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Showing posts with label Ludwig von Mises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ludwig von Mises. Show all posts

Saturday, July 13, 2013

How Should Prices Be Determined?


"How should prices be determined?" To this question we could make a short and simple answer: prices should be determined by the market.
The answer is correct enough, but some elaboration is necessary to answer the practical problem concerning the wisdom of government price control.
Let us begin on the elementary level and say that prices are determined by the supply and demand. If the relative demand for a product increases, consumers will be willing to pay more for it. Their competitive bids will both oblige them individually to pay more for it and enable producers to get more for it. This will raise the profit margins of the producers of that product.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Is “Austerity” Responsible for the Crisis in Europe?

by Martin Masse

Most European economies have been in recession, or close to it, since the beginning of 2012. Unemployment rates are reaching record highs. Meanwhile, a debate has been raging about the deleterious effects of “austerity” measures. Various heads of government, finance ministers, and European Union officials have declared that austerity has gone too far and is preventing a recovery.
Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman are seeing this as unassailable proof that stimulus policies adopted when the financial crisis started in 2008-09 should never have been reversed and replaced by austerity measures, notwithstanding the explosion of public debt that they entailed.
In the Keynesian view, when idle resources are left unused by the private sector, governments should put them to work. They should stop worrying about budget deficits and start spending again.
Whereas Keynesians and the rest of the economics profession see downturns as unexpected and disastrous events to be prevented, Austrian School economists explain them as the inevitable result of an earlier unsustainable boom provoked by excessive credit expansion and interventionist government policies.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What’s So Scary About Deflation?

 by Frank Hollenbeck

When it comes to deflation, mainstream economics becomes not the science of common sense, but the science of nonsense. Most economists today are quick to say, “a little inflation is a good thing,” and they fear deflation. Of course, in their personal lives, these same economists hunt the newspapers for the latest sales.

The person who epitomizes this fear of deflation best is Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve. His interpretation of the Great Depression has greatly biased his view against deflation.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Paradox of Imperialism

by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

The State

Conventionally, the state is defined as an agency with two unique characteristics. First, it is a compulsory territorial monopolist of ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction). That is, it is the ultimate arbiter in every case of conflict, including conflicts involving itself. Second, the state is a territorial monopolist of taxation. That is, it is an agency that unilaterally fixes the price citizens must pay for its provision of law and order.

Predictably, if one can only appeal to the state for justice, justice will be perverted in favor of the state. Instead of resolving conflict, a monopolist of ultimate decision-making will provoke conflict in order to settle it to his own advantage. Worse, while the quality of justice will fall under monopolistic auspices, its price will rise. Motivated like everyone else by self-interest but equipped with the power to tax, the state agents' goal is always the same: to maximize income and minimize productive effort.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Friedmanite Corruption of Capitalism


All throughout his new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, David A. Stockman is critical of the Chicago School, especially its intellectual leader during the last half of the twentieth century, Milton Friedman. He captures the irony of the so-called free-market Chicago School on the very first page of his introduction, where he writes of the “capture of the state, especially its central bank, the Federal Reserve, by crony capitalist forces deeply inimical to free markets and democracy.”
This is a deep irony because it was Chicago School economists such as George Stigler who wrote of the “capture theory of regulation” when it came to the trucking industry, the airline industry, and many others. That is, they produced dozens of scholarly articles demonstrating how government regulatory agencies ostensibly created to regulate industry “in the public interest” are most often “captured” by the industry itself and then used not to protect the public but to enforce cartel pricing arrangements.

