Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Paper Money

Federal Reserve Notes Soon to Become Irrelevant in Oklahoma

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 9, 2014:

 

Republic of Hawaii Banknote for 20 gold dollar...

Republic of Hawaii Banknote for 20 gold dollars, 1895. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something that the lamestream media missed entirely happened on Wednesday, June 4, in Oklahoma: the governor signed into law a bill affirming what is already guaranteed to each state in the US Constitution: that gold and silver coin are legal tender. Historians looking back may recall that day as the day the Federal Reserve’s hegemony over money ended.

Article I, Section 10, the U.S. Constitution states simply that

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Oklahoma is the next state to Affirm gold and silver as Legal Tender

1907 Double Eagle, Liberty Head, Obverse

1907 Double Eagle, Liberty Head, Obverse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday, June 4, Oklahoma joined Utah, Texas and Louisiana in affirming that gold and silver coins are (as they always have been under the Constitution) legal tender in the payment of debts in the state. On the surface this seems almost silly: affirming a right that already exists in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution. But it is much more than that.

 

Senate Bill 862 which Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law this week says:

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The China party is over, says the Wall Street Journal

And it’s about time, too!  The Journal is just a little late to notice what’s happening, and has been happening, over there for at least the last two years.

Let’s put things into perspective.

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A very smart guy reviews Stockman’s massive new book

Whenever someone as smart as David Stockman (President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget) writes a 768-page book (The Great Deformation), it makes me nervous, for two reasons: I don’t have the time to read 768 pages, but if I don’t I might miss something important. So I was gratified that

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Gold Standard Arguments Being Promoted Again

Two years ago Steve Forbes, two-time candidate for nomination for president by the Republican Party and Editor of Forbes magazine, predicted “a return to the gold standard by the United States within five years … [because it would] help the nation solve a variety of economic, fiscal and monetary ills.” It’s now two years into his prediction and articles explaining how such a return would work, and why, are beginning

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Conservative British Journalist William Rees-Mogg Dead at 84

With the passing of British writer The Right Honourable The Lord Rees-Mogg, a voice that for more than 60 years resonated in the freedom firmament was stilled.

Upon graduation from Oxford in 1951 (as president of Oxford Union), William Rees-Mogg began his journalism career at The Financial Times in 1952. He moved to the Sunday Times in 1960 where he

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Proposed Changes to US Currency Symptom of Much Larger Disease

US Currency in UV, visible and IR light

US Currency in UV, visible and IR light (Photo credit: xxv)

Within days of each other, two announcements concerning the future of the US currency appeared in the popular press, and each avoided any mention whatsoever of the primary driver of the changes.

First was the announcement on November 26th from Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner that the U.S. Mint will begin removing pennies and nickels from circulation starting the first of the year, allegedly that they’re too expensive to make. It costs the mint nearly 5 cents to make each penny while it costs more than 16 cents to make a nickel. This is costing the mint a lot of money, an estimated $187 million last year alone.

Two days later CNN reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called on the Congress to stop printing one-dollar bills and switch instead to one-dollar coins. The GAO claimed that such a move could actually make the government some money:

A $1 coin typically costs about 30 cents for the U.S. Mint to produce, but then the government can sell them to Americans for a dollar each. That financial gain is called seigniorage, and over a period of 30 years, it could [make] the U.S. government about $4.4 billion, the GAO said.

Avoiding the real issue, the GAO said that although the coins cost more to make, they would last longer, thus turning a profit to the government:

We continue to believe that replacing the note with a coin is likely to provide a financial benefit to the government if the note is eliminated and negative public reaction is effectively managed through stakeholder outreach and public education.

Unfortunately there is little likelihood that any of that “outreach” and “education” will include any attempt at explaining why the change is necessary.

