Why Does Fiat Seemingly Work?

Fiat is a perversion of value, it may act as a medium of exchange but it is conceived in deceit, backed by violence and reliant on the apathy, ignorance and insouciance of the slave population. There are no surviving long term fiat currencies that hold or behave as a store of value, they all have a 100% mortality rate in the long term but gold and silver on the other hand…as Mark Twain said: ‘It is easier to fool someone than convince them that they have been fooled’.

To clarify Gresham’s Law below that ‘bad money’ drives ‘good money’ out. By looking to the work of Carl Menger on hoarding and marketability, one can achieve a greater understanding of the errors in Gresham’s Law and by definition, bad and good are dualisms and bad money is not money! Courtesy of Peter Tenebrarum @ Acting Man:

Introducing Money

Imagine three men living on a small island. Toni is mining the local salt mine, and apart from him there are Pete the fisherman and Tom the apple grower and their families. They have a barter trading system set up: Toni exchanges his salt for Pete’s fishes and Tom’s apples, who in turn exchange fishes and apples between each other.

One day Pete says: “I have an idea. Instead of fish, I will from now on give you pieces of papyrus with numbers marked on them”. Papyrus grows in great quantities nearby, but has so far not been of practical use to any of the islanders. Pete continues: “One papyrus mark will represent 1 fish or 5 apples or 2 bags of salt (equivalent to current barter exchange rates). This will make it easier for us to trade among ourselves. We won’t have to lug fishes, apples and salt around all the time. Instead, we can simply present the pieces of papyrus to each other for exchange on demand.”

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John Law at a young age – the world’s first Keynesian economist

Painting by Casimir Balthazar

In short, Pete wants to modernize their little island economy by introducing money – and he already has one of those new papyrus notes with him, which he is eager to trade for salt. However, the others would immediately realize that there is a problem: the papyrus per se is not of any value, since none of them have found a use for it as yet. If they were all to agree on using the papyrus as a medium of exchange, its value would rest on a promise alone – Pete’s promise that any papyrus he issues will actually be “backed” by fish, which would make Toni and Tom willing to accept it in exchange for salt and apples. Continue reading