Gold and Philosophy

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Courtesy of David van der Linden @ New Austrian.org:

A recent article one came across presented an interesting analogy. It was stated that “unconscious thought is like fluid gold, streaming down the side of a mountain towards a deep chasm”[1]. Placing moulds along the mountain saves the gold from flowing into the chasm, just as increasing one’s vocabulary allows one to capture thought and express ideas. The conclusion of the analogist was that the study of philosophy is of value, since one learns to explicate unconscious thoughts, just as capturing gold on the side of the mountain allows one to capture value.

The analogy as it stands is of limited use. Rather than to view gold merely as an object of value, one might learn more by heeding the unparalleled marketability of coined gold. To state that simply capturing gold is a useful endeavour seems to be an objectification. Gold is not valuable in and of itself, rather it is valued by individuals. Capturing gold in moulds does not directly imply one is capturing value, unless one first assumes gold is a valuable substance in and of itself. The minting of gold into coin on the other hand, is useful since one increases the marketability of the substance. To return to the analogy, one can say that broadening one’s vocabulary -the goal of which is to be able to explicate thought- may increase the marketability (or exchangeability) of one’s ideas. Thoughts and ideas are not valuable of themselves, yet it is useful to increase the exchangeability of the same so as to be able to debate, discuss and develop them. Continue reading

The Paradox of Interest Revisited

Courtesy of Antal E. Fekete @ ProfessorFekete.com

The classical formulation of the paradox of interest is due to Böhm-Bawerk and Schumpeter. Its modern formulation is due to Hausman and Kirzner. I quote Kirzner:

Much – perhaps all – will turn out to depend on the way in which the interest problem is formulated. For present purposes we adopt a modern formulation of the problem, but wish to emphasize that this formulation is very similar in spirit and character to classic formulations… The modern formulation we cite is that of Hausman. Hausman points out that an “individual’s capital . . . enables that individual to earn interest. If the capital is invested in a machine, the sum of the rentals the machine earns over its lifetime is greater than the machine’s cost. Why?” Common observation, that is, tells us that possession of a given stock or capital funds can, by judicious investment (say, in a machine) yield a continuous flow of income (annual rentals net of depreciation) without impairing the ability of the capital funds to serve indefinitely as a source of income. The problem is, how this can occur. Why is not the price of the machine (paid by the capitalist at the time he invests in the machine) bid up (by the competition of others eagerly seeking to capture the net surplus of rentals over cost) – to the point where no such surplus remains? We are seeking, then, an explanation for an observed phenomenon which is, in the absence of a theory of interest, unable to be accounted for. Absent a theory of interest, no interest income ought to be forthcoming, except as a transient phenomenon; competition ought to squeeze it out of existence.

In this note I propose to solve the paradox by suggesting that the exchange of wealth and income should be made the cornerstone of the theory of interest, replacing the exchange of a present and a future good.

To say that the capitalist “invests” his wealth is too simplistic. Investing is bound to confuse the issue. Moreover, possession of wealth does not automatically guarantee access to income. There is an implicit exchange of wealth and income interposed between the capitalist and entrepreneur that needs to be made explicit. Here is what happens.

The capitalist exchanges wealth for income. Income is yielded by the entrepreneur, who converts wealth into capital goods (such as a machine or a fruit tree) and hires a manager to tend them (including the task of setting depreciation quotas in anticipation of having to replace the capital goods at the end of their useful life without further charges to the capitalist). The entrepreneur sets up three accounts for the distribution of the yield after depreciation, namely, one for each of:

(1) a fixed interest income payable to the capitalist,
(2) wages payable to the manager,
(3) the remainder, or entrepreneurial profit, payable to himself. Continue reading

The Counter-Productive Monetary Policy of the Fed

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Sowing Inflation, Reaping Deflation

Courtesy of Antal E Fekete @ New Austrian.org

New Austrian School of Economics

Introduction

Typically, bond speculators carry on interest arbitrage along the entire yield curve. They sell the short maturity and buy the long, hoping to capture the difference between the higher long rate and the lower short rate of interest (borrowing short and lending long). This arbitrage is not risk-free per se as it has the effect of flattening the yield curve. As a result the normal yield curve could get inverted unexpectedly, that is, turned upside down, making the rising curve into a falling one while turning the speculators’ profit into a loss.