The real issue is the declining purchasing power of the currency. And that goes back to the year 1913 when the Federal Reserve System was

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Keynesians are Crazy! Here’s Proof:

English: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For 20 years the Japanese economy has languished. Its stock market, once at 40,000, now is below 10,000. The solution? More of the same medicine that hasn’t worked! It’s insane. At least one intelligent soul has written about it, in The New York Times no less. He calls such policies “unusual”:

For years, proponents of aggressive monetary policy have offered this unusual piece of advice as a way to end Japan’s deflationary slump and invigorate the economy. Print lots of money, they said. Keep interest rates at zero. Convince the market that Japan will allow inflation for a while.

It hasn’t worked. For 20 years it hasn’t worked. So now, Japan’s former prime minister has a great idea:

In a speech in Tokyo on Thursday, Mr. [Shinzo] Abe said he would call for the Bank of Japan to set an inflation target of 2 to 3 percent, far above its current goal of about 1 percent, with an explicit commitment to “unlimited monetary easing” — an open-endedness that has caused jitters among some economists. The bank’s benchmark interest rate should be brought back to zero percent from 0.1 percent, Mr. Abe added.

Abe wants to do even more. He proposes that Japan’s central bank buy construction bonds to

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Skyscraper Announcement Confirms Impending Chinese Recession

Empire State Building all

Empire State Building all (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thank Gary North for alerting me to this. It’s far more than just historical coincidence. The announcement that China is going to build the world’s tallest building is a strong indicator that it is going into (if it hasn’t already gone into) recession. Tall buildings signal the top.

Mark Thornton, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, wrote about this in July, 2004:

This 4th of July will mark the groundbreaking of the Freedom Tower at ground zero of the World Trade Center. The design of the building calls for a height of 1,776 symbolic feet, which will capture the title of world’s tallest building when it is completed in late 2008 or 2009.

Groundbreakings, opening ceremonies, and certainly July 4th are all causes for celebration, but the Freedom Tower may be a signal that something much more sinister is afoot. For more than a century there has been a correlation between the building of the world’s tallest building and severe economic downturns.

That correlation is eerie, but here it is:

The correlation is as follows. The announcement and groundbreaking for the world’s tallest building takes place at the end of a long boom or sustained bubble in the economy. The stocks go into a
bear market; the economy goes into recession or worse. The building is completed. The economic turmoil that ensues is either severe, drawn out, or as in the case of the Great Depression, both.

There’s this:

The Panic of 1907 which helped bring about the Federal Reserve Act was signaled by the building of the 612 foot Singer Building completed in 1908 and the 700 foot Metropolitan Life completed in 1909. There was only a short, sharp downturn in 1913 when the 792 foot Woolworth building was completed, as the establishment of the Fed and WWI intervened.

And then this:

The Great Depression was signaled by a series of three record-breaking skyscrapers. The 927 foot Wall Street building was completed in 1929; the 1046 foot Chrysler Building was completed in 1930; and the 1250 foot Empire State Building was completed in 1931. The Great Depression helped bring on Roosevelt’s New Deal.

And this:

The 1970s were characterized by high rates of unemployment and inflation. This “stagflation” was signaled by the building of the 1368 foot high World Trade Towers which were completed in 1972 and 1973. The Sears Tower set a new record at 1450 feet when it was completed in 1974.

Then Thornton explains why the correlation is valid, in economic terms. Faulty price signals at the top of a boom cause bad decisions to be made, often very bad:

At first glance the association of record-setting skyscrapers and economic crisis would seem to be a spurious correlation. Surely, the building of such skyscrapers does not cause economic crisis. However, there is good reason to believe that skyscrapers and crisis are linked via the business cycle. Long periods of easy credit create economic booms, particularly in investment, speculation becomes pronounced, and entrepreneurs lose their compass of economic rationality and make big mistakes. The biggest mistakes — record-setting skyscrapers — comes toward the end of the long boom and signal the bust. (my emphasis)

The Chinese economy, like ours, has been running on paper money for years and giving out false and misleading signals to investors. They have made the mistake which I characterize as “straight line thinking in a curvilinear world.” Here’s a link to the announcement that not only are they going to build the world’s tallest building, they’re promising to do it in 90 days!

Stay tuned and watch for the coming recession in China.

Hyperinflation in Iran – is US Next?

Iranian rial

Iranian rial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again I am indebted to Gary North for an article to his members only for an insightful discussion of the hyperinflation going on in Iran. Indirectly, he paints the picture for what will inevitably happen here.

For the record, I pay him $9.95 a month for his daily insights, and I’m glad to do it. I think it’s the bargain of the year. He has thousands of subscribers, so it works well for him too. I recommend that you consider signing up as well. How he writes four insightful articles every day is beyond my comprehension.

Back to Iran: North quotes Steve Hanke at Cato (you can get his article for free!):

Since the U.S. and E.U. first enacted sanctions against Iran, in 2010, the value of the Iranian rial (IRR) has plummeted, imposing untold misery on the Iranian people. When a currency collapses, you can be certain that other economic metrics are moving in a negative direction, too. Indeed, using new data from Iran’s foreign-exchange black market, I estimate that Iran’s monthly inflation rate has reached 69.6%. With a monthly inflation rate this high (over 50%), Iran is undoubtedly experiencing hyperinflation.

The Iranian government is destroying the currency and hence the economy. And from there, the government itself. North thinks if the Israelis wait long enough, they won’t have to

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The Fed is Playing With Fire

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Paul RA)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s promise not only to expand the money supply by buying more mortgage-backed securities but to continue doing so until he sees “ongoing sustained improvement in the labor market” has sparked numerous warnings of unintended consequences as a result. The Federal Open Market Committee said on September 13:

If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability.

One of the people who is most nervous about the Fed’s plan to continue to print until the recovery begins in earnest is Martin Feldstein, former chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors. Writing in The Financial Times newspaper, Feldstein called Bernanke’s idea a “dangerous” strategy which could lead to

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Ron Paul, QE3, and Unintended Consequences

Ron Paul

Ron Paul (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

On Friday, Congressman Ron Paul, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, invited James Grant and Lewis Lehrman to explore the unintended consequences of the Federal Reserve’s latest plan to install Quantitative Easing Number Three (QE3). The Fed’s announcement on September 13 that it would embark on an “open-ended” program to purchase mortgage-backed securities raised concerns about the long-term impact such a program would have on consumers, savers, and investors.

Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, noted that “prices are the mechanism by which the economy operates” and when the Fed manipulates interest rates, it interferes with prices. In other words, the Fed, by its actions, is engaging in “financial price control” with predictable outcomes, distortions, and consequences:

  1. First, such activity subsidizes speculative activities, as investors seeking higher returns on their capital are forced into making higher risk investments, increasing the chances that they will lose some or all of their capital.
  2. Second, the Fed’s program raises the prices of commodities, as speculators and investors seek a “safe haven” in investments that can’t be inflated or expanded at the wish of a governing board.
  3. Third, this action by the Fed punishes savers and wage earners. Savers receive lower and lower rates of interest on their savings, disrupting plans for home buying and retirement. Wage earners have less incentive to save as the value of their savings becomes more questionable as the dollar loses value.
  4. Fourth, Grant pointed out that the Fed’s plan interferes with international trade, which depends on price predictability over time.

But most importantly, according to Grant, the Fed’s willingness to continue to purchase government securities allows Congress to put off the “day of reckoning” — dealing with the inevitable consequences of

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Federal Reserve Balance Sheet Set to Explode

End the Federal Reserve

End the Federal Reserve (Photo credit: r0b0r0b)

When the Federal Reserve announced last week its plan to buy more treasury securities, only a few read the fine print. Instead, the stock market jumped for joy at the news, leaping nearly 300 points on Friday.

