Today we have assembled a panel of independent experts with unique perspectives. We are recording this in late January, and it has already been a dramatic year. After rebounding from a brutal start, the U.S. stock market is still down 5%, while Europe, Japan and China have all declined approximately 8%.
If advocates of freedom were to make up a list of New Year’s resolutions for 2016, one of the most important items should be ending government’s monopoly control over money. In a free society, people in the marketplace should decide what they wish to use as money, not the government.
The media are, of course, almost uniformly Leftist – which means they just about always toe the Party line. Including the belief that in order to help the poor – government must perpetually grow. Of course we conservatives also want to help the poor – we just think shrinking government is the way to actually do it.
Beginning in 1983 the government changed its method of calculation to show lower inflation by excluding food and energy, claiming they were too volatile to be reliable indicators. The result is the so-called “core inflation” CPI, which is a favorite of the Federal Reserve. The latest figure for this CPI reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 0.4% (for August and also July), but if calculated by the method used in 1980 the inflation rate would be 7½ percent, as shown by Shadow Government Statistics (ShadowStats.com).
There is no way to describe current Federal Reserve policy other than as monetary confusion and misdirection. In a nutshell, Janet Yellen and the other members of the Fed’s Board of Governors have no idea what to do. Do they raise certain interest rates over which they have some direct influence? Do they keep them at their current rock bottom levels, as they have for the last six years?
When is the price of some marketable good or service at or near zero? When either the supply of it is so plentiful that virtually any demand, no matter how great, can be satisfied. Or when no matter how large or small the supply of it may be, people’s demand for it is so low that nobody is willing to practically pay anything for it.
For over a decade, now, the American economy has been on an economic rollercoaster, of an economic boom between 2003 and 2008, followed by a severe economic downturn, and with a historically slow and weak recovery starting in 2009 up to the present.
Financial markets in the United States and around the world are all waiting with “bated breath” for when the Federal Reserve modifies its “easy money” policy and starts to raise interest rates. No one, however, asks a simple question: Why is the American central bank in the interest rate setting business?
In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway is joined by Commonwealth Foundation Vice President of Policy Analysis Nate Benefield. Hathaway and Benefield discuss a new bill being proposed in the Pennsylvania legislature, the Taxpayer Protection Act.
The European Central Bank has announced its intention to create out of thin air over one trillion new Euros from March 2015 to September 2016. The rationale, the monetary central planners say, is to prevent price deflation and “stimulate” the European economy into prosperity.
The only problem with their plan is that their concern about “deflation” is a misguided fear, and printing money can never serve as a long-term solution to bring about sustainable economic growth and prosperity
Eighty years ago, in the autumn of 1934, there appeared in English one of the most important books on money and inflation penned in the twentieth century, The Theory of Money and Creditby the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises. Even eight decades later, it still offers the clearest analysis and understanding of booms and busts, inflations and depressions.
It is an old adage that there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. Nowhere is this truer that in the government’s monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) that tracks the prices for a selected “basket” of goods to determine changes in people’s cost-of-living and, therefore, the degree of price inflation in the American economy.
For more than a decade, now, Federal Reserve policy has been guided by the fear of one economic bogyman: the presumed danger of “price deflation.” The fear is unfounded and the inflationary “solution” only leads to disaster.
Today’s economy is driven by Washington in more than just determining the location of Maserati dealerships. We see the ramifications of current government policies in numerous obvious ways. Make full-time employment more expensive with required benefits, and suddenly there are more part-time jobs; provide ample benefits and low eligibility standards for defining disabled workers, and suddenly there are more long-term unemployed going on SSDI; keep interest rates at zero, and suddenly there are more elderly workers; end unemployment insurance, and suddenly you see people accepting jobs they were reluctant to take; and as we’ve seen at the state and local level, raise the minimum wage, and suddenly teens are struggling to find work.
For more than two hundred years, practically all of the leading advocates of individual liberty and free markets have assumed that money and banking were different from other types of goods and markets. From Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, the presumption has been that competitive markets and free consumer choice are far better than government control and planning – except in the realm of money and financial intermediation. They have been wrong on this important issue.
Governments have an insatiable appetite for the wealth of their subjects. When governments find it impossible to continue raising taxes or borrowing funds, they have invariably turned to printing paper money to finance their growing expenditures. The resulting inflations have often undermined the social fabric, ruined the economy, and sometimes brought revolution and tyranny in their wake. The political economy of the French Revolution is a tragic example of this.
This year marks one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War in the summer of 1914. The Great War, as it used to be called, brought great devastation in its wake. Millions of human lives were lost on the battlefields of Europe; vast amounts of accumulated wealth were consumed to cover the costs of combat; and battles and bombs left a large amount of physical capital in ruins. But the “war to end war,” as it was called, also resulted in another weapon of economic mass destruction – an orgy of paper-money inflations.