|July 22nd, 2009||#1|
History of Money in America
July 21, 2009
There were a lot of inconveniences when the Pilgrims came here and settled, not the least of which was that most of them died in the first winter! The Jamestown Colony, a few years earlier, came out even worse. Just imagine: No electricity, oil, machinery, transportation, or communications, and rudimentary tools made growing things extremely difficult. They brought English coins with them, but there were no banks, and little paper either, so there were no banknotes. No gold or silver mines, so their gold and silver had to be imported. Actually, the first paper money in the New World, was issued in 1690, to pay troops fighting the French, in what was called "King William's War." Pennsylvania issued paper money in 1723, and in 1729 Ben Franklin wrote a paper titled, "A Modest Inquiry into the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency." That suited him fine, as he was rewarded with the printing contract to turn out paper money. As with all paper money however, it was soon discounted in favor of gold and silver. Gresham's Law says that 'bad money drives out good money.' The bad money (paper) drives the good money (gold and silver) out of circulation and into safes, and under mattresses, because it holds its value and is safe to save in, as opposed to today's dollars, and the paper money in 1729. 'Bad money" (paper) was printed recklessly, and North Carolina in the 1730's, had 17 different 'bad monies' in circulation.
America was soon on its feet, and began manufacturing and exporting various things, not only to the rest of the colonies (states) but overseas. By 1774, Philadelphia alone had more than 300 workers making carriages. Others in Philadelphia, Charleston and Boston were making furniture which was the equivalent of any made overseas. By 1770, there were over 2 million Americans. Mother England was heavily dependent on the new colonies for their taxes. When she fought the French and Indian War, Mother England found herself heavily in debt, and to pay that, she raised taxes on youthful America so much, that we revolted. We won, but fought it with paper money, and once again, history repeated itself, when the "Continental" dollar went to zero, after the presses had their way. From that, came the expression, 'not worth a continental.'
Spanish gold 'dollar' coins were in circulation, and had been clipped into smaller sizes of halves, quarters, and eighths, from where the term 'pieces of eight' came, as well as 'two bits.' Tom Jefferson thought that halves, quarters and tenths were better than eighths, and he coined the word 'dime.' British shillings stayed around for a while, since the population was increasing faster than the mint could produce US coinage. Shillings were eighths, or twelve and a half cents. "Two Bits" which we still use, then, is a quarter. The Philadelphia Mint was established in 1792, and of course is still in existence. The first official US coin, was made of copper and privately produced. It bore the motto, "Mind Your Business."
The word 'dollar,' came from the German 'thal' or 'valley.' Major silver deposits were uncovered in Bohemia, (now the Czech Republic), and in 1519, the owner of some of the mines began minting silver coins weighing a Saxon ounce, and were called 'thalers' or 'from the valley.' The thaler met with instant success and acceptance, and eventually, the entire Holy Roman Empire used thalers in exchange for goods and services for hundreds of years. "Thaler" became "dollar" in English. Silver coins weighing an ounce were in use for hundreds of years, with no inflation of course. The current Silver Eagle weight is exactly one Troy Ounce, which imitates the old thaler, which was around for centuries. The extinct US silver dollar never weighed a full ounce, but has .77344 of an ounce of pure silver plus alloy to harden it. Silver dimes have .07234 ounce of pure silver plus alloy to harden them. Silver quarters have .18084 of pure silver in them, plus alloy harden them, and silver halves have .36169 of pure silver in them plus alloy to harden them.
Dollars are still around, and for some strange reason are still considered the 'reserve currency of the world.' In other words, oil, gold, silver, and a few others are still priced in dollars. How long this will remain is unknown. In the good old days before FDR, the dollar was a twentieth of an ounce of gold. For over a hundred years, gold was $20.67 per ounce. FDR, after trying to collect America's gold to facilitate his programs to get America out of the first great depression, then raised the price of gold to $35 per ounce, thereby robbing American citizens of billions of dollars. Raising the price of gold, actually devalued the dollar, and it is still being devalued rapidly by endless printing of it. Gold and silver prices are no longer controlled by governments, but the market prices them, as the market prices oil and virtually everything bought with a currency.
All currencies are doing down in value, because all governments possess that typical universal governmental habit, and that is the habit of spending far more than they take in, never balancing its budgets, and taxing everyone by devaluing currencies. The 'buck' has been used as a slang word for dollar for a long time. It is thought to have come from 'buckskin,' when Indian traders in the old west, bought buckskins for dollars. Just remember, no paper money in history, regardless of time or nation, has ever survived. All have originally gone to zero, and it has happened three times in America already. The Continental, Greenback, and Confederate currencies all went to zero because of being printed by governments to pay for excesses and wars. The buck or dollar has lost about 98% of its value in the last 75 years, and it still goes down, which means prices still go up, and will go up. So, why save surplus assets in dollars? Why set to sea in a leaky boat? Why buy a home which is full of termites? Why buy a car with a bad engine? All are utterly stupid.
|July 22nd, 2009||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2004
Blog Entries: 2
The Ascent of Money
The Ascent of Money Episode 3: Risky Business
The Ascent of Money Episode 2: Bonds of War
The Ascent of Money Episode 1: From Bullion to Bubbles
Watch the two-hour program THE ASCENT OF MONEY online now.
Buy the DVD: THE ASCENT OF MONEY
|September 1st, 2009||#4|
Driving a Fiat Currency into a Tree
by Richard Daughty
Floy Lilley at the Mises Institute, in her essay at LewRockwell.com, notes that the gold-standard dollar “provided us with nothing less than relative peace and prosperity over a span of 136 years” until that fateful year, 1913.
So how does she quantify “relative peace and security”? Well, one good way is to look at the value of the dollar, which would be strong if the country was a good investment, which it was, and in fact, “It had not only retained one hundred percent of its value, it had gained eleven percent. That’s right. The dollar we started with in 1776 bought us eleven percent more after almost seven generations.”
Then, on the “quiet 23rd of December in 1913,” J.P. Morgan and buddies got Congressional quislings to pass legislation authorizing the creation of the Federal Reserve, and to which I add that the jerk Woodrow Wilson then signed it, thus going down in history as the disastrous guy who set in motion the destruction of the dollar by the Federal Reserve creating excess money and credit.
She doesn’t make a point of it, but back then, the dollar was still gold, and thanks to the loathsome Federal Reserve creating the money to finance the bubbles of The Roaring Twenties that resulted in the Great Depression, the despicable Supreme Court infamously ruled in 1933 (and upheld by every traitorous Supreme Court case since then) that, contrary to what the Constitution said, the dollar did not have to be made of silver or gold, and that a paper “fiat” currency could be created, without limit, for any reason, even at a mere whim, anytime, day or night, 24/7, including holidays, not realizing that they were the idiots that REALLY destroyed the dollar! Gaahhh!
With this kind of disastrous stupidity, I dryly and humorlessly ask that you don’t talk to me about any “wisdom” emanating from the Supreme Court.
I was hoping that Ms. Lilley would spontaneously pick up on the theme of “heap scorn on the Federal Reserve for creating too much money and credit out of thin air and the despicable Supreme Court for letting them.”
I was going to suggest that she could, you know, maybe even put in an endorsement for the Mogambo Mindless Mob (MMM) brand of products, like the popular Mogambo Pitchfork (very effective when brandished threateningly) and the classic Mogambo Flaming Torches that will be so hard to get when the proletariat bozos start forming mindless mobs bent on revenge after so much hurting from the horrifying inflation in consumer prices, the pervasive, lingering economic depression, ruination, bankruptcy and the embarrassment of realizing that it was caused by the people we elected to Congress, who picked the people to run the Federal Reserve, which is the biggest failure one can imagine and should be immediately abolished, how Ben Bernanke, its chairman, should be turned over to me for some sessions at my new Mogambo Re-Education Center, where our muscular, trained technicians will slap the hell out of his stupid face, and the stupid faces of Congresspersons (except Ron Paul), and the stupid faces of anyone who still believes in getting, or giving, a free lunch to, or from, anyone, especially the government, which is so corrupt that it once gave smallpox-infected blankets to the American Indians, which is only marginally worse than destroying the currency of the country and makes you reflexively scream in horror every time you see the money supply go up.
Well, it does me, anyway.