What most market observers saw was the headline: “the [Federal Open Market] Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional … securities at a pace of $40 billion per month.” The press release added: “These actions … should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.”

Those observers envisioned sugar plums dancing in their heads as the Fed’s plan would lead, no doubt, to more economic growth, more jobs, more profits, and more stocks to sell on Wall Street.

Catherine Mann, professor of finance at Brandeis University, expressed her doubts that 

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The Fed’s Big Plan: Deceive and Print

Federal Reserve – Press Release, 9/13/2012

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month.

The Federal Reserve: The Biggest Scam In History

The Federal Reserve: The Biggest Scam In History (Photo credit: CityGypsy11)

So, another $40 billion of new money pouring into the economy, right? That’s how the Fed operates: it doesn’t borrow the money to buy those mortgage-backed securities that banks are holding (and would love to get rid of and dump onto the Fed). It’s going to “create” that new money and use it to buy them.

That’s the classical definition of inflation. It’s also a classic indicator of panic on the part of the Fed. I mean, what else could they do? The only tools they have are deception and printing.

Here’s the deception part, from the Fed’s official press release (I’ve italicized the relevant parts):

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August suggests that economic activity has continued to expand at a moderate pace in recent monthsGrowth in employment has been slow, and the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending has continued to advance, but growth in business fixed investment appears to have slowed. The housing sector has shown some further signs of improvement, albeit from a depressed levelInflation has been subdued, although the prices of some key commodities have increased recently. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Let’s look at these highlighted parts of the Fed announcement:

Economic recovery has continued to expand at a moderate pace in recent months.

What recovery? ECRI called for a recession a year ago, iterated its position back in June, and just reiterated it again last week. John Huntsman and Mish Shedlock both concur: we’re already in a recession.

Growth in employment has been slow.

Slow? How about non-existent? It’s growing so slowly that more people are leaving the workforce than are being hired. How about that for “slow?”

The unemployment rate remains elevated.

It’s actually much worse than officially reported (more reliable estimates put the rate at 15 percent, some even higher). The unemployment rate went down because of those people ending their job search efforts!

Growth in business fixed investment appears to have slowed.

Well, what would you expect? Would you invest in this economy now? Why? The Fed is awfully slow in coming to this obvious conclusion.

The housing sector has shown some further signs of improvement, albeit from a depressed level.

Housing starts are running about 750,000 a year, down from 1.2 million in 2007. That’s about 60 percent of normal. Some improvement!

The prices of some key commodities have increased recently.

Oh, really? Have you looked at the price of gold and silver lately? The are setting new highs as I’m writing this!

Deceive and print: how about that as a strategy to get the economy moving again?

German High Court Approves Step Toward European Dictatorship

English: European Central Bank ECB Eurotower i...

English: European Central Bank ECB Eurotower in Frankfurt a.M. Germany Deutsch: Europäische Zentralbank EZB Eurotower in Frankfurt a.M. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision on Wednesday by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court that clears the way for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to extend its power over the national sovereignty of the eurozone’s member states was celebrated as a victory to save the euro.

It was nothing of the sort. It was instead a political victory for dictatorship in the name of the euro.

By putting some temporary limits on just how much the German government can contribute to the ESM, the decision made it appear to be prudent and careful and protective of Germany’s national sovereignty. The court said that Germany’s contribution cannot exceed the currently agreed to amount of $250 billion without approval by the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament (roughly equivalent to the House of Representatives in the United States). And the court also required that funds given to the ESM must be

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The Unintended Consequences of Low Interest Rates

Interest rate vs money balance

Interest rate vs money balance (Photo credit: RambergMediaImages)

Complaints from savers about low rates of return on their money have reached the business page of the New York Times. According to the Times, when Bill Taren, a retiree living near Orlando, Florida, learned that his credit union would pay just 0.4 percent interest on his savings, he decided to take the money out of the bank and put it into his mattress because, he said, “at least there we can see the cash.”

