Tag Archives: Money

Demonocracy: The Great Human Scourge!



Review: Christophe Buffin de Chosal, The End of Democracy, Translated by Ryan P. Plummer.  Printed in the U.S.A.: Tumblar House, 2017.

Introduction

One cannot speak too highly of Christophe Buffin de Chosal’s The End of Democracy.  In a fast paced, readable, yet scholarly fashion, Professor Buffin de Chosal* demolishes the ideological justification in which modern democracy rests while he describes the disastrous effects that democratic rule has had on Western societies.  He explodes the myth of Democracy as a protector of individual liberty, a prerequisite for economic progress, and a promoter of the higher arts.  Once Democracy is seen in this light, a far more accurate interpretation of modern history can be undertaken.  The book is a very suitable companion to Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s iconoclastic take down of democracy in Democracy: The God That Failed, released at the beginning of this century.  Buffin de Chosal has spoken of a follow up which will be eagerly awaited for.

Democratic Governance

The idea of rule by the people is a scam, one perpetuated by those who, in actuality, are in control of the government.  Through the “democratic process” of voting and elections, a small, determined minority can impose its will despite majority opposition:

We often hear it said that ‘in a democracy,

it is the people who rule. . . .’  Rule by the

people is a myth which loses all substance

once confronted with the real practice in

democracy.  [13]

Quoting from a Russian philosopher, Buffin de Chosal continues his criticism:

    The best definition [of democracy] was

given by the Russian philosopher Vasily Rozanov. 

‘Democracy is the system by which an

organized minority governs an unorganized

majority.’  This ‘unorganized majority’ is the

people, aggregated and individualistic,

incapable of reaction because disjointed.  [28]

He expands upon Rozanov’s theme:

. . . [C]ontrary to what [democracy’s] principles

proclaim: one can say that the majority

almost never wins.  Democracy is not the

system of the majority, but that of the most

powerful minority, and it has this power

not simply due to its numbers, but also and

above all due to its organization. [31]

Power does not reside in “the people” and certainly not in the individual.  In democracy, the only way to express one’s preference or protect one’s rights is through the ballot box every so often. “Each voter,” writes Buffin de Chosal, “in a democracy, is the depositary of a tiny particle of sovereignty, in itself unusable. His sole power consists in dropping a ballot into a box, whereby he is immediately dispossessed of his particle of sovereignty at the profit of those who are going to represent him.”  [Ibid.]

Popular democracy has always been condemned and feared by most thinkers since the beginning of human societies.  It was not until intellectuals saw democracy as a way they could attain power that they began to advocate it as a system of social order.  Prior to the democratic age, most of the learned understood that democracy would result in mob rule and the displacement of natural authority with demagogues.  In short, the worst would rise to the top as the author describes the characteristics of a contemporary politician:

The ideal politician, on the other hand, is

pliable, convincing, and a liar by instinct.  He is

not attached to any platform and has no

ideological objective.  The single thing to which

he is truly committed is power.  He wants its

prestige and advantages, and seeks above all

to be personally enriched by it.  Any politician

who presents this aspect is recognized as fit for

power in a democracy. . .  .  It is therefore not

surprising that democratically elected assemblies

are almost exclusively comprised of

these kinds of men and women.  Elected

heads of state almost always fit this profile,

and international institutions, such as the

European Union, consider it the only

acceptable profile. . . .  [35]

Democracy and the State

Since the advent of modern democracy, the principle benefactor of its rule has been the State and the politically-connected financial elites who are in actuality the true rulers of societies.  Instead of putting an end to the supposedly despotic rule of the Ancien Régime, which Democracy’s proponents claim to have existed throughout the monarchial and aristocratic age, governance by the people, has instead witnessed an increase in state power and control of individual lives to an unprecedented level in human history. Few, if any, pope, emperor, king, prince, or duke have ever possessed such suzerainty.

In contrast to what has been taught in classrooms, on university campuses, and espoused throughout the media, individual rights and freedoms were far better guarded in the age prior to Democracy’s ascendancy.  Pre-revolutionary Europe had social structures which insulated individuals from State power far more effectively than under modern democracy:

    The concept of an organic society was abolished at

the time of the French Revolution.  The corps and

orders were suppressed, the privileges were abolished,

and everything which allowed the people to protect

themselves from the power of the state was banished

in the name of liberty.  [24]

And in return for giving up the order that protected them from state depredations, the people received “sovereignty:”

They were given the false promise that they

would no longer need to defend themselves

from the state since they themselves were the

state.  But if a people organized into corps and

orders are incapable of exercising sovereignty,

how much more so a people comprising a formless

mass of individuals!  [Ibid.] 