Instead, she goes on that the result was that since then, “the purchasing power of a dollar has plummeted over 95%,” which means that “We now pay twenty times more than J.P. Morgan did for any item.” Yikes!
Suddenly, my ears pricked up as she said, “Few have written on the mechanics of getting back to sound money,” which I immediately noticed makes me a genius, meaning that people should worship my gigantic brain, my wife and kids should stop calling me “idiot” and saying how much they hate me and maybe I should get a Nobel Prize.
The reason I am suddenly so enamored of my intellect is that achieving a “sound money” is the easiest thing in the world! Just stop creating more of it! That’s all you need! It’s simple! It is my Profound Mogambo Genius (PMG) that has solved the puzzle!
Okay, I am embarrassed that I got carried away there, and I admit that I am not very smart, and that is why I stole the whole idea from the fact that this is all the gold standard did; it prevented increases in the money supply, and the only thing that Congress had to worry about was doing smart things so that gold came into the country (increasing our money supply) and not doing something so stupid that it went someplace else better (decreasing our money supply).
But those days are all over now, and the only people who are buying gold, along with silver and oil, are the people who know what happens to an unsound, fiat currency (like the dollar) in the hands of a government composed of a bunch of socialist, commie-think yahoos (like the US Congress) that willingly deficit-spends insane amounts of money thanks to a central bank (like the Federal Reserve) creating it and a population sitting around saying, “Duh! Okay with us!” Hahaha!
September 1, 2009
|October 28th, 2009||#5|
THE STAGES OF DISINTEGRATION
The first stage is the initial boom created by the central bank's increase in the money supply. This is offset by the subsequent recession, when property owners and money holders re-price their assets downward.
The second stage is the infusion of more fiat money by the central bank. This is done in an attempt to offset the recession, which is the outcome of individuals' decisions to re-price their assets and adjust their budgets accordingly.
This second stage fails unless the public is misled sufficiently to re-price their assets and readjust their budgeting once again. But this re-pricing and budget readjustment are based on false information. The spread of misinformation increases, along with the fiat money.
When the deception is again discovered, the recession reappears. But the misallocation of capital is even worse at this stage than it was in the first stage. The deception has gone on longer.
So, the central bank must intervene again. And again. Prices increase. The government's official price index rises. This is a threat to incumbent politicians.
The politicians want the central bank to intervene again. If it does, the economy will move to double-digit price inflation, the way it did in the United States in 1979 and 1980.
The central bankers must then decide whether to continue to increase the monetary base. If they do, the economy moves to mass inflation, which I define as consumer price increases above 20% but below 50%.
This is not hyperinflation. Stage three is hyperinflation, where prices rise above 50% per annum. Stage three is characterized by a flight out of money into commodities, foreign currencies, and precious metals. Because the precious metals are thin markets, their rise vastly exceeds the consumer price index or commodities in general. Only if central banks, as an international guild, sell gold into the private markets, never to return, can this outcome be postponed.
STAGE TWO POINT FIVE: PRICE CONTROLS
In between mass inflation and hyperinflation, the government may declare price ceilings. In this case, the central bank continues to buy government debt, the government continues to spend it, and recipients deposit the money in their banks. If bankers continue to lend, the money supply increases.
With rising prices in the free market – now identified as black markets – and laws against selling at market-bid prices, goods and services become more scarce. That is, at an artificially low price, there is greater demand than supply. The availability of goods erodes away.
The United States experienced this from 1942 to 1946. The government created ration cards: non-monetary tickets that supposedly allowed holders to buy a specific quantity of goods. Result: quality went down on the legal markets.
This system was described best by a Russian workers' slogan in the Soviet era: "The bosses pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work."
The result is reduced wealth for participants in the legal markets, increased risk for participants in the black markets, and politicians who blame black marketeers for the shortages.
There are two ways out of this stage: (1) the stabilization of money, the fall in prices, and the abolition of controls; (2) the abolition of controls and an increase in the money supply.
Let us consider the first alternative. If the controls had produced shortages on a massive scale, as they did from 1942 to 1946 in the United States, the removal of controls, coupled with stable money or even monetary deflation, does not cause a depression. The United States after 1946 is such a case.