The Rise and Fall of the Dollar


Over the last century America’s money—the dollar—has come to dominate the global monetary system. It is used not just by Americans, but in other countries, in the global black market, and by importers and exporters. And it is the primary reserve currency for central banks. This status is what Barry Eichengreen calls an “exorbitant privilege,” because it confers numerous benefits to individuals, companies, and governments. Collectively, it also confers the ability for Americans to consume beyond our ability to produce.
Professor Eichengreen in his book Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System, chronicles the rise of the dollar to world dominance, and what it means for the US. He then explores the possibilities of its demise and possible crash. The author should be commended for at times thinking outside the mainstream box, where such issues are often ignored.
He believes that the world is heading toward a state in which there are several reserve currencies, notably the euro and the Chinese renminbi. He maintains that a reserve currency status is based on economic strength: Europe has it and China and India are gaining it rapidly.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Learning from Mistakes


The old idiom “you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink” has proven itself true in the course of human learning. Or rather, it would be more accurate to label it man’s inability to learn from mistakes. You can hold a mirror up to grotesque instances of hypocrisy, but most men will remain mules – stubborn in their prejudice and beliefs. The ability to heed lessons from blunders is, often times, a skill unable to be mastered by the mass populace. A child might learn to not touch a searingly hot stove, but adults are apt to accept their condition of intellectual stupor – even when it proves painful.

Killing the Currency


. . . there is no record in the economic history of the whole world, anywhere or at any time, of a serious and prolonged inflation which has not been accompanied and made possible, if not directly caused, by a large increase in the quantity of money.

— Gottfried Haberler, Inflation, Its Causes and Cures (1960)[1]

The phrase “not worth a continental” may be vaguely familiar to Americans as an old and quirky saying, but to Revolutionary War–era Americans it would have been a harsh reminder of a recent nightmare. In order to finance the war, the Continental Congress authorized the issuance of money without rights of redemption in coin or precious metals (unlike other currencies in circulation). In short order, over $225 million Continentals were issued on top of an existing money supply of only $25 million. Initially traded on a one-for-one ratio with paper dollars backed by coin or precious metals, within a mere five years Continental currency had depreciated to worthlessness.[2] It was America’s first major experiment with a fiat currency, and it cost many newly free Americans their livelihood and savings.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stable Prices, Unstable Markets



According to European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sees no risk of inflation in the United States. According to Nowotny, Bernanke had given a “very optimistic” portrayal of the US outlook.
“They see absolutely no danger of an expansion in inflation,” Nowotny said. Bernanke had said US inflation should be 1.3 percent this year.
Fed forecasts put inflation by the end of this year in a range of 1.3 to 1.7 percent. The yearly rate of growth of the consumer price index (CPI) stood at 1.5 percent in March against 2 percent in February and 2.7 percent in March last year.
Also the growth momentum of the core CPI (the CPI less food and energy) has eased in March from the month before. Year-on-year the rate of growth has softened to 1.9 percent from 2 percent in February and 2.3 percent in March last year.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Truth About Economic Forecasting


Astrologers, palmists, and crystal-ball gazers are scorned while professional economists are heralded for their scientific achievements. Yet the academics are no less mystical in trying to predict the direction of interest rates, economic growth, and the stock market.
Forty years ago, Thomas Dewey was defeated by Harry Truman, stunning the political experts and journalists who were certain Dewey was going to win. While questions about “scientific” polling techniques naturally arose, one journalist focused on the heart of the matter. In his November 22, 1948, column in Newsweek, Henry Hazlitt said the “upset” reflected the pitfalls of forecasting man’s future. As Hazlitt explained:
The economic future, like the political future, will be determined by future human behavior and decisions. That is why it is uncertain. And in spite of the enormous and constantly growing literature on business cycles, business forecasting will never, any more than opinion polls, become an exact science.
We know how well economists forecasted the eighties: from the 1982 recession and the employment boom to the Crash of 1987, no major forecasting firm came close to predicting these turns in the market.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Banking and the State


“It had come to be accepted that the pigs, who were manifestly cleverer than the other animals, should decide all questions of farm policy, though their decisions had to be ratified by a majority vote.”
Orwell, G. (1989 [1945]), Animal Farm, S. 34.