Historically, all of the democratic movements which supposedly stemmed from the people were, in fact, a falsehood, perpetuated largely by revolutionaries who sought to replace the established order with themselves.  While legislatures, congresses, and democratic bodies of all sorts have been interpreted as the fruition of the masses’ desire for representation, the reality was quite different:

    Democracy is not, in its origin, a system of

the people.  In England with the advent of the

parliamentary system just as in France during the

Revolution, it was not the people who were seen

at work.  Even the Russian Revolution was not a

phenomenon of the people.  To regard the people

or what the communist elegantly call the ‘masses’

as the agent of change or political upheaval is purely

a theoretical view, a historical myth, of which

one sees no trace in reality.  The ‘people’ were

the pretext, the dupes, and almost always the

victims of the revolutions, not the engines.  [13]

Not only was propagation of the myth of popular support for democratic ideals propounded for the survival of the new social order, but putting these tenets into practice was accomplished, in large part, by the role of the “intellectual” an often neglected feature of standard historical analysis and the reason behind much social transformation:  

The ‘nation’ met the desires of the philosophers

who wanted to transfer power from the monarch

to an enlightened, philosophical, and philanthropic

class who, moreover, ought to be financially

comfortable.  The educated bourgeoisie of the

time were the protagonists of this idea, and a

portion of the nobility formed their audience.  [13-14]

The intellectuals promoted Democracy because it would open up for them considerable opportunities for position and income in the nation state.  It must be remembered that it was the intellectuals who justified the idea of Absolutism.  Later, the intellectuals turned on the monarchies and sided with the emerging republican classes rightly believing that democratic governance would give them greater opportunities for power in the emerging nation states.

Democracy and Modern History

While most historians see the advancement of democracy and the development of legislative bodies over the course of the last centuries as an advancement in the human condition and one that has emanated from the people’s desire for greater political representation, Buffin de Chosal presents a far different and more accurate interpretation.  “Democracy,” he asserts, “is not, in its origin a system of the people.” [13] All of the social movements which eventually led to the destruction of Christendom did not come from the people seeking a greater “voice” in their governance.

“The ‘people,’” he argues, “were the pretext, the dupes, and almost always the victims of the revolutions, not the engines.” [Ibid.]  Liberty, Equality and Fraternity was not a popular cry, but one coined and used by the “enlightened” classes to mobilize and justify their overthrow of the French monarchy and with it the destruction of the Church. 

    The French Revolution was built on the

idea of the ‘nation,’ which claimed to bring

together the intellectual, social, and financial

elite of the country.  It was on this foundation

that democracy was established and that it

functioned during almost all of the nineteenth

century.  [Ibid.]

A similar historical narrative can be seen in England.

The rise and eventual triumph of representative democracy in England was not one that percolated from the masses itching for more freedom.  “The appearance of the parliamentary system in England,” Buffin de Chosal contends, “was tied to the great movement of Church property confiscation begun under Henry VIII and continuing until the coming of the Stuarts.” [14] 

After Henry gorged himself on the Church’s wealth, he sought to bribe as much of the nobility as possible with his ill-gotten gains to insure his power.  An envious Parliament, however, wanted its cut of the loot which led to the great internecine struggle between Crown and Parliament which eventually ended in the suzerainty of the latter with the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  The real power from then on rested with an oligarchical legislative branch:

The families who had thus helped themselves

to the Church’s goods, morally justified by

Protestant ethics, formed the gentry, the class

of landowners who sat in Parliament.  Parliament

was not then, as one might believe today, an organ

of poplar representation.  It was an instrument

in the hands of the gentry to defend its own class

interests. [16-17]

That Parliament and the monarchy would become the two dominant ruling structures was the result of the breakdown of the feudal structure which was taking place not only in England, but across Europe.  European monarchs continued to gain more and more power at the expense of the feudal landed elite.  The gentry’s power and wealth was also on the wane with the rise of commercial centers which most of the time aligned themselves first with the kings and then later with Parliament.  The eventual triumph of Parliament, however, did not mean greater democracy for the people:

The financial incentives for England’s adoption

of the Protestant Reformation are therefore

intimately connected with the bolstering of

Parliamentary power. The Parliament in England

was used to put the monarchy in check and to

replace it with an oligarchic class of wealthy

Protestants to whom the kings were required to

submit.  This is why the overthrow of James II

in 1688 was a true revolution.  It was not a

popular revolution or the overthrowing of a

tyranny, but it was the rebellion of a class

implementing the transfer of sovereign power

for its own profit. [17]

The Market Economy

The author takes a refreshing look at the market economy that sets straight the inaccurate and often times hostile analysis of it that frequently comes from conservative circles.  He distinguishes and rightly points out that “pure capitalism” or the “unhampered market” is an “excellent thing” [123].  The free market is intimately tied with private property which is a prerequisite for a just society:

[Capitalism] proceeds from respect for private property.

