Adam Smith on his own era's QE Bailouts

The banks, they seem to have thought, could extend their credits to whatever sum might be wanted, without incurring any other expense besides that of a few reams of paper. They complained of the contracted views and dastardly spirit of the directors of those banks....  -- Adam Smith

"Quantitative Easing" is a fancy new euphemism for an old practice: bailouts demanded by merchants of bankers. 

wealthofnations

 

Adam Smith, in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, was an early critic of the practice.  From Book II, Chapter II:

It is now more than five-and-twenty years since the paper money issued by the different banking companies of Scotland was fully equal, or rather was somewhat more than fully equal, to what the circulation of the country could easily absorb and employ. Those companies, therefore, had so long ago given all the assistance to the traders and other undertakers of Scotland which it is possible for banks and bankers, consistently with their own interest, to give. They had even done somewhat more. They had overtraded a little, and had brought upon themselves that loss, or at least that diminution of profit, which in this particular business never fails to attend the smallest degree of overtrading. Those traders and other undertakers, having got so much assistance from banks and bankers, wished to get still more. The banks, they seem to have thought, could extend their credits to whatever sum might be wanted, without incurring any other expense besides that of a few reams of paper. They complained of the contracted views and dastardly spirit of the directors of those banks, which did not, they said, extend their credits in proportion to the extension of the trade of the country; meaning, no doubt, by the extension of that trade the extension of their own projects beyond what they could carry on, either with their own capital, or with what they had credit to borrow of private people in the usual way of bond or mortgage. The banks, they seem to have thought, were in honour bound to supply the deficiency, and to provide them with all the capital which they wanted to trade with. The banks, however, were of a different opinion, and upon their refusing to extend their credits, some of those traders had recourse to an expedient which, for a time, served their purpose, though at a much greater expense, yet as effectually as the utmost extension of bank credits could have done. This expedient was no other than the well-known shift of drawing and redrawing; the shift to which unfortunate traders have sometimes recourse when they are upon the brink of bankruptcy.


Vinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo SliderVinaora Nivo Slider

Exclusive Interview With Jerry Bowyer, Part I

August 26, 2014

An extended interview with Jerry Bowyer: some thoughts on the "rediscovery of a virtuous monetary system."

BOOK REVIEWS

Signs Of The Gold Standard Emerging From Great Britain?

by Ralph Benko

... Given Kwarteng’s current and, likely, future importance to the world monetary discourse it really would be invaluable were he to master the arguments of Jacques Rueff, and of Lewis Lehrman, as well as those of Triffin (who shared the same diagnosis while offering a different prescription).

Read More

 

The Federal Reserve System's James Narron and David Skeie, career officials with the Federal Reserve System, are two eminent historically erudite figures.  Writing in the New York Federal Reserve Bank's online publication, Liberty Street Economics, they recently provided a continuation of their valuable historical "revue," Crisis Chronicles: The Collapse of the...

BLOGS


Paul Krugman's Projection

Ralph J. Benko  |  Jul 14, 2014
On July 6th, Nobel economics laureate and Princeton Professor launched, in the New York Times, one of his occasional polemics, entitled Conservative Delusions About Inflation, against proponents of the gold standard.  Krugman Caricature under creative commons license from DonkeyHotey As usual, Prof. Krugman is, conveniently for the position he takes, beyond lopsided...
VIEW BLOGS
An article headline in Saturday’s Wall Street Journalread “Rate Talk Heats Up Within The Fed.” As Journalreporters Jon Hilsenrath and Michael Derby...
VIEW WORLD NEWS
Aug 01, 1980
Key Monetary Writings
Lewis E. Lehrman

Real Money

The world economy of the nineteenth century was, above all, characterized by the gold standard. Each great power defined...
VIEW KEY MONETARY WRITINGS
 

Kathleen M. Packard, Publisher
Ralph J. Benko, Editor

In Memoriam
Professor Jacques Rueff
(1896-1978)

Now Available on Amazon and from The Lehrman Institute

Gold Standard 3-Pack

Three Gold Standard Titles for One Low Price. Only from The Lehrman Institute Store.

Buy from
The Lehrman Institute