The classic case in modern history was West Germany after the currency reform of June 1948. The economics minister, Ludwig Earhard, unilaterally abolished price and wage controls. This was on a Sunday evening. The next morning, hoarded goods began to reappear. This was the beginning of what came to be known as the German economic miracle. It was a miracle in the same sense that any modern economy is: a complex system of coordination that no civil government committee or group of committees can understand, let alone match.
Let us consider the second alternative.
STAGE THREE: HYPERINFLATION
Hyperinflation is when money dies. The official currency buys little of value. Output falls. People are reduced to selling off heirlooms and luxury goods for alternative currencies: gold coins, silver coins, and that most widely accepted currency, cigarettes.
The classic modern case of hyperinflation is Germany, 1921–23. A readable book on this social disaster is Adam Ferguson's book, When Money Dies (1975). It is subtitled, "The Nightmare of the Weimar Collapse." You can read it here.
An older, more academic, and widely respected book is Constantino Brresciani-Turroni's The Economics of Inflation: A Study of Currency Depreciation in Post-War Germany (1931). It is available free here.
A fine novel on this era is Erich Remarque's The Black Obelisk (1956). He is more famous for All Quiet on the Western Front.
Whenever a contemporary economic analyst predicts hyperinflation in the United States, he is likely to offer the German inflation as his example of how bad things can get. The problem with this approach is that it ignores the last nine decades of American urbanization. We do not live in post-World War I Germany. We do not live in the relatively low division of labor society of post-War Germany.
In 1921, Germany was a militarily defeated nation. It had gone through years of price controls and rationing. The war had destroyed urban capital. The population was still mainly rural or small town: around 70%. There were about 60 million people. The largest city was Berlin, with about two million people. No other city was over a million, and most of the dozen large ones were in the 600,000 range.
The degree of specialization in Germany in 1921 compared to the United States today was minimal. Food was available without long supply routes from farm areas into cities. Money was mainly currency. It was not fractionally reserved digital money in banks. Most people did not have bank accounts. People could barter.
Today, hyperinflation would threaten supply lines into cities: food, gasoline, coal (electrical power). It would threaten the production of crops, which is a highly mechanized business. It would make food costs central in household budgets. Instead of spending about 10% of our income on food, as Americans do today, we would likely spend half or more. Unemployment would be widespread – the people not producing vital services.
The breakdown of modern urban society is unthinkable. Central bank economists know this. They are urban. They are tenured or close to it.
I do not think central bankers will move to a hyperinflation scenario. To do so would be opposed to their personal self-interest. At some point, they will tell their respective treasury departments, "you're on your own."
Then will come the great default.
Money today is monetized debt. Central banks and commercial banks monetize debt.
If they move to hyperinflation, they will kill money. When money dies, urban people will die.
If they do not move toward mass inflation, they will create a new Great Depression. We almost had this in late 2008.
There is no pain-free way out of this dilemma. Central bankers want to delay the day of reckoning. So do politicians. So do investment fund managers.
The governments are all running huge deficits. Central banks follow policies of low interest rates. The extent of the prior misallocation of resources is becoming harder to conceal.
The powers that be will cease to be powers if money dies. They have based their political control and their wealth on their control of digital money. This is the line to which the hook of state power is attached. To destroy the currency is to break this line. Better a new Great Depression than hyperinflation, if you are a central banker.
If money dies, a lot more than money will die. This includes Bernanke's pension. He knows this.
October 28, 2009
Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.
|October 31st, 2009||#6|
[Paul explains that the dollar is a monopoly - it is legally protected from competition, and the feds do break down doors to smash anyone who tries to circulate honest money.]
Ron Paul: Let the dollar prove itself
By Ron Paul, Special to CNN
October 30, 2009
Washington, D.C. (CNN) -- A growing number of Americans are becoming aware of the Federal Reserve System, what it is, how it has precipitated our financial crisis, and how it continues to pursue policies that delay economic recovery and weaken the dollar.
The Fed's actions, combined with the federal government's bailout bills and stimulus packages, have struck a nerve in the American people.
Recent polls have shown that more than 75 percent of Americans support efforts to audit the Fed, something which my bill, HR 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, aims to do. HR 1207 has the support of 304 members of Congress, and the Senate version of the bill, S. 604, is supported by 31 U.S. senators.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has embarked on an ambitious program of monetary expansion, more than doubling the monetary base to almost $1.9 trillion and doubling the size of its balance sheet to over $2 trillion, placing the American economy in a precarious position.