As capitalism is the reinvestment or saved money for the

purpose of making new profits, it presupposes respect for

property rights and free enterprise.   It has existed in Europe

since the Middle Ages and has contributed significantly to

the development of Western society.  [Ibid.]

He insightfully notes that “bad capitalism” often gets lumped in with its “good form” while the latter gets the blame for the baneful excesses of the former.  “Monopoly capitalism,” “corporatism,” “the mixed economy,” and “crony capitalism” are not the result of the market process, but stem from “intervention” brought about by the State in favor of its business favorites through participatory democracy.  In a truly free market, entrenched wealth is rarely maintained but is constantly subjected to challenges by competitors:

But what one ought to designate as bad

capitalism is the concentration of wealth and

power this wealth procures.  This danger does

not stem from capitalism itself but rather from

parliamentary democracy, for it is democracy

that enables money powers to dominate the

political realm.  [Ibid.]

The “monied interest” did not exist under “traditional monarchy,” but was a product of Democracy and the protection and extension of the “bad capitalistic” paradigm that came into being and was expanded by the rise of popular representative bodies.  Assemblies, legislatures, and congresses, which emerged, became aligned with the banking and financial interests to bring about the downfall of the monarchies. 

The concentration of political power could only be attained after the control of money and credit were centralized in the form of central banking and the gold standard was eliminated.  Central banks have been an instrumental part of the democratic age, funding the nation state’s initiatives and enriching the politically- tied financial elites at the expense of everyone else.   

Wealth concentration is not a by-product of the free market.  Rarely are firms able to maintain their dominance for long periods of time.  Many turn to the State to get protection and monopoly grants to ensure their position in the economy:

. . . capitalism only becomes harmful when

it grants political power to the money powers.

This was only made possible thanks to the advent

of parliamentary democracy, which was an

invention of liberalism.  It is therefore the

foundational principles of political liberalism

(equality before the law, suppression of privileges,

centralization of political power, censitary suffrage,

and the accountability of ministers to the legislative

houses) which have enabled the rise of a wealthy class

and its power over society.  [124]

Such sound economic analysis abounds throughout his tome.

Future Prospects

The author rightly sees that because of its nature and the type of personalities that it attracts, modern democracy cannot reform itself, but will eventually collapse from financial stress, war, and/or civil strife:

    Parliamentary democracy rarely produces true

statesmen, as its party system more often

promotes ambitious and self-interested persons,

demagogues, and even communication experts. 

These are generally superficial and egocentric

individuals with a very limited understanding

of society and man.  These politicians do not      

have the makings of statesmen.  They are

adventurers who use the state to satiate their

hunger for power and money or to benefit

their party.  [147]

Efforts to reform it, however, should not be totally dismissed since they could lead to more fundamental change and ultimately the creation of a new political paradigm for Western governance.  Populism and the various movements around the globe which fall into that category should be encouraged.  Populism, because of is lack of definite ideological underpinnings, has meant different things at different times to different people.  Most populists, however, do not want to get rid of democratic forms of government, but want the system to be more “responsive” of its constituents instead of favoring entrenched political elites.  Populism is a symptom of the growing failure of modern democracy’s inability to “deliver the goods” that it promises to a now growing dependency class. 

As a means of getting rid of totalitarian democracy, populist movements and themes should always be encouraged:

In Europe, the only political forces today

which could, in the more extreme of circumstances

assume this rescue role are found on the side of

populism.  Conservative in its values, sometimes

classically liberal when it is a matter of opposing

the stifling interventionism of the state, and yet ready

to defend social gains . . .  populism is the only

political current which comes to the defense of

those interests of the population denied or ignored

by the parties in power. [148]

He adds:

Populist parties, from the simple fact that they

can bring together voters from both the left

and the right, have a chance of coming to power

in the near enough future.  The deterioration of

security conditions in Europe due to mass

immigration plays in their favor.  [148-49]    

While he does not explicitly discuss it, a more concrete and ideological coherent idea and one of historical precedent, is that of secession.  For all those who oppose the democratic order, secession is the most justifiable, logical, and practical strategy for the dissolution of the nation state.  Secession movements, therefore, whether they do not outwardly condemn parliamentary democracy and only seek to establish a “better run” system, should always be supported. 

