How Central Banks Create Inflation (Intellectual Capitalism Part 4)

Posted by dbhalling 3 years, 9 months ago to Economics
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In this post I examine central banking and tackle the nonsense of Modern Monetary Theory, which confuses money with wealth.

Some of you think that I only attack the nonsense of Austrian Economics.
SOURCE URL: https://hallingblog.com/2017/01/16/how-central-banks-create-inflation-intellectual-capitalism-part-4/


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  • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 3 years, 9 months ago
    Hello dbhalling,
    Very good. Any government that believes it can use its central bank to print unlimited money and avoid insolvency should review the history as you have noted, of the Weimar Republic, or present day Venezuela. Venezuela is now printing a 20000 bolivar note. http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/05/news/...

    It is quite confusing. I have never understood why there is not a simple rule that governs the increase of the money supply. Why shouldn't it be tied to GDP or wealth creation? Is it too difficult to measure the increased wealth of a nation in a timely fashion? It seems that money can be created by many means and sources, but the rules that govern printing of exchange notes are nonsensical. The government cannot create wealth, but it has the power to destroy it. Why then do we allow it to have so many tools to manipulate the money supply and market, that ultimately grant it further power to destroy wealth?

    The opacity of our system seems to be intentional... a way for politicians and bankers to profit at the expense of the future and the value of the currency held by the citizens. If a small segment profits sufficiently enough that it outweighs the devaluing of the currency, it is only the little guy that is hurt, until the crash... Very short sighted, perhaps, but if those in the know profit and then convert their profit into other assets before a crash, aren't they able to shield themselves from the more serious pain of collapse?

    Andrew Jackson where are you?
    I find it a bit ironic that the Jackson is on our $20 bill.
    http://thefederalist.com/2016/04/18/a...
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-hi...

    Respectfully,
    O.A.
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  • Posted by $ richrobinson 3 years, 9 months ago
    Excellent article Dale but a lot of this is difficult for me to wrap my head around. I often wonder how I can convince the average person about the dangers of a Central Bank given that the official government statistics are pure fiction in my opinion. The reported inflation rate is less than 2% today but if it's calculated as it was pre 1980 it is closer to 10%. It's confusing to begin with but when you add in manipulated data it's mind numbing.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      As I point out in the article, I think central banks are purposely set up to be confusing. I am convinced that central bankers do not completely understand what they are doing.
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      • Posted by dwlievert 3 years, 9 months ago
        DB: I wonder if you have read "The Bubble that Broke the World" by Garet Garett?

        I think you would enjoy the prose and his insights! It is but a bit longer than Bastiat's, "The Law." It is every bit as powerful and was originally published in 1932. It recounts our financial history from WWI through 1932.

        To perhaps whet your appetite, here, in his words, is the opening "lead-in.".

        "Since John Law and his Mississippi Bubble, individuals have been continually appearing with the same scheme in new disguise. The principle is very simple. You have only to find a way to multiply your creditors by the cube and pay them by the square, out of their own money. Then, for a while, you are Nabob...........

        The fatal weakness of the scheme is that you cannot stop. When new creditors fail to present themselves faster the old creditors demand to be paid off, the bubble bursts. Then you go to jail like Ponzi, or commit suicide, like Kreuger.

        There is nothing new in the scheme. What is new is that for the first time, the whole world tried it. The whole world cannot put itself in jail, nor can it escape the consequences by suicide."

        It contains gems much like Bastiat's "broken window fallacy" - one of which is a depositor at the bank depositing 1 to 3, "chords of wood."

        If you can spare the time I think you would enjoy it immensely.

        Dave
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        • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
          Sounds like an interesting book. I think most importantly they confuse money with wealth.
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          • Posted by dwlievert 3 years, 9 months ago
            Yes, it is often confused, In the current state of "economics," we are led by the confused.

            Among such confusions, it is asserted possible to consume ourselves into prosperity; the solution for debt is credit; etc.

            The confusion begins however, as you have articulated, with money and wealth. It is then augmented by failing to grasp the gold standard is but a convention. The true meaning of a gold standard is not gold, but in the fact that it represents and "assures" the convention. The faith in that convention must not necessarily be kept in gold but in credit. Gold is simply the rational "figure" in which that convention is embodied, and it will best assure that faith in the convention will be kept.

            Should you read Garrett's book he offers many insights.
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  • Posted by $ Stormi 3 years, 9 months ago
    Wonderful article. It will get a second reading. I also just ordered your book and Thomas Sowell's latest. I have been interested in this topic since Obama took office, first reading a very old essay given to me by a senior friend, about the history of banking,. Then I became interested in the meetings in Basel, Switzerland and that influence. I became interest in the Federal Reserve during Clinton, well actually when I read "The Creature from Jekyll Island". I was stunned when I found the way the banks were the cause of our higher gas prices via their initial loaning and screwing over the Saudis. Your article has added to my understanding It is a oipic many more people should begin to learn more about.
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  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 9 months ago
    Interesting stuff. I will say that I am relatively ignorant of this overall issue.

    I did note that in the summary you noted that eliminating legal tender laws was one of the quickest ways to eliminate the Federal Reserve. I understand the manipulation caused by the Fed, but if that is controlled, I don't understand the problem with a central bank just issuing currency. Of course the gold standard is long gone. However, in any liquid exchange some units must be used. What units are sensible?
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      Eliminating legal tender laws allows us to avoid the Fed and makes it relatively impotent.
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      • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 9 months ago
        I get that is one way, but taking away other means of manipulation (e.g.tying value to an objective index) would resolve that as well, no?
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        • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
          Yes, but a gold standard (legally tied to a certain value) has never lasted and caused other problems.
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          • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 9 months ago
            But why must it be gold? There could be various metrics calculated that are objective.

            For example GDP is measured. I can imagine wealth per country (or agency to be inclusive of private tender) is evaluated. With the volume of each currency and wealth per agency evaluated, the absolute and relative value of each currency can be established. Once this is set (which will be tough), the GDP and loans each year can be used to adjust the value objectively. No more manipulation.

            My example may be sophomoric, but i think this is one method to set a standard that isn't a volatile precious metal. Please excuse my attempt to develop such a solution. I apologize for being an engineer.
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            • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
              No it does not have to be gold. Like the rest of the economy I don't think the government should tell us what we have to accept for payment. Your system seems reasonable, but it needs the government to work and I don't think there is any justification for their being involved.
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              • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 9 months ago
                Is there a rule tha puts the government in charge? I thought other means of tender were just fine. Why not just start using them? Because the government still manipulates the value of the dollar and other government currencies?
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                • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
                  Perhaps I missed your point. Can you explain further?
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                  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 9 months ago
                    I am proceeding on the assumption that the issues with a government program (the Federal Reserve) are 1) the inefficiency of government, and 2) the manipulation of the value of currency. I believe a process like the one I proposed eliminates issue #2, leaving the basic issue of the cost, which I think is minor.

                    Of course your question "Why should the be a government function?" is completely valid. I am not attempting to argue this should be a government function. I am arguing that it does not have to be a failure if this is a government function. My objective is to understand the range of options that would address the issue, if this subject is even discussed publicly. I prefer to have acceptable options in mind before engaging in an argument. The perfect solution is great, but sometimes unachievable in politics. I'm looking at this from the perspective of what could be supported in politics, not abstraction.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 9 months ago
    Although I love money, I am not an expert on it. But at this point, I do not understand why the gov-
    ernment should be allowed to print money in the first place. Would it not be better simply to allow
    mine owners, or the goldsmiths in the writer's article, to be the ones to print their own money,
    stating how much weight of gold, silver, etc.,
    each note stood for, and be ready to give the
    bearer the weight in gold, silver, etc. stated on
    the note upon presentation? (And refusal to
    come across could be subject to prosecution
    for fraud?) (Of course, in the case of a "run",
    that could present a problem, but I think it could
    be avoided by keeping a careful record of how
    much gold, silver, etc, was kept in the vault, and
    how much was printed, and being careful never
    to print too much). The company name and
    logo and symbols could be printed on each com-
    pany's notes. I guess maybe (in the case of a
    proper laissez-faire political system), the gov-
    ernment might have to issue some sort of scrip
    to soldiers, etc., redeemable in whatever local
    currency was available.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      In general that makes sense. However, as I explain in the article called money (Savvy Street) there is no reason that paper money should not be backed by other valuable assets, such as land or machinery. In fact, stocks and bonds, which are essentially the same thing, have functioned as money very well.
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  • Posted by term2 3 years, 9 months ago
    The statists have made this so complex that its quite difficult to understand exactly WHAT they are doing. They obviously printed their way out of our last recession, and without inflation that we have seen. It doesnt make sense that the chickens dont come home to roost, so I am wondering what will happen in the future. Can they just keep on doing things to make sure we have no consequences?
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      Yes I think they like the obscurity because it hides a variety of sins and I don't think they know what is going on or what its effects are going to be for sure.
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  • Posted by Lucky 3 years, 9 months ago
    *Central banks and legal tender laws are the source of inflation, not private fractional reserve banks."

