Friday, July 02, 2010

The Evils of Fiat Money: Voice from the Past

[Thanks to for the image.]

In doing some research I came upon the following quote:

"Whenever commodity prices are far removed from a stable relationship with the alleged gold content of the monetary unit concerned, there is something, probably more than one thing, seriously wrong. Included in the maladjustments may be extensive abuse (misuse, unwise use) of the banking system with resulting inflation, serious overexpansion of capital facilities in various lines, unwise speculation in tulip bulbs, commodities generally, Florida lots, common stocks, Canadian mining stocks, or what have you, and possibly serious distortions among wages with steel workers getting more than college professors, etc.

"How anyone can imagine that all such distortions, maladjustments, abuses, etc. can be miraculously cured by devaluation is beyond me. Devaluation simply satisfies the most ardent pressure groups for the time being and greases the skids for the next slide by gradually destroying the stable middle-class element of society; it confirms all the unwise in their unwisdom; makes unsound banking look like sound banking; and, after two or three doses, virtually assures the ultimate destruction of the monetary unit as the strengthened pressure groups demand more and more. Such, in my opinion, is the obvious lesson of history, ancient, medieval, modern, and recent. Perhaps things will some day be different, but I doubt that."

As I read this I couldn't help but think how right he was. Everything he described has come to fruition today.

The date? 1953. The writer? Edward C. Harwood, founder of the American Institute for Economic Research. Would that such wise men were still around today.

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Anonymous Mike Sproul said...

Devaluation can be better than the alternative of a bank run. If a bank on the gold standard has issued $100, with each dollar redeemable for 1 oz. of gold, then it can easily happen that the bank's assets fall in value to 99 oz. If the (now insolvent) bank tries to maintain convertibility at 1 oz/$, then a bank run results, complete with collapse of the bank, disappearance of money, and bad economic times. Compared to this, it is better to devalue the dollar to .99 oz./$, or to simply suspend convertibility.

8:40 AM  

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