Conclusion

The most likely scenario if there is to be a change in Western democratic life will be from a world-wide economic crisis and collapse of the financial system which will render the nation states unable to meet their financial obligations to their citizens.  All economies are hopelessly indebted from their welfare state excesses and can never hope to meet their promises which now runs in the trillions.  What will emerge in the aftermath of a collapse is hard to predict, but some form of authoritarianism is likely which will be centered on a one-world state with a single, irredeemable currency.

While the financial demise of Western-styled democracy will be evident for all to see, its ideological underpinnings which have justified its existence needs to be extirpated.  Any hope of it being reconstituted to better serve “the people” needs to be shot down.  There is no better place to start the de-mystification of Democracy than with Christophe Buffin de Chosal’s magnificent, The End of Democracy.  

*Professor Christophe Buffin de Chosal teaches economic history at the United Business Institutes. 

Buffin-de-Chosal

 

Antonius Aquinas@antoniusaquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.comhttps://antoniusaquinas.com

The Gold Standard: Protector of Individual Liberty and Economic Prosperity

goldstandard vs.    the-bill-of-rights

 

 

The idea of a constitution and/or written legislation to secure individual rights so beloved by conservatives and among many libertarians has proven to be a myth. The US Constitution and all those that have been written and ratified in its wake throughout the world have done little to protect individual liberties or keep a check on State largesse.  Instead, in the American case, the Constitution created a powerful central government which eliminated much of the sovereignty and independence that the individual states possessed under the Articles of Confederation.

While the US Constitution contains a “Bill of Rights,” the interpreter of those rights and protections thereof is the very entity which has enumerated them.  It is only natural that decisions on whether, or if such rights have been violated will be in favor of the state.  Moreover, nearly every amendment which has come in the wake of the Bill of Rights, has augmented federal power at the expense of the individual states and that of property owners.

History has shown the steady erosion of individual rights and the creation of “new rights” and entitlements (education, health care, employment, etc.) which have occurred under constitutional rule.  Instead of limitation on government power, constitutions have given cover for the vast expansion of taxation, regulation, debt, and money creation.

While taxation has always been a facet of constitutional governments, it has been the advent of central banking and with it the elimination of the gold standard which has provided the means for the state to become such an omnipresent force in everyday life.  Irredeemable fiat paper money issued by central banks has also led to the entrenchment of political parties which has allowed these elites to create and subsidize dependency groups which, in turn, repeatedly vote to keep the political class in office.

Without the ability to create money and credit, the many bureaucracies, regulations, and laws could neither be created or enforced.  This would mean that the vast and powerful security and surveillance agencies could not exist or would be far less intrusive than they currently are.  With commodity money, debt creation would have to be repaid in gold, not monetized as it is currently done through the issuance of paper currency.

Just as important, it would have been next to impossible for the two world wars to have been fought and carried to their unimaginable destructive ends.  None of the populations involved would have put up with the level of taxation necessary to wage such costly undertakings.  Few of the wars which followed (most of which have been instigated by the US) could have taken place without central banking.  Nor could the level of “defense” spending – currently at a whopping $717 billion for fiscal year 2018 – be financed if the US was on a commodity standard.*

Under a gold standard, governments would have to rely on taxation alone.  Since citizens directly feel the effects of taxation, there is a “natural level” that it can be raised.  Punitive tax rates usually lead to a backlash and potential social insurrection which strike fear in the hearts of political elites.

Recent projections by the Congressional Budget Office again demonstrate that constitutional government provides little restraint on spending.

If present trends continue, the federal government will spend more on its interest serving its debt than it spends on the military, Medicare, or children’s programs.  It is also expected that next year’s interest on the debt will be some $390 billion, up an astonishing 50 percent from 2017.** And, for the entire fiscal year of 2018, the gross national debt surged by $1.271 trillion, to a mind-boggling $21.52 trillion.***

At one time, economists used to speak of the pernicious effects that “crowding out” had on an economy.  Since the onset of the “bubble era,” talk about deficits has almost dropped out of financial discussions.  Yet, the reality remains the same: public spending and borrowing divert scarce resources away from private capital markets to unproductive wasteful government projects and endeavors.

For those who seek a reduction in State power, defense of individual rights, and economic prosperity, the re-establishment of a monetary order based on the precious metals is the most efficacious path to take.  Such a social system would not require elaborate legislation or fancy proclamations of man’s inalienable rights, but simply a return to honest money – gold!