    Does this mean that inflation cannot occur and has never happened without central banks and legal tender laws? I doubt that.
    Examples of Zimbabwe and Venezuela support the proposition but there is much more wrong there than existence of central banking.
    Now if you say- One of the causes, or the major cause. Yes.
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    • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 9 months ago
      The answer is to look at the real cause of inflation, which almost always stems from fiat currency. It is very difficult to create something out of nothing. When a currency is simply an alternative note for an existing store of value, there is an inherent limit on the number of notes because of the corresponding scarcity of their backing. Thus it becomes nearly impossible for inflation to creep into the system, let alone be intentionally spurred on. If you look at the governments which experienced runaway currency inflation, you will find fiat currency and governmental currency manipulation behind it all.

      Look at the current state of the United States Federal Government debt. The Federal Reserve and the Government have colluded to maintain an annual target inflation of between 1-2%. Why? Because it amounts to value transfer from savers to spenders. And contrary to what many like to believe, banks are spenders - not savers. Fractional banking is completely built on spending. The government, of course, goes along with it because it makes it easier for them to spend the money they would otherwise have to tax their citizens to get. They can spend more than they have because every year the value of the spent money decreases in comparison to this year's money. And even 1% of a trillion is a lot of money.
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      • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
        Actually it is not always fiat currency as a showed with respect to ancient Rome, however it always (one exception) requires legal tender laws.

        Actually inflation is a transfer from producers to the government, not just savers.
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        • Posted by jsw225 3 years, 9 months ago
          Don't forget about money transfer to other countries. From 2003 to 2015, the amount of dollars printed up has increased 433%. Note that in that same era, they only claim there was 32% inflation. However, taking into account bank accounts, loans, and the like (i.e. fractional reserve banking), there's only 76% more money.

          So where has all of this money gone? Simply put, it's gone into the yearly $500,000,000,000 trade deficit since then.
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          • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
            I don't have a lot of confidence with the money supply numbers and even less confidence in the inflation numbers today. It is easy for a central bank to obscure what is happening. Are the increases in the money supply direct creation of money or are they honest loans. The effects of the two are not the same.
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            • Posted by jsw225 3 years, 9 months ago
              It's not too complicated. Over 12 years, the amount of printed dollars went up by 400+%. That is something they can't hide. If they want to hide about the other money supply numbers, then it may be possible. I don't think it's too likely, but possible.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      Without legal tender laws there has almost never been inflation that I am aware of. One counter example is that Spain imported so much gold and silver when they first found the new world.
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  • Posted by ISank 3 years, 9 months ago
    Well the Austrians do have a solid understanding of Central banking. Yours is ok, I had to fly thru more than a couple simple paragraphs.
    if it takes this to reach objectivist sure but De Soto and Murphy do just fine.


    Take " *When central banks change the interest rates it causes a one-time increase in inflation (deflation). Low interest rates do not."
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      No actually Austrains do not have solid understanding of central banks. The confuse central banks with fractional reserve banking. They also ignore the importance of legal tender laws. Finally Austrian Business Cycle Theory give the Fed too much credit, not to mention it is just wrong.

      We cannot fight the non-sense of socialism (Keynesian-ism) with nonsense.
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      • Posted by ISank 3 years, 9 months ago
        "No actually Austrains do not have solid understanding of central banks." Let's just agree to disagree onthis one.

        " The confuse central banks with fractional reserve banking."
        Who you reading? Mises was clear on the misuse of power CB's give governments and its impact on the people. Re: FRB there are clear distinctions of the troubles caused by this ranging from a violation of individual property rights to being the cause of malinvestments

        "They also ignore the importance of legal tender laws."
        Damn libertarians always looking for individuals to rule themselves and not so called "legal tender laws" you got no vision Dood!

        "Finally Austrian Business Cycle Theory give the Fed too much credit, not to mention it is just wrong"
        Hope your right, but your not. I'd love to see what we could do without the Fed. I was having drinks at the San Fran Fed, chatting it up with one of their phd's when she said, " we don't know the territory we are in." It was during qe2 and they were designers without any exit knowledge.
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        • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
          You either are ignorant of Austrian theory or you are just obtuse