It was worse for Julie Moscove of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over the last four years, she has watched her interest income drop from $2,000 a month to $400 a month. She said, “It’s ridiculous. I cut coupons now.”

And Dorothy Brooks has been forced to go back to work in order to supplement what’s left of her retirement income, after being retired for the last 10 years:

I got hit a couple of years ago pretty badly in the stock market, so now my savings are weighted mostly toward bonds. Now both investments are terrible. And I can’t put my money in a money-market account because that’s crazy. That just pays nothing.

Keynesian economic policies allegedly designed (and sold to the American people) to stimulate the economy are actually having the perverse effect of

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The Fed’s Credibility Continues to Fade

Reuters – At Jackson Hole, a growing fear for Fed independence

Increasing political encroachment on the Federal Reserve, particularly from the Republican Party, could threaten the central bank’s hard-won independence and undermine confidence in the nearly 100-year old institution.

End The Fed San Francisco

End The Fed San Francisco (Photo credit: aarontait)

Reuters is the British equivalent of The New York Times – thoroughly establishment and its voice in England. When they see that the Fed’s credibility is beginning to suffer, you know that the end is near.

The article said that this was “the pervasive sentiment” at the recent Jackson Hole conference (where, as you remember, Bernanke spoke and said nothing).

Alan Blinder was there. He is the quintessential establishment economist: degrees from Princeton, the London School of Economics, and MIT. Served on Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and on the Board of Governors of the Fed. He dreamed up the “cash for clunkers” fiasco that was designed, according to Blinder, to stimulate the economy. We know how well that worked.

Oh yes, he’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations – in fact a member of the board of that gaggle of internationalists.

And he didn’t like what he saw:

I do fear for it a bit if the election comes out that way, especially if some of the more radical voices, that happen to be Republican voices nowadays, get reelected. There’s a lot of hostility.

We know who he is referring to: Ron Paul. And what he’s referring to: the bill that recently passed the House to do a full and complete audit of the Fed.

Buried in the article from Reuters was something amazing: that “radical” influence is already beginning to impact the Fed’s behavior! Part of that was reflected in Bernanke’s heavy emphasis on something he couldn’t prove: that the Fed kept things from getting worse. This is not an argument from substance but from conjecture. It was his way of defending the indefensible.

In all, the Jackson Hole conference did accomplish something: an admission by an establishment mouthpiece that the trust and credibility of the Fed continues to decline, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Romney’s Impossible Mission: Create More Jobs

The Real Romney

The Real Romney (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised August 30 to create millions of jobs — 12 million of them, in fact — if he is elected president in November. He said:

What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.…

I am running for president to help create a better future … a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job.…

His five-point plan consists of attaining energy independence by the year 2020, strengthening the educational system, forging new trade agreements with foreign countries, cutting the deficit with the ultimate goal of balancing the budget, helping small businesses, and repealing ObamaCare. With the possible exception of “helping small businesses” — whatever that means — nothing in his plan addresses the issue of job creation.

The key issue isn’t job creation but wealth creation. Nothing in his platform talks about making it easier for employers to create more value by making it easier for them to make profits. As Dwight Lee, business school professor at Southern Methodist University,wrote:

The purpose of all economic activity is to produce as much value as possible with the scarce resources (including human effort) available.…

There will always be jobs to do far more than can ever be done. So creating jobs is not the problem. The problem is creating jobs in which people produce the most value.

Lee tells the apocryphal story of an engineer traveling in China who observed a large crew of men building a dam using just picks and shovels. When he asked why they weren’t allowed to use heavy earth-moving equipment which would have completed the project in just a few weeks rather than the months the project was taking, he was told that using that equipment would cost many of the men their jobs. The engineer responded, “Oh! I thought you were interested in building a dam. If it’s more jobs you want, why don’t you have your men use spoons instead of shovels?”

