Three Words That Could Help Fix the US Monetary System
Choppy week in the markets, wouldn’t you say? Gap down one day, gap up the next. That’s what you get when the tub is full of Fed-faked funny-money. Bigger waves…more tumult…less predictability. And a whole lotta motion sickness along the way.
Markets are always and forever in a process of price discovery, torn between demand for lower prices from buyers on one side, and the profit motive from sellers on the other. Somewhere in the middle, the two parties will come together to exchange their goods and services. In other words, they “discover” an agreeable price at which everyone finds value. This is what the free market does naturally. Low prices invite demand…driving prices higher. High prices invite competition (supply)…driving prices lower.
Obviously, therefore, you expect a bit of movement, a bit of price fluctuation as buyers and sellers jostle for position. What you don’t expect is multi-hundred point daily swings in the stock markets. You don’t expect gold to jump $20, $30 or more in a 24-hour period. (Remember, before FDR confiscated all the gold in the land back in 1933, an ounce of gold was only “worth” $20. More correctly, a dollar was worth 1/20th an ounce of gold. Then, in one fell swoop, the original New Dealer “revalued” the metal to $35 an ounce, thereby devaluing the dollar to 1/35th an ounce of gold.)
The point is, a $20 or $30 movement in the price of gold back then would have been unthinkable (but for political strong-arming). Today, with the dollar having been beaten, bludgeoned and fisticuffed down to less than 1/1,500th an ounce of gold, twenty bucks here or there is hardly worth mentioning, such is the woeful state of the world’s leading fiat money.
Of course, markets don’t demand fiat currencies. Free individuals don’t wake up one day and say to themselves, “Gee… Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an unquestionable, unaccountable, centrally controlled monopoly on counterfeiting to help debase our medium of exchange, saddle the populace with that most insidious of all taxes – inflation – and to sell our kiddies future down the drain? I know, let’s create a Federal Reserve!”
Such institutions don’t come about “naturally.” They require political pull and the gun-for-rent that is the government. They take cover behind rooking legalese, as is found in “The Federal Reserve Act of 1913,” and the absurd prevarications of its “dual mandate,” which is, at present, sold to the terminally credulous public under the noble-sounding, though entirely erroneous mission statement of “price stability and maximum employment.”
Anyone with a basic, non-Ivy League-approved understanding of economics knows this to be a ridiculous goal in the first place. For one, gold takes care of price stability itself. Has done for thousands of years. Price instability is the direct result of fiat monies and manipulation of the money supply by self-serving central banking cartels. From tulipmania to techmania, one can find, at the rotten heart of every inflationary crisis, a central banker with an equally rotten brain and/or heart.
As for the “fetish of full employment,” as Henry Hazlitt so eloquently explains in his classic, Economics in One Lesson:
“The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of employment, not its increase. It is because we have become increasingly wealthy as a nation that we have been able virtually to eliminate child labor, to remove the necessity of work for many of the aged and to make it [financially] unnecessary for millions of women to take jobs.
“The real question,” continued Hazlitt, writing in 1946, “is not how many millions of jobs there will be in America ten years from now, but how much shall we produce, and what, in consequence, will be our standard of living?”
The Fed is the work of Woodrow…a creature of Congress. As George F. Will, writing in The Post, once put it, mission creep is part of the “metabolic urge” of government agencies. The Fed is no different. It is an Ouroboros running out of tail on which to feed. There’s nothing free market about this beast, Fellow Reckoner…and nothing free market about the economy that stands on its sunken shoulders.
Without space for competing currencies, the invisible hand is bound and cuffed, unable to feel around in the dark, to set reliable prices. Value is distorted, malinvestment promoted.
In the end, you get unpredictable stock market volatility and a dollar shaved to within 1/1,500th of its life. Exactly what you’d expect, in other words.
The solution? Here, a modest suggestion:
Instead, allow competing banks to issue competing currencies. Allow the fundamental underpinning of an economy – it’s medium of exchange – to discover its own “fair value.” Witness competition weed out banks that lend imprudently and that rip off customers, to the favor of those operating with prudence and fiscal integrity. Watch institutions that choose to issue baseless, paper money go bust without federal bailout funds and those that adhere – freely, without let or hindrance – to a gold standard garner the public trust their thrift and judiciousness earns them.
Wishful thinking, you say? Well, until such a time comes to pass, here’s another suggestion, courtesy of our Reckoner-in-Chief, Bill Bonner:
“Buy gold. Be happy.”