Ludwig von Mises
Many have forecast the creation of a new monetary system by which governments and banks gain total control over all monetary transactions. On the surface of it, this may seem an impossible goal, as it would be so all-encompassing and would eliminate economic freedom entirely. Surely, it would not be tolerated. However, we believe that it’s not only relatively easy to create, but it will be sold in such a way that the public will see it as an absolute panacea to their economic woes. Only those who are far-sighted will understand its level of destruction in advance of its implementation.
The central bank-controlled 100% reserve system of sovereign money will indeed mitigate much of the fluctuations associated with modern day fractional-reserve banking. However, it is not a panacea against systemic distortions of economy. Centralizing any power, especially one as important as the creation of money, will inevitably lead to cronyism. And while perhaps less likely to occur than under the current system, there still will exist a risk government manipulation of credit markets which will lead to the business cycle.
Whether today’s most feted “intellectual leaders” and policy makers are correctly diagnosing problems or misdiagnosing them, their proposals are never anything but “viciously statist” to paraphrase Hans-Hermann Hoppe. They seemingly don’t realize that economic freedom is the sine qua non for personal freedom. One simply cannot have the latter without the former. None of them seem to believe that people can be trusted to be in charge of their own affairs. The debate over the “inequality problem” is an excellent case in point. It isn’t as if the knowledge required to understand the problem weren’t readily available. However, most of these people were educated in statist institutions, and have rarely been exposed to any non-statist ideological viewpoints. The possibilities offered by solutions that do not involve the State in every nook and cranny of the economy and our daily lives don’t even occur to them. And of course, the best social engineering plans are always their personal ones.
In his recidivist attacks on the gold standard Prof. Krugman tediously resurrects and refutes straw man arguments drawn from marginal thinkers. Prof. Krugman sets his phaser on stun and points it at the ghost of Ayn Rand rather than tangling with his peers. But boiled to its essence, Krugman's sciencefictiononomics is a tug of war between believers in mathematical modeling and believers in common sense. One also can cast this as a war between elitists (i.e believers in the ability of an elite to manage society’s affairs better than can the society itself) and populists (i.e. believers in the ability of society to manage its own affairs better than an elite can do so for it).
The idea is that savings exceed investment, and that a negative real interest rate is required for bringing savings in line with investment. From the viewpoint of the Austrian school, the notion of a “negative equilibrium real interest rate” doesn’t make sense at all. To show this, let us develop the case step by step. To start with, one should make a distinction between two types of interest rates: There is the market interest rate, and there is the originary interest rate.
Monetary policy is putting the hurt on labor.
The belief that the market economy requires “steering” by altruistic central bankers, who make decisions influencing the entire economy based on their personal epiphanies, has rarely been more pronounced than today... Whether this is seen as good or bad by the average citizen is not even up for debate: it is simply what the political and bureaucratic elites have long ago decided is good for the citizenry, since they think they know best.
The 2008 worldwide financial crisis was produced due to excessively easy monetary policy, which caused the largest debt driven mal-investment in housing, automobiles, and Chinese produced crap in world history. The consequences of this debt bacchanalia should have been the orderly liquidation of the Wall Street entities that created the crisis, the writing off of trillions in bad debt, corporate and personal bankruptcies of businesses and people who borrowed recklessly, a sharp steep economic decline to cleanse the excesses, and politicians who immediately began the process of reducing budgets and addressing long term unfunded unpayable liability promises. Instead, the psychotic oligarchs did not want to lose any of their power, wealth or control over the proletariat. They have done the exact opposite of what needed to be done.
US stock markets reached record highs last week. Question: does that make them riskier, or less risky? We think the former.
The dominoes are beginning to fall. The initial spark in 2008 has triggered a series of unyielding responses by those in power, but further emergencies and unintended consequences juxtapose, connect and accelerate a chain reaction that will become uncontainable once a tipping point is reached. The fabric of society is tearing at points of extreme vulnerability, with depression, violence and war on the foreseeable horizon. Mr. President, the shadow of crisis has not passed. The looming shadow of crisis grows ever larger and darker by the day as this Crisis enters the most dangerous phase, where the existing social order will be swept away in a torrent of carnage and ferocious struggle. We are not a chosen people. We are not immune from dire outcomes.
We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.
The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.
As a new year begins, it is easy to consider that the prospects for freedom in America and in many other parts of the world to seem dim. After all, government continues to grow bigger and more intrusive, along with tax burdens that siphon off vast amounts of private wealth. Extrapolating these trends out for the foreseeable future, it would seem that the chances for winning liberty are highly unlikely. There is only one problem with this pessimistic forecast: the future is unpredictable and apparent trends do change.
The fate of countries like Japan is really in the hands of central bankers. However, central planners are not able to manipulate markets infinitely. At a certain point, something has to give. That is when the markets will give up and disbelief will replace trust. In such a bust scenario, people flee down the Golden Pyramid of asset classes to their safe haven, being gold.
As Charles Dickens himself admits, Ebenezer Scrooge is a thoroughly peaceful man, guilty of no true crime, who has robbed no one. Therefore, we must conclude that his wealth is a sign of his ability to please at least some people, and as Michael Levin notes: “Dickens doesn't mention Scrooge's satisfied customers, but there must have been plenty of them for Scrooge to have gotten so rich.” As a miser and businessman, Scrooge provides numerous valuable services to the community including, as Walter Block has shown, driving down prices and making liquidity available to those who, unlike the wrongly maligned misers, have been either unwilling or unable to save in comparable amounts. His business prowess notwithstanding, however, a closer look at Scrooge’s economics suggests some significant blind spots in several areas. Scrooge, as displayed in many of his comments and observations, misunderstands some key economics concepts.