The willingness to work for the sake of future prosperity is a universal human quality, but people must believe there is a link between effort and reward.
The euro is beset with fiscal calamities that threaten its downfall, and markets in the U.S. are roiled by uncertainty over the government’s financial regulatory legislation. But don’t worry. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner meets with European finance officials today to discuss the economic situation. According to a Treasury Department statement, they will focus on “measures being taken to restore global confidence and financial stability.” So everything is under control.
What government policy makers in the U.S. and Europe fail to realize is that far from being seen as capable of delivering economic salvation, they are increasingly perceived as primary contributors to global financial ruin. Whether it’s the fiscal recklessness of spendthrift politicians or the refusal of government officials to acknowledge failings—distorting mortgage markets through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, skewing assessments of credit risk through loose monetary policy—the influence of government over the real economy is proving disastrous.
No wonder people are flocking to gold as they flee government-supplied money. Neither the dollar nor the euro inspires much global confidence; despite the dollar’s relative safe-haven status, neither currency holds out the promise of financial stability.
How can the real economy, i.e., the private sector, where genuine wealth is actually produced, continue to function in the absence of reliable money? Europeans will be wary of the euro from now on, given that the European Central Bank has relaxed its standards for safeguarding monetary integrity by absorbing Greek debt. Meanwhile, the perilous fiscal condition of the U.S. has convinced many that our government will resort to future inflation to reduce its own untenable debt burden.
... While the Fed's easy-money policies have not produced many jobs, they have produced a persistent, low rate of inflation that is choking the American middle class. Since the asset purchases began five years ago, the average American family has experienced rising prices and stagnant wages. The resulting decline in living standards explains why voters ranked rising prices nearly tied with unemployment as their top economic concern during the 2012 election.
... It is difficult to interpret [Jeb] Hensarling’s declaration to hold hearings on “the entirety of their hundred year history and what America has looked like since adopting a fiat currency” as anything but an intention to bring the Commission up for a vote. Hensarling promises to process vast amounts of information. The constraints on a committee hearing, and on a committee staff, cannot do such a huge topic justice. As Rep. Kevin Brady put it in his own remarks at Cato, a “brutally bipartisan” Commission — with Hensarling a Commissioner — is called for.
Publisher's Note: Originally released in June/July of 1991, this detailed report discusses Jacques Rueff's economic theories and applies them to modern economic events.
By John D. Mueller
The Problem of the Quantity Theory of Money
Rueff’s first work in monetary theory, Theorie des Phenomenes Monetaires (1927), was devoted partly to examining the theories put forward by Irving Fisher in The Purchasing Power of Money (1911). Rueff himself owed a large debt to Fisher, as does all of economics, for ideas like the modern understanding of income and capital. But Fisher is best remembered for his famous Equation of Exchange:
MV + M’V’ = PT
where M is the supply of money, M’ the supply of bank credit, and V and V’ referred to the “velocity of circulation” of money and bank credit, respectively.
"By means of the lawful stamp of convertibility to gold, a near-worthless paper was suffused with a monetary life of its own. It circulated in place of coins and bullion because it was even more convenient, equally divisible, and above all secured by the substance of real money. Moreover, convertible paper and deposit currencies conserved still further the scarce mineral, labor, and capital resources previously invested in the production and circulation of precious bullion or coins. One sees in the evolution of this extraordinary commercial institution of exchange that money became a unique conservator, and the effective mechanism of growth of a civilization born of scarcity."
Speaking in Berlin November 21, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi declared: "Let me react towards what is a nationalistic undertone in some of our countries whereby we [are said to] act against the interests of some countries and in defense of our own countries." German members of the European...
Two erudite and discerning officials affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York -- the bellwether of the Federal Reserve System -- have posted another scholarly essay in their series entitled "Crisis Chronicles." An excerpt from the fine, and immediately relevant, work of James Narron, senior vice president and...