          "Fractional Reserve Banking

          Let's see how the fractional-reserve process works, in the absence of a central bank. I set up a Rothbard Bank, and invest $1,000 of cash (whether gold or government paper does not matter here). Then I "lend out" $10,000 to someone, either for consumer spending or to invest in his business. How can I "lend out" far more than I have? Ahh, that's the magic of the "fraction" in the fractional reserve. I simply open up a checking account of $10,000 which I am happy to lend to Mr. Jones. Why does Jones borrow from me? Well, for one thing, I can charge a lower rate of interest than savers would. I don't have to save up the money myself, but can simply counterfeit it out of thin air. (In the 19th century, I would have been able to issue bank notes, but the Federal Reserve now monopolizes note issues.) Since demand deposits at the Rothbard Bank function as equivalent to cash, the nation's money supply has just, by magic, increased by $10,000. The inflationary, counterfeiting process is under way."
          https://mises.org/library/taking-mone...
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          • Posted by ISank 3 years, 9 months ago
            Ignorant or obtuse, I've been called both but titles do not fit. Allow me to say, I hope your not being dishonest with your last cut/paste. Follow the link, thank you, and you get the main point my main man Murray was discussing.
            To a libertarian, there should not be a combination of the loan market and the deposit market. There should also not be government money.
            Why are we not out there fighting the statist? Did a libertarian steal your high school girl friend?
            Sure there are details with other Libs that we bitch at each other till the sun goes down but at the end of the day we are not that far off. It's why I enjoy Rand so much.
            But your borish and consistent attack on that which you are a novice, does chaff some of us in humorous but unpleasant manner.
            All the best Amigo!
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            • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
              I first fight irrationalism, then for rational selfishness and finally for politic issues. The Austrians are pushing irrationalism, they attack property rights, among other problems. They are just the flip side of the statists.
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  • Posted by chad 3 years, 9 months ago
    What gives anything value is the action upon it by design and effort to create something which is more useful. The 'creation' of money is always a failure if allowed to be done at the discretion of the would be planner. The difference between the creation of fiat currency and real money is one uses illusion while the other requires the application of value. Precious metals have become the best tested by the market for store of value and trade because of their nature not because they were declared to be so. My communist daughter thinks that silver and gold were 'designated' as having value by some rich person who wants to control the world while the creation of fiat currency prevents anyone from declaring value, which is exactly what fiat currency does.
    Precious metals require effort to find them, mine them and refine them. Because they are rare (sand is not) they have an intrinsic value on their own. Silver can deteriorate to a degree, gold doesn't change. A smith acting upon them may give them an esoteric value beyond the original value but this value can be destroyed by action or sometimes increased in value because of time and the loss of the artisan who invented or created it. Gold can be melted into larger quantities, divided, moved about easily in quantities that are valuable and enough to conduct the transaction and each quantity is always the same in its nature. You cannot do that with diamonds, once cut in half they never regain their value and each half is worth less than the original. If you use salt (as the Romans did) at some point someone will use it, the value declines rapidly once ingested. Commodities; i.e. wheat, oil, etc. are eventually used and their value is forever changed. Precious metals are recognized by every civilization and culture and accepted. Acceptance is another requirement for an efficient currency. There may be another substance that performs better, if there is the market will discover it and use it.
    As far as allowing a government or central bank to create it there is no one who can be trusted and the very art of creation causes devaluation, the central planners like to use the work inflation because it misplaces the cause as being outside of their control when they are causing the devaluation. There is nothing esoteric that can be used to represent value that will not be destroyed by those who can create it when they can profit from its destruction.
    It is interesting that in 'economic theory' that is designed by those who create this counterfeit money blame for economic problems always falls on others and the solution is for them to have more control which allows for more destruction. GDP, wealth creation, or other attempts at giving value merely help complete the illusion that the fiat currency has value and can be trusted. All though those who create it tell us that it prevents depressions, wild economic cycles and provides for the 'expanding' economy in a way that precious metals cannot, those same people demand gold for the people for using their currency. The Federal Reserve holds gold and demands that the government pay it for use of their fiat currency. A paper currency needs to have value that is defined just as a gallon needs to always be exactly the same volume so that when I purchase anything measured by this standard I know what I am getting. Money also requires a standard in order for it to be stable. Although rocks, feathers, salt, shiny sea shells have all been used none have the qualities of precious metals that make them valuable as assets. You could use steel but it would require enormous portions for every purchase.
    If you want to be free don't allow anyone to 'create' money. Ensure that it is a valuable commodity that is easily recognized.
    Another method for explaining this that I have found useful; if I gave you the title (paper representing a product) for my Jeep in exchange for something you had and you traded that paper to someone else, and so on eventually someone who wanted a Jeep would come with the title (claim upon the value) and want the Jeep. If there was no Jeep then no one ever had any value in their possession and each trade was accomplished with the belief that something of value existed for the value they were giving. Someone was bound to be hurt by the transaction. Money facilitates trade. Fiat currency is the hope that you will not be the one who finally demands something more than the illusion to discover you have nothing. If I create two titles the value is further destroyed and those holding the titles at some point discover there was never anything there for them to work with.
    When fiat currency is borrowed into existence there is never enough to pay the debt, it will always increase (which it has under every president) until it collapses. When you borrow a dollar into existence you owe it and the interest, there is nothing to pay the interest with so you borrow another dollar to pay the interest.
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