The Starting Point: Civilization Begins

The founder of the Medici banking dynasty, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360–1429), said to his children on his death bed: “Stay out of the public eye.”[1] His words raise the question, "How much do bankers know about the truth of modern money and banking?"
To develop a meaningful answer to this question in the tradition of the Austrian School of economics, one has to start right at the beginning, and that is with the process of civilization.
Civilization denotes the development through which man substitutes the state of the division of labor and specialization (that is, peaceful and productive cooperation) for the state of subsistence (that is, a violent hand-to-mouth existence).
In his magnum opus Human Action (1949), Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) put forward a praxeological explanation of the process of civilization, which helps us understand the course of its evolution.[2]
To Mises, two factors are at the heart of the process of civilization: (1) There must be an inequality of wants and skills among people. This is a necessary condition for people to want to seek cooperation.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Want To Understand Money?


This was published on January 2, 2013, in Ron Paul’s Monetary Policy Anthology: Materials From the Chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, US House of Representatives, 112th Congress.
The scholarly contributions of Murray N. Rothbard span numerous disciplines, and may be found in dozens of books and thousands of articles. But even if we confine ourselves to the topic of money, the subject of this volume, we still find his contributions copious and significant.
As an American monetary historian Rothbard traced the party politics, the pressure groups, and the academic apologists behind the various national banking schemes throughout American history. As a popularizer of monetary theory and history he showed the public what government was really up to as it took greater and greater control over money. As a business cycle expert he wrote scholarly books on the Panic of 1819 and the Great Depression, finding the roots of both in artificial credit expansion. And while the locus classicus of monetary theory in the tradition of the Austrian School is Ludwig von Mises’ 1912 work The Theory of Money and Credit, the most thorough shorter overview of Austrian monetary theory is surely chapter 10 of Rothbard’s treatise Man, Economy and State.

Cyprus and the Unraveling of Fractional-Reserve Banking


[Originally posted on Circle Bastiat, the faculty blog of the Mises Institute. Read Circle Bastiat for Austrian analysis of current economic events from today’s top Misesian and Rothbardian economists.]
The “Cyprus deal” as it has been widely referred to in the media may mark the next to last act in the the slow motion collapse of fractional-reserve banking that began with the implosion of the savings-and-loan industry in the U.S. in the late 1980s.
This trend continued with the currency crises in Russia, Mexico, East Asia, and Argentina in the 1990s in which fractional-reserve banking played a decisive role. The unraveling of fractional-reserve banking became visible even to the average depositor during the financial meltdown of 2008 that ignited bank runs on some of the largest and most venerable financial institutions in the world. The final collapse was only averted by the multi-trillion dollar bailout of U.S. and foreign banks by the Federal Reserve.

Tenured Austrian Economists vs. Murray Rothbard

by Gary North


The Austrian School of economics in the twentieth century was dominated by Ludwig von Mises. He died in 1973. His followers have divided into two main camps: the Rothbardians and the Lachmannites. They have adopted rival philosophies and rival strategies.
The main strategy of the Lachmannites is to get tenure at a university. The main strategy of the Rothbardians is to persuade the general public of the truth of economic liberty.
A college teacher who is granted tenure need not publish anything ever again. He will be paid for merely showing up to class. The number of classes that he teaches declines. He is immune from dismissal. This is the bureaucrat's dream come true.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Stateless Equilibrium


The stateless market society—a peaceful social arrangement based on voluntary relations among individuals in which the state is not present—is not a popular idea. Many people believe that this society would lack the capacity to define and enforce property rights, and that this would result in chaos, tyranny of the rich or in a reversal to a state. This belief has led to a widespread dismissal of the stateless society paradigm.
Murray Rothbard is by many considered the champion of the stateless society doctrine. However, even Rothbard conceded that “there can be no absolute guarantee that a purely market society would not fall prey to organized criminality.” 
While it is true that absolute guarantees for any social outcome are generally inappropriate, I argue that there are good reasons to believe that outcomes like chaos, tyranny of the rich, or even “organized criminality” in the absence of a state are unlikely.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Errors of Keynes's Critics