*Amanda Macias, “Trump Gives $717 Billion Defense Bill a Green Light. Here’s What the Pentagon is Poised to Get.”  CNBC.com 14 August 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/13/trump-signs-717-billion-defense-bill.html

**Nelson D. Schwartz, “As Debt Rises, the Government Will Soon Spend More on Interest Than on the Military.”  The New York Times. 25 September 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/25/business/economy/us-government-debt-interest.html

***Tyler Durden, “US Gross National Debt Soars $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion.” Zero Hedge.  2 October 2018.   https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-02/us-gross-national-debt-soars-127-trillion-fiscal-2018-hits-215-trillion

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

The Fed’s “Inflation Target” is Impoverishing American Workers

Powell   Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently doesn’t see the pernicious effects of inflation

At one time, the Federal Reserve’s sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.

Naturally, the Fed and all other central bankers prefer the definition of inflation as a rise in prices which insidiously hides the fact that they, being the issuers of currency, are the real culprit for increased prices.

Be that as it may, the common understanding of inflation as rising prices has always been seen as pernicious and destructive to an economy and living standards.  In the perverted world of modern economics, however, the idea of inflation as an intrinsic evil has been turned on its head and monetary authorities the world over now have “inflation targets” which they hope to attain.

America’s central bank is right in line with this lunacy, as it has been reported that at the Fed’s “May minutes” it wants “a temporary period of inflation modestly above 2 percent [which] would be consistent with the Committee’s symmetric inflation objective.”* Translated into understandable verbiage, the Fed wants everyone to pay at least 2% higher prices for the goods they buy.

Yes, by some crazed thinking US monetary officials believe that consumers paying higher prices is somehow good for economic activity and standards of living!  Of course, anyone with a modicum of sense can see that this is absurd and that those who espouse such policy should be laughed at and summarily locked up in an asylum!  Yet, this is now standard policy, not just with the Fed, but with the ECU and other central banks.

The baneful consequence of this economic quackery is being felt by American workers as admitted by the Labor Department.  Instead of spurring expansion, inflation is eating into and depressing wages:

For workers in ‘production and

nonsupervisory” positions, the value

of the average paycheck has actually

declined in the past year.  For those

workers, average ‘real wages’ – a

measure of pay that takes inflation

into account fell – from $22.62 in

May 2017 to $22.59 in May of 2018.*

While the decline in nominal wages is not significant, the manner in which the government now calculates inflation has been skewed to understate its impact.  Under the previous calculation, the current US inflation rate is probably closer to 5%.

Wage stagnation is not new.  Average real wages peaked more than 40 years ago and have fallen in real terms ever since.  Not surprisingly, the drop in wages in real terms began soon after the US went off the last vestiges of the gold standard in 1971.

As sound theory has long ago demonstrated, the idea of economic growth through money printing is absurd.  Increases in living standards and real wages can only come about through savings, investment, and capital accumulation.  Workers who have superior tools and equipment are obviously more productive than those that do not. Yet, capital goods have to be produced and production takes place over time.  Savings allow for the production process.

The level of wages are also closely linked to savings.  The greater savings an economy has enables entrepreneurs to bid for workers and increase wage rates.  This is how wages rise – competition for labor among businessmen pushes up wage rates.  The more savings entrepreneurs have, the higher they can bid for employees.

How and why wage rates rise and how employment is created had been understood by economists of yesteryear.  Today, however, the profession is dominated by “inflationists” and monetary cranks who believe that nearly every economic problem can be solved by the printing press.  Anyone who holds such ideas cannot be taken seriously.

While the Federal Reserve may think an inflation target will create prosperity, the reality for real wages is quite the opposite.  The laws of economic science have not been repealed.  An inflation target will lead to the impoverishment of not just workers, but lower living standards for all.

inflation target.jpg

*Jeff Stein and Andrew van Dam, “For the Biggest Group of American Workers, Wages Aren’t Just Flat.  They’re Falling.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2018 A10.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

“Strong Dollar,” “Weak Dollar,” What About a Gold-Backed Dollar?

gold backed dollar

The recent hullabaloo among President Trump’s top monetary officials about the Administration’s “dollar policy” is just the start of what will likely be the first of many contradictory pronoucements and reversals which will take place in the coming months/years as the world’s reserve currency continues to be compromised.  So far, the Greenback has had its worst start since 1987, the year of a major stock market reset.

The brief firestorm was set off by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who said in response to the dollar’s recent slide, “Obviously, a weaker dollar is good for us, it’s good because it has to do with trade and opportunities.”*  Mnuchin backtracked a bit as international financial leaders criticized the apparent shift in policy while Administration officials sought to clarify the Secretary’s remarks.  President Trump weighted in on the matter saying, “Ultimately, I want to see a strong dollar” and added that Mnuchin’s comments were “taken out of context.”

While President Trump sought to allay jittery currency markets that monetary policy had not changed, candidate Trump supported the Federal Reserve’s suppression of interest rates and did not want to see a rising dollar:

I must be honest, I’m a low interest rate

person.  If we raise rates and if the

dollar starts getting too strong, we’re going

to have some very major problems.**

Of course, the entire uproar about a strong dollar versus weak dollar is a sham. When the dollar (and for that matter all other national currencies) cannot be redeemed for either gold or silver, it is inherently “weak” and ultimately worthless.  That this obvious fact is not recognized by the Trump Administration, international monetary authorities, and the financial press demonstrates just how unstable the dollar and world currencies actually are.

If President Trump truly wants to see a strong dollar that will become a linchpin in “making America great again,” he should enact policies that will return the dollar to its original function – a warehouse receipt that can be redeemed for precious metals.  Just as important, an authentic strong dollar policy would mean that no dollar can be created that did not have “an equal amount” of gold/silver in bank vaults – in essence a 100% gold dollar.  These two acts would guarantee a strong dollar and insure that the dollar would remain the world’s reserve currency.    Moreover, a fully redeemable dollar would likely lead to other nations adopting similar measures.

A gold-backed dollar would also head off China’s not too subtle attempt at replacement of the Greenback with the Yuan as the world’s reserve currency.  Its “Belt & Road Initiative,” its massive accumulation of gold, and other actions are all aimed at making the Yuan the dominant world currency which, if successful, will have catastrophic financial repercussions for the US and Western Europe.

Gold-backed money will not only have positive international effects, but domestic benefits as well.  Crippling price inflation that has been intentionally under reported by government statistics will be a thing of the past.  Prices in a gold-backed currency will actually fall, raising living standards for everyone.

Without the ability of the Federal Reserve to create money out of thin air, the massive federal budget deficits would have to be dealt with.  And, without the Fed’s purchasing of US debt, the government would be forced to make cuts in spending.  Spending cuts would have to be deep and across the board.

Happily, under such a scenario, reduction in spending would mean a pull back in the American Empire.  The US would simply not have the resources to maintain bases abroad or involve itself in the countless conflicts and wars it is now engaged in.  It is more likely that when the American Empire comes to an end, it will not be because of a military defeat, but because it can no longer be sustained financially.

Sadly, under current ideological conditions, a return to gold money is not on the financial horizon.  It will most likely take a collapse of the irredeemable paper monetary system before commodity-backed money is re-established as a general medium of exchange.

It is clear from the recent exchange among Trump Administration financial officers that the same dollar policy will continue, which will lead to an inevitable dollar crisis and certain political disaster for the President.

* “Trump Wades Into the Currency Uproar, Favours ‘Strong Dollar,’ Government & Economy.”  Brit Asian News  26 January 2018.  http://britasiannews.com/en/2018/01/25/trump-wades-into-currency-uproar-favours-strong-dollar-government-economy/

**Inflation Alert: Trump Also favors Low Interest Rates, Weak Dollar.”  Weekly Market Wrap. 6 May 2016.  https://www.moneymetals.com/podcasts/2016/05/06/trump-supports-weak-dollar-000864

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

 

 

Bitcoin: A Tower of Monetary Babel

Bitcoin Fiat Currency

The promoters of crypto currencies have gushingly touted them as the mechanism by which the present central banking cabal and the system of nation states which derive much of their power from will be brought down and replaced by digital money.  Despite their meteoric rise as speculative “assets,” there are fundamental economic reasons why they will never act as a general medium of exchange despite the wild enthusiasm for them by the crypto-currency cultists.

Money – a general medium of exchange – is the most marketable (exchangeable) commodity in an economy.  As a good, money is not sought after for its direct use – to satisfy individual wants – but to satisfy wants indirectly through exchange for other goods.  Over time, one good becomes money since it possesses qualities superior to all other goods as a money.  When gold became demanded not for its “use value,” but for its “exchange value,” it became a general medium of exchange – money.

As a consumer good, gold possessed a value or a “price” prior to it becoming a money, as the eminent monetary theorist Murray Rothbard explains:

. . . embedded in the demand for money is knowledge

of the money-prices of the immediate past; in contrast

to directly-used consumers’ or producers’ goods, money

must have pre-existing prices on which to ground a demand.

But the only way this can happen is by beginning with a useful

commodity under barter, and then adding demand for a

medium to the previous demand for direct use (e.g., for

ornaments in the case of gold.)*

Thus, Bitcoin’s “price” is not in terms of its original commodity price, but its price is in terms of dollars, Euros, yuan, etc.  In the dollar’s case, it was at one time linked to gold, but has since been severed from it while Bitcoin has had no such relationship.