Jobs are merely the end result of an economy becoming more productive and more profitable and are not an end in and of themselves. More jobs will be created only after the economy is allowed to

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Spain is Bleeding to Death

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Deposit flight from Spanish banks smashes record in July

Data from the European Central Bank shows that outflows from Spanish commercial banks reached [$92 billion] in July, twice the previous monthly record. This brings the total deposit loss over the past year to 10.9 percent [of deposits]…

Mariano Rajoy en Bilbao. Imagen tomada por Ike...

Mariano Rajoy en Bilbao. Imagen tomada por Iker Parriza (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any capitalist economy, bank deposits represent capital in liquid form. Spain is bleeding to death. Evans-Pritchard quotes another expert:

This is highly significant. Deposit outflows are clearly picking up and the balance sheet of the Spanish banking system is contracting.

This is called deflation: a contraction in the supply of money.

I give blood on a regular basis. But I’m only allowed to give one pint at a time, and I can’t go back in less than six weeks to give another pint. Once, when I was into bike racing, I was reminded by Penrose Hospital that it was time to give blood again. I waited until after the race was over. I wanted to be at my best.

The politicians in Spain don’t know about bike racing, and I have serious doubts about their understanding of capital flows. They’re much more interested in continuing to spend other peoples’ money without hindrance.

Says Evans-Pritchard:

The drip-drip of grim figures came amid fears of a constitutional crisis after the Spanish region of Catalonia requested a €5 billion rescue package yesterday from the central government but refused to accept any political conditions.

There it is in a nutshell: loan us more money so we can keep spending, but without conditions on the loan!

Evans-Pritchard reiterated:

Nothing can happen until Spain requests a loan package and signs a “memorandum” giving up fiscal sovereignty. It remains unclear whether Mr. Rajoy [Spain’s prime minister] will agree to this.

It’s the socialist mindset: only banks and governments can revive the sinking economy. Investors with their own funds in the banks see the lie, and are getting their money out while the getting is good.

Spain is bleeding to death.

Another Uninformed Attack on the Gold Standard

Charles Lane: The Failing Case for Gold

As history abundantly demonstrates, the gold standard would not immunize the economy from financial crises. Imposing it would, however, render the central bank powerless to respond to them, as it could not readily expand credit or act as lender of last resort to solvent institutions.

Gold Key, weighing one kilogram is used to acc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is another perfect example of an uninformed individual given a bully pulpit to promote his ignorance courtesy of the Washington Post.

He refers to a part of the Republican Party’s platform (which means nothing anyway) which calls for a commission to study “possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.” This is an allusion to the study done back in 1980 by the Gold Commission which recommended against the concept, but was dissented to by one of its members, Ron Paul, in his “The Case for Gold.”

And this frightens author Lane:

We can only hope that this iteration of Republican pandering to the gold bugs bears no more fruit than the last one. Touted as a cure for the chronic financial instability that central banking purportedly breeds, tying the nation’s money supply to the supply of gold would be worse than the disease.

We know where he stands: “pandering to the gold bugs” is a giveaway to a polemic, not a rational discussion.

A more rational discussion of the gold standard starts with what it would do: rein in the uncontrollable urge by the Fed to bail out the big banks. The Fed, remember, is a cartel whose mission is to protect the big banks from the consequences of their bad behaviors, using taxpayer monies (or digital money created out of nothing which derives its value from depreciating the value of taxpayer monies).

As Steven Horwitz, an Austrian school economist from St. Lawrence University, notes accurately:

If we had a commodity-based free banking system, we would not have had the boom and bust of the 2000s in the first place. The powers that enable the Fed to create liquidity ex nihilo in a crisis are the very same powers that enabled it to drive the real Federal Funds rate below zero for two years and fuel the housing bubble, which gave us the financial crisis and recession.

Just because the Washington Post has a louder voice doesn’t make it any more credible. A wrong-headed opinion about the gold standard is still wrong, no matter who promotes it, don’t you think?

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.