However, as a direct result of the policy of open market operations (introduced clandestinely and illegally in 1922 through the conspiracy of the US Treasury and the Fed, long before the practice was legalized ex post facto in 1935) interest arbitrage was made risk-free. Astute bond speculators could thereafter pre-empt Fed action profitably. It never fails. Speculators know that sooner or later the Fed will have go to the bill market to buy in order to boost the money supply. They will buy beforehand. On rare occasions the Fed would be a seller. Then speculators, perhaps acting on inside information, will sell beforehand. This copycat action is an inexhaustible source of risk-free profits. Thanks to the Fed’s open market purchases speculators are assured that they will always be able to dump the bonds at a profit which they have bought pre-emptively. The more aggressively the Fed persists in its effort to increase the monetary base, the greater the bond speculators’ profits will be.

Absolute bad faith Continue reading

ECON 101 – LECTURE 3

GOLD STANDARD UNIVERSITY

Summer Semester, 2002

Monetary Economics 101: The Real Bills Doctrine of Adam Smith

Lecture 3

CREDIT UNIONS

– The Invisible Vacuum Cleaner –
– The Quantity Theory of Money –
– Destruction of the Gold Standard –
– And Discrediting the Real Bills Doctrine –
– Are Two Sides of the Same Coin –
– The Working Man As the Guardian of Sound Money –

Lending versus Clearing

July 15, 2002

I dedicate this lecture to the memory of Ely Moore, the first union official ever to have been elected to the Congress in 1834. He was a solid gold-standard man who believed, with Daniel Webster, that

“Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money.”

Daniel Webster

In the first two Lectures I dealt with a new blueprint for a gold coin standard for America and the world, designed to avoid two great pitfalls: (1) the pitfall of breakdown of social peace between creditors and debtors, (2) the pitfall of entrusting gold coins that represent the savings of the people to the banks. In this Lecture I shall recommend that the guardianship to preserve the system of sound money should, instead, be entrusted to the laboring classes and their representatives, the Credit Unions, which would be the only financial institutions chartered to carry deposit accounts denominated in Gold Eagle coins, and which would act as clearing houses for the circulation of real bills.

Recall that real bills provide credits to move urgently demanded consumer goods from the producers to the retail outlets. We don’t need banks for that. In any event, short term commercial credits arise not through lending but through clearing. As the supply of consumer goods emerge in production, purchasing media to finance its movement to the consumer emerge simultaneously through the process of clearing. No lending is involved. Coin, credit, circulation, clearing – the four C’s – are central ideas that economics has ignored. We are going to revive them here in preparation to pave the way to a new gold coin standard. Continue reading

ARTIFICIALLY LOWERED INTEREST RATES CAUSE STAGNATING WAGES AND UNEMPLOYMENT

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Courtesy of Hugo Salinas Price @ New Austrian.org:

Professor Antal E. Fekete has made a remarkable discovery in the field of Economics: artificially lowered interest rates – the fundamental instrument of economic intervention in all the developed countries, practiced in the US by the Federal Reserve – are detrimental to Labor, whether Manual Labor or Management Labor, i.e., detrimental to both the working class and the middle class.

So far as I know, Professor Fekete is the first thinker to point out this particular consequence of an artificially and rapidly lowered interest rate.

The “Developed World” goes along with the Keynesian proposition of lowering interest rates drastically, to juice economies that are re-adjusting to previous juicing through credit expansion not based on previous accumulated savings. Accordingly, the slowest rates of increasing employment (if indeed there is any increase at all, since the statistics are universally doctored to look good and justify Central Bank intervention) are presented by the countries of the Developed World, which are suffering incredibly low rates of interest.

On the other hand, the “Emerging Markets” which have not applied QE and suppression of the interest rate so vigorously, are showing higher rates of employment than the “Developed World”.

In a video on the Internet recently, viewers got a look at social conditions in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The number of humans is appalling. At the end of the period of fasting of Ramadan, incredible swarms of humans cram into the trains and climb up in hordes upon the roofs of the railroad cars.

The activity of boats on the massive river that goes through Dhaka is amazing; hundreds of boats are seen scampering over the river in constant activity.

There is no question of unemployment in Bangladesh, in spite of the fact that Dhaka is one of the most populated cities on the planet. Why? Because in Bangladesh, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. The economy of Bangladesh, left to itself, provides the maximum output possible for the massive population. Any intervention – and I do suppose they have some government intervention in their economy – must be minimal, because anything more than that would mean death for hundreds of thousands living at the very margin of sustainable life.

There is only one sort of economics in this world, because there is only one sort of human nature. Economics is simply one branch of the study of human nature: the study of the human being as an entity that acts, which is the same as saying that the human being chooses. Other species of living beings may exhibit a limited capacity for choosing, but the human being is entirely dependent on choosing – and making the right choices – for the sustenance of his life. The animal kingdom relies on instinct; the human being relies on his choices, which are not instinctive. Continue reading