Once money is established, then prices are expressed in terms of it and thus economic calculation can rationally take place and the division of labor and specialization can be expanded.  Rothbard continues:

       The establishment of money conveys another great

benefit.  Since all exchanges are made in money, all the

exchange-ratios are expressed in money, and so people

can now compare the market worth of each good to that

of every other good.**

Once gold became money, the price of goods became expressed in gold not in other elements – nickel, zinc, lead, etc.  With the proliferation of crypto currencies, there will be a myriad of different price ratios for each good.  There will be a Bitcoin price for a car, an Ethereum price for a car, a Dogecoin price of a car, and so on.  This is the antithesis of the purpose of money – one unit of account that reflect prices for all commodities as Rothbard shows:

 

Because gold is a general medium it is most marketable,

it can be stored to serve as a medium in the future as well

as the present, and all prices are expressed in its terms.

Because gold is a commodity medium for all exchanges,

it can serve as a unit of account for present, and expected

future, prices.  It is important to realize that money cannot

be an abstract unit of account or claim, except insofar as it

serves as a medium of exchange.***  [my emphasis]

Crypto currencies, therefore, directly violate one of the main principles of monetary theory.  The vast array of digital money, all with unique price ratios (to say the least of their volatility), would make economic calculation and rational planning next to impossible.  In this sense, the current world of fiat dollars would be preferable to a Tower of Monetary Babel that digital currencies would create.

Central banks and governments do not fear crypto currency challengers to their monetary hegemony.  They, of course, jealously monitor the crypto market worried that any gains accrued may not be subject to tax.  Central banksters do fear gold for it remains, despite being demonetized, the last check on profligate central bank monetary expansion.  And, because countries who wisely understand gold’s importance and seek to get out from under the yoke of King Dollar (most notably China and Russia), continue to voraciously accumulate the yellow metal.

The return of true prosperity will only come about when gold is once again at the center of the monetary order and fiat currencies such as the dollar, Euro, and now Bitcoin are forgettable memories of a misguided and corrupt age.

*Murray N. Rothard, What Has Government Done to Our Money?  Novato, CA.: Libertarian Publishers, 8th printing, January 1981.

**Ibid., 4-5.

***Ibid., 5.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

The Ultimate Regulatory Reform: Abolish Fractional Reserve Banking!

fractional reserve banking II

The Trump Administration has presented the first part of its plan to overhaul a number of Wall Street financial regulations, many of which were enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  The report is in response to Executive Order 13772 in which the US Treasury Department is to provide findings “examining the United States’ financial regulatory system and detailing executive actions and regulatory changes that can be immediately undertaken to provide much-needed relief.”*

In release of the first phase of the report, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin stated: “Properly structuring regulation of the U.S. financial system is critical to achieve the administration’s goal of sustained economic growth and to create opportunities for all Americans to benefit from a stronger economy.  We are focused on encouraging a market environment where consumers have more choices, access to capital and safe loan products – while ensuring taxpayer-funded bailouts are truly a thing of the past.”**

Some of its highlights include:

  • Community financial institutions – banks and credit unions – are critically important to serve many Americans
  • Capital, liquidity and leverage rules can be simplified to increase the flow of credit
  • We must ensure our banks are globally competitive
  • Improving market liquidity is critical for the U.S. economy
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau must be reformed
  • Regulations need to be better tailored, more efficient and effective
  • Congress should review the organization and mandates of the independent banking regulators to improve accountability***

 

Not surprisingly, most of the banking industry expressed support for the report, critics (mostly Democrats) pointed out that it would lead to the type of practices that produced the 2008 panic in the first place.  Both opponents and those in favor as well as the clueless financial press fail to grasp the underlying cause of not only the recent crisis, but the majority of those which have occurred for the past century.

Quite simply: the fundamental cause of the 2008 financial crisis was fractional-reserve banking (FRB).  FRB is the practice whereby banks keep a “fraction” of the funds deposited by customers in their vaults lending out the rest at interest and “profit.”  Banks are thus inherently unstable since if all depositors came at once and demanded their money (a “bank run”), banks could not be able to redeem their deposits.  Moreover, FRB encourages banks to engage in exceedingly speculative and risky behavior which creates unsustainable bubbles throughout the economy.

The nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, was created by the banksters and politicos to enshrine this immoral and economically ruinous practice into the heart of the American financial landscape.  Any “reform” of Wall Street’s financial practices that does not address FRB by doing away with it and the institution (the Fed) which enables it to exist, is doomed.

