The economic situation continues to deteriorate this week as past and future bailouts were discussed on Capitol Hill. The debate was over the accountability of already disbursed TARP money, and on whether or not to release remaining funds. Banks that had already been bailed out before are looking for more money to fill the black holes that are their balance sheets, warning that they are simply too big to fail. However, whatever ‘devastating’ consequences these banks are dreaming up and pushing on Capitol Hill regarding their own collapse will be nothing compared to the collapse of our currency if we keep debasing it through these foolish bailouts. It should be that they are too big to bailout. The world will not come to an end without this or that bank. The most troubling thing to me is this rhetoric that only government can save the economy, and must act. This is so counter-productive.
In the midst of highly unpopular bailouts of Wall Street, many justifications have been given about why Washington feels the need to act. Some claim that capitalism and the free market are to blame, but we have not had capitalism. If you compare our financial capital to our aggregate debt, this would be obvious. In the same way, we have not had a truly free market. The monetary manipulations of the Federal Reserve, a complex tax code, the many “oversight” agencies and their mountains of regulations show that we are far removed from a free market economy.
Another unsatisfying argument is that certain entities have to be bailed out because of their economic importance. Supposedly, some entities can be so big, so important, that no matter what they do, citizens must perpetually sustain them.
I’ve discussed just a few benefits of sound money in the last two weeks, and contrasted them to the perils of fiat currency. Sound money keeps government spending in check, keeps trade fair and honest, which reduces the temptations, and many underlying causes, for governments to wage wars. It also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your savings will be able to sustain you in your retirement.
So if sound money is such a good thing, what is stopping people from simply trading with each other in gold and silver? Why are you still being paid in fiat dollars, and why can’t you pay for gas in gold? The answer is that the government has enacted policies that provide considerable stumbling blocks to such transactions.
Many who agree with me on a lot of other issues, do not understand my enthusiasm for gold and sound money or why I spend so much time studying and talking about monetary policy. It's true that I talk about money differently than most, but the fact is sound money offers many benefits. For example – peace.
Can sound money really bring about peace? Actually, it plays a big part in peaceful international relationships. Money based on commodities, rather than paper, is not subject to government manipulation, and is a key component to free and honest trade. History shows that if countries engage in trade with each other, their governments tend to find ways to get along for the same reason you do not kill your customers at your place of business, even if they occasionally annoy you. If someone outright cheats you, however, you may engage in “war” by taking them to court, for example, and the relationship will sour. Governments and central banks with unfettered power to manipulate currency also have the ability to cheat their creditors. One way they do this is to simply create enough currency to pay off debts. This devalues the currency and “cheats” the recipient out of what they are owed. It would not be fair if you watered down your product the way our government waters down its currency, so it is not hard to understand, in these simplified terms, why loose monetary policy contributes so much to ill will and war around the world.
The Latin term “fiat” roughly translates to “there shall be”. When we refer to fiat money, we are referring to money that exists because the government declares it into existence. It is not based on production or earnings, and not backed by any commodity. It is solely based on trusting the government. Fiat money is exchanged in the economy as long as there is faith in the government that issues it.
Some are blaming the recent shakeup in the markets to “whining” or financial fear-mongering, which misses the whole point. History has shown that fiat money, or “faith-based currency” always fails, because when governments claim this power, they always behave irresponsibly.
What will it take to get our troops out of Iraq? The roughly 70 percent of Americans who are firmly against the war often ask this question. Those in power are reluctant to give conditions, but when they do and those conditions are met, the goal post is quietly moved.
Voters were promised, passionately and vehemently, that the new Congress would bring our troops home. Many were explicitly elected in 2006 under that banner. But our troops are still overseas, funding has been increased even beyond the administration's wish list, and troop withdrawal has been negotiated away.
Madam Speaker, I have, for the past 35 years, expressed my grave concern for the future of America . The course we have taken over the past century has threatened our liberties, security and prosperity. In spite of these long-held concerns, I have days--growing more frequent all the time--when I'm convinced the time is now upon us that some Big Events are about to occur. These fast-approaching events will not go unnoticed. They will affect all of us. They will not be limited to just some areas of our country. The world economy and political system will share in the chaos about to be unleashed.
Though the world has long suffered from the senselessness of wars that should have been avoided, my greatest fear is that the course on which we find ourselves will bring even greater conflict and economic suffering to the innocent people of the world--unless we quickly change our ways.
Congressman Ron Paul, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, has written a letter to Chairman Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee calling for a hearing on the relationship between the falling value of the dollar and the recent rise of oil prices, noting:
“The price of oil is currently among the most pressing issues to American workers. Congress should be examining all factors contributing to the high cost of oil, and monetary policy is one of the key factors in the run-up in price.”
Oil prices are on the minds of many Americans as gas hits $4 a gallon, and continues to surge. How high can prices go? How can we solve these problems? