the market-based institutional framework for sustainable economic growth and betterment. It is time for monetary freedom to replace the out-of-date belief in government monetary central planning.
Our current monetary system is the root cause of many evils of today. Let’s take war, a topic we discussed in this article, as an example. Without a monetary system that creates currency out of thin air, most of the wars that we have had and still have would simply not be financeable. This system is controlled by a few, who change the rules to their own benefit. And as we have seen they use their privileges to finance wars and to bribe politicians. By holding your wealth in precious metals you are rejecting the current system and also protecting yourself from “financial tyranny”. This includes: capital controls, expropriation, bail-ins, bailouts, negative interest rates, market manipulation on a wide scale and massive paper currency fluctuations.