The banks in collusion with the Fed are able to expand the money supply through this process while enriching the banksters’ balance sheet.  On the macro level, the creation of money through FRB is the genesis of the destructive boom-bust cycle.

This is why banks and the entire financial system are so prone to reoccurring crisis and no regulation, reform, or Treasury Department “findings,” can make such a system “stable.”  The only true reform is to abolish FRB and establish a monetary order that requires all financial institutions to keep 100% reserves of depositors’ assets.

The Treasury Department’s recommendations are mere window dressing by the very banksters whose opulent livelihoods are predicated on FRB.

The elimination of FRB would go beyond a beneficial financial revolution, but would affect the foreign policy of the USSA.  Without the ability to create money via FRB, the murderous American Empire could simply not exist, nor would the nation’s draconian domestic security state.

With his selection of crony capitalists and members of Goldman Sachs to his economic team, it is apparent that President Trump does not understand the true nature of the nation’s financial woes or what precipitated the last financial crisis and what will assuredly lead to a far bigger mess down the road.  If he did, his next Executive Order would be to implement steps and procedures to eliminate the scourge of fractional reserve banking forever.

*U.S. Department of the Treasury, “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities.”  6 June 2017.  https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0106.aspx

**Ibid.

***Ibid.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

Donald & the Dollar

donald-dollar

John Connally, President Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury, once remarked to the consternation of Europe’s financial elites over America’s inflationary monetary policy, that the dollar “is our currency, but your problem.”  Times have certainly changed and it now appears that the dollar has become an American problem.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the soon to be 45th President of the United States believes that the greenback’s strength – up some 25% against a broad basket of currencies since 2014 – is now “too strong,” “killing us,” and has hurt companies trying to compete overseas.* A top Trump economics advisor, Anthony Scaramucci, reinforced his boss’ sentiment adding that “we must be careful of a rising dollar.”

Apparently, making America great again does not include the nation’s monetary standard.  Trump’s belief that the dollar is too strong also shows a distinct lack of historical understanding.  Every great nation and empire (which Trump promises to restore America to) had a sound monetary system.  It is no coincidence that the pound sterling was the world’s “reserve currency” at the time when the British Empire was at its height.  Debasement of it to finance Britain’s insane decision to enter World War I led, in large part, to the eventual loss of its empire.  If Trump truly seeks to restore American greatness at home and its prestige throughout the world, devaluating the currency is not the way to go.

Nor does a weakened dollar benefit the middle class whom the president elect throughout the campaign has pledged to help.  In fact, it has been the fall in the purchasing power of the dollar due to the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve which have decimated the living standard of the middle class.  And, while the proposed Trumpian middle class tax cuts will help, just as important is a sound monetary system if Middle America is to become a creditor class once again.

Pensioners and retirees, another group that Trump has promised to help, would continue to see their financial condition decline under a policy to weaken the dollar. A fall in the purchasing power of money would devastate the income stream of pensions and social security payments.

While a weaker dollar policy would hurt the middle class, retirees, and savers, it would benefit the most responsible for the continued economic doldrums of America – banksters and the government.  A weaker dollar would allow the government to continue to borrow and maintain its profligate spending.  Financial houses and the banksters would receive credit at nearly zero cost which would allow them to continue to blow bubbles in the asset markets.  Export firms, too, would benefit at least for a while, but would more than likely face retribution from foreign governments and central banks which would retaliate with their own devaluations sparking potential currency wars.

Talk of “currency manipulation,” “weakening the dollar,” “trade deals,” and the like do not address what lies at the heart of not only America, but the Western world’s economic problem – too much debt.  The reason why the West has been able to incur its current gargantuan level of debt is not because of a “weak” or a “strong” dollar, but because the dollar is a fiat currency not backed by any commodity.  A true gold standard, where each currency unit represents either gold or silver, provides monetary discipline which prevents politicians and banksters from incurring ruinous levels of debt.

Since money is the lifeblood of an economy, any hope that one can be turned around without a stable monetary order is, to say the least, delusional.  If president-elect Trump and his policy makers do not realize this, they will be severely disappointed in the years to come.  Sound money allows for the accumulation of savings and capital formation, the essential elements of the market economy and the only basis upon which real economic growth can occur.  More savings and capital are needed to boost production and create employment, not supposedly wiser and more competent international trade negotiators.

Talk of currency devaluation is what is typically heard from banana republics, it should not be advocated by those who have aspirations of making their country great again.

*Tyler Durden, “Dollar Tumbles After Trump Calls Currency ‘Too Strong,’ Slams Border-Adjustment Tax.”  Zero Hedge.  17 January 2017.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com/