I was intrigued by the review that Philipp Bagus wrote of The Errors of Keynes (Los Errores de la Vieja Economía), a book written in Spanish by Juan Ramón Rallo, part of which deals with Say’s Law.
An important understanding is taking hold, that the road to unwind Keynesian economics travels through Say’s Law. Keynes himself could not have been clearer about the significance of Say’s Law to the entire structure of his argument. Keynes emphasized, over and over again, in The General Theory (TGT) that he was reversing the conclusions of those who believed Say’s Law to be true. Thus, there are two things that need to be done if you are going to refute Keynes. First, you have to know what Say’s Law is. Then you have to show it is valid.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism

[This essay was originally published as "Die Legende von Versagen des Kapitalismus" in Der Internationale Kapitalismus und die Krise, Festschrift für Julius Wolf (1932)]

The nearly universal opinion expressed these days is that the economic crisis of recent years marks the end of capitalism. Capitalism allegedly has failed, has proven itself incapable of solving economic problems, and so mankind has no alternative, if it is to survive, then to make the transition to a planned economy, to socialism.
This is hardly a new idea. The socialists have always maintained that economic crises are the inevitable result of the capitalistic method of production and that there is no other means of eliminating economic crises than the transition to socialism. If these assertions are expressed more forcefully these days and evoke greater public response, it is not because the present crisis is greater or longer than its predecessors, but rather primarily because today public opinion is much more strongly influenced by socialist views than it was in previous decades.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"fraud. why the great recession" (official documentary)

Free markets are not to be blamed for the Great Recession. On the contrary, its origins rest upon the deep government and central bank intervention in the economy. Through fraudulent mechanisms, this causes recurrent boom and bust cycles: bad policies create phases of irrational exuberance, which are then followed by economic recessions, a result that every citizen ends up suffering from.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Anatomy of the End Game


About a month ago, in the third-quarter report of a Canadian global macro fund, its strategist made the interesting observation that “…Four ideas in particular have caught the fancy of economic policy makers and have been successfully sold to the public…” One of these ideas “…that has taken root, at least among the political and intellectual classes, is that one need not fear fiscal deficits and debt provided one has monetary sovereignty…”. This idea is currently growing, particularly after Obama’s re-election. But it was only after writing our last letter, on the revival of the Chicago Plan (as proposed in an IMF’ working paper), that we realized that the idea is morphing into another one among Keynesians: That because there cannot be a gold-to-US dollar arbitrage like in 1933, governments do indeed have the monetary sovereignty.
Is this true? Today’s letter will seek to show why it is not, and in the process, it will also describe the endgame for the current crisis. Without further ado…
After the fall of the KreditAnstalt in 1931, with the world living under the gold-exchange standard, depositors first in central Europe, and later in France and England, began to withdraw their deposits and buy gold, challenging the reserves of their respective central banks. The leverage that linked the balance sheet of each central bank had been provided by currency swaps, a novelty at the time, which had openly been denounced by Jacques Rueff. One by one, central banks were forced to leave the gold standard (i.e. devalue) until in 1933, it was the Fed’s turn. The story is well known and the reason this process was called an “arbitrage” is simply that there can never be one asset with two prices. In this case, gold had an “official”, government guaranteed price and a market price, in terms of fiat money (i.e. schillings, pounds, francs, US dollars). The consolidated balance sheets of the central bank, financial institutions and non-financial sector looked like this before the run:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where to from here?

By Gerardo Coco

We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Without understanding their dynamic relationship and their implications is difficult to predict how things might unfold. The economic future depends on the interplay of both these forces. From the point of view of their final effects, inflation and deflation are, respectively, the devaluation and revaluation of the currency unit. The quantity theory of money developed in 1912 by the American economist Irving Fisher asserts that an increase in the money supply, all other things been equal, results in a proportional increase in the price level [1]. If the circulation of money signifies the aggregate amount of its transfers against goods, its increase must result in a price increase of all the goods. The theory must be viewed through the lens of the law of supply and demand: if money is abundant and goods are scarce, their prices increase and currency depreciates. Inflation rises when the monetary aggregate expands faster than goods. Conversely, if money is scarce, prices fall and the opposite, deflation, occurs. In this case the monetary aggregate shrinks faster than goods and as prices decrease money appreciates.