If all this excess money begins to be loaned out, the Fed risks creating a hyperinflationary crisis similar to 1920s Germany. If the Fed contracts this money, it risks harming the banks it desperately wants to see bailed out.
It is imperative that the American people know what the Fed is up to, how much money it loans to banks and what types of agreements it enters into with foreign banks and governments. Just about all of this information is exempt from audit or oversight. The Fed's actions directly affect the value of the dollar, which is coming under increasing pressure from our foreign creditors. If we do not wish to see a complete collapse of the dollar, the Fed needs to be subject to a strict audit of its actions, if not an outright abolition of its charter.
While I would like nothing more than to see the Federal Reserve abolished, it is not absolutely necessary to do so with direct legislation.
The Fed's influence comes about because of its monopolization of the creation of money. If we could abolish the government monopoly on the creation of money, the Federal Reserve would be forced to clean up its act or go out of business. Economists know that monopolies lead to reduced output and higher prices, a suboptimal allocation of resources. This applies as well to the market for circulating currency as it does to markets for any other good.
In the previous Congress I introduced legislation that would eliminate the three major barriers to competition in currency and break the Fed's stranglehold on money.
The first barrier: Legal tender laws, which Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to enact. Historically, legal tender laws have been used by governments to force their citizens to accept debased and devalued currency.
Gresham's Law describes this phenomenon, which can be summed up in one phrase: Bad money drives out good money. In the absence of legal tender laws, Gresham's Law no longer holds. If people are free to reject debased currency, and instead demand sound money, sound money will gradually return to use in society.
The second barrier: laws that prohibit the operation of private mints. Certain sections of U.S. code classified as anti-counterfeiting statutes were in fact intended to shut down private mints that had been operating in California. There is no reason to ban private companies from minting gold and silver coins to compete with the dollar.
All currencies are based on trust, trust that the issuing authority will not debase the currency. If it becomes known that the issuer of a particular currency is minting underweight coins, people will stop accepting that currency and that company will go out of business. If someone else attempts to counterfeit that currency and pass those coins, there are sufficient counterfeiting laws on the books to prosecute those counterfeiters.
Merchants and individuals are free to choose which currencies they accept, and in the absence of legal tender laws I believe that alternative currencies will gain more traction.
Stores today can accept whatever currency they like. In Washington, DC a few years ago, some stores began accepting euros from international tourists. Harrod's in London accepts pounds, euros, and dollars. There is no legal requirement in the United States for a store to accept dollars for non-debt transactions.
If you walk into a 7-11 to buy a soda, the clerk doesn't have to accept your dollars, he could demand euros, silver, or copper. But because legal tender laws backing the dollar have caused the dollar to drive other currencies out of circulation, it is easier for stores to accept dollars.
However, most stores also accept credit cards, personal checks, and debit cards, none of which are legal tender. Some stores are moving to credit card-only transactions to minimize costs, which they are allowed to do.
Under a system of competing currencies, it would be to the advantage of stores to accept as many currencies as they could, in order to attract a wide range of customers. Stores that only accepted one currency would see their customer base shrink. The use of credit cards could simplify things just as it does today when Americans travel to Europe. They pay in euros with their credit card, and their card company bills in dollars. The market will find a solution to any problems that might arise.
The final barrier to competing currencies: Laws that assess capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coins. Under federal law, coins are considered collectibles, and are liable for capital gains taxes. These taxes actually tax monetary debasement. The purchasing power of gold may remain relatively constant, but as the nominal dollar value increases because of a weak dollar, the federal government considers this an increase in wealth and assesses taxes.
Thus, the more the dollar is debased, the more capital gains taxes must be paid on holdings of gold and other precious metals. For individuals who may wish to use gold and silver in everyday transactions, this can quickly become a complicated and costly burden.
The long-term strength of the dollar will only be weakened by maintaining the Fed's monopoly on our monetary system. Our foreign creditors are already moving to dethrone the dollar as the world's currency.
The prospect of American citizens also turning away from the dollar toward alternate currencies should provide an impetus to the U.S. government to regain control of the dollar and halt its downward spiral. Restoring soundness to the dollar will remove the government's ability and incentive to inflate the currency, and provide stability to the financial system. With a sound currency, everyone is better off, not just those who control the monetary system.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rep. Ron Paul.
|October 31st, 2009||#7|
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: San Jose, California
There are a lot of falsehoods in this article. Of course, it is published by a website that tries to sell gold and to convince Americans that gold is what we should trust.
The Continental Currency financed the Revolution and was carefully regulated by Franklin and the other patriots so as not to devalue it. However, the English and the Bank of England counterfeited the Continental and flooded the country with fake money in order to rob the Revolution of buying power. That is the real reason it was "not worth a continental". But this gold-buyers website wants you to believe that it was the paper money, itself, that was to blame.
There are numerous other falsehoods and twisted histories in this article but I don't want to take any more time with them. The above are the most glaring examples.
|April 1st, 2012||#8|
[will file all war-on-cash articles in here]
Cash for Freedom
by Charles Goyette
The below article is an excerpt from Charles Goyette's bi-weekly Freedom & Prosperity Letter podcast, Cash for Freedom, originally published on March 22, 2012. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click here.
The one thing about cash is that it is anonymous. And that's the one thing that intrusive governments don't like about it.
Governments hate that cash gives you anonymity. And they are often very anxious to track it and to control your use of it. They often attempt to criminalize the use of cash or at least criminalize having too much of it around.
Right now, 7% of the U.S. economy is cash-based. Across the Eurozone, it's a little bit higher, 9%, but in Sweden cash transactions are falling by the wayside. You can't use cash for buses there. A growing number of businesses are going entirely cashless. In fact, only 3% of all purchases in Sweden are transacted in cash. And some people think that 3% is too much.
Now, there are things you give up when you go cashless, and privacy is only one of them. Because you also give up a piece of every transaction to the facilitating financial institution, a state-approved financial institution that is going to take a cut one way or another of every purchase that it processes. And that cut will be paid by you.
In the United States, the government has implemented increasingly punitive and burdensome measures for those who use cash. Banks, for example, are required to file reports on the use of cash in certain circumstances, including suspicious persons reports for some cash activities. In fact, if you seem to be trying to transact in cash below the reporting threshold, that alone can trigger a suspicious persons report on you. Like a lot of the states' heavy-handed measures, this was all targeted at getting those drug dealers.
And you see how well that worked out.
Now, there are plenty of perfectly good reasons for someone to wish to do business in cash and anonymously. This is an age of home invasions and identity thefts. So the desire to do business in cash can simply be prudent. I mean, you wouldn't want to leave a receipt laying around in some business where you bought some expensive piece of jewelry for your wife, for example, for her birthday.
But equally important is this: In a free country, your transactions shouldn't be anybody else's business. And that's the bottom line.
At least it's the bottom line in a free country.
For a free and prosperous country, I'm Charles Goyette.
March 31, 2012
Charles Goyette [send him mail] is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dollar Meltdown. His new book is Red and Blue and Broke All Over: Restoring America’s Free Economy. He is also editor of Freedom & Prosperity Letter, a monthly political and financial newsletter dedicated to revealing the truth about the U.S.'s political scene and economic climate. To learn more, go here.
|May 21st, 2013||#9|
Are You Coming To Hear Him?
Posted by Lew Rockwell on May 16, 2013 02:23 PM
Writes David Gordon:
David Stockman's The Great Deformation is an indispensable book, packed with insights and careful historical analysis. The massive bailouts injected into the economy by the Bush Administration in response to the 2008 crisis were not needed to stave off a collapse of the monetary system. To the contrary, Stockman shows, they were a triumph of "crony capitalism." This nefarious system, based on massive government debt, has deep roots in twentieth-century economic history. Stockman offers one of the best discussions I have ever read of Roosevelt's New Deal, and the vital role of Richard Nixon on our road to financial ruin receives much needed stress. Neither Keynes nor Milton Friedman fares very well here, and readers will learn why the policies of both of them have led to disaster. The Great Deformation is a magnificent defense of a free economy and sound money.
Hear David at a Mises Breakfast in NYC!