"Planned Chaos" - Why Fiat Money Is "A Large-Scale Fraud System"

Submitted by Ryan McMaken of Mises Economic blog,

The Center for Financial Studies in Frankfurt reports on a recent talk given by Thorsten Polleit:  

Thorsten Polleit on the “planned chaos” of money

What are the reasons for economic booms and busts and which reforms are necessary to create an economically viable monetary order? On 2 April, Thorsten Polleit addressed these questions in his lecture “Boom & Bust, or: Planned Chaos” referring to the Austrian school of economics. Polleit is Chief Economist of Degussa Goldhandel, President of the Ludwig von Mises Institut Deutschland and Honorary Professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

Polleit identified the state-controlled fiat money system as a main cause of the international financial and economic crisis. This system, he said, is based on the ability of banks to create money literally out of nothing. It is, in principle, a “large-scale fraud system” because today’s money is “intrinsically worthless and not redeemable”. This has damaging consequences for the overall economic development.

Circulation credit reason for economic fluctuations

To prove this fundamental critique, Polleit referred to the theoretical principles of the Austrian School of Economics, in particular to Ludwig von Mises. According to Mises, the circulation credit is the cause of economic fluctuations. Circulation credit means that banks lend money, and thereby expand money supply, without backing them by real savings (or reduction of consumption). This circulation credit is creation of money “ex nihilo”. Booms as well as busts are damaging because they slow down long-term investments with the consequence that resources in fluctuating economies are lacking. According to Mises, the problem is not low consumption but low savings. This means that the countercyclical policy in the manner of Keynes is based on a wrong diagnosis. This policy prevents an early market-driven correction with the result of an even bigger bust.

Fiat money system creates failures

Polleit explained, on the basis of the interest theory of Mises, that the market interest rate in a fiat money system was chronically below the natural interest rate. The consequence of adherence to such a system with its too low interest rates is that economic and political mistakes during the bust phase are not completely corrected – and, thus, new failures will arise. One current example for the failure of the low interest rate policy in the industrial countries is the flow of foreign capital into the emerging markets with all its harming effects. Especially since the US Federal Reserve has announced to reduce bond purchases, many investors have withdrawn their money from the emerging markets. As a result, the exchange rates of the emerging market currencies strongly depreciated – with negative consequences for their previously booming economies.

This destabilization in emerging markets will, according to Polleit, result in an even closer cooperation among national central banks – with the objective to counteract the remaining currency competition. Central banks of emerging economies could be forced to join the network of liquidity-swap-agreements in order to receive credits from other central banks more easily. Thereby, they would basically give up their sovereignty over the national money supply. The result would be a world cartel of central banks led by the US Fed. This cartel would extend the boom phases, which are caused by the credit money system, and, as a consequence, amplify the inevitably following busts.

Against the background of this grim scenario, Polleit demanded a reform of the monetary system towards a market-oriented monetary order. This should include, inter alia, disempowering central banks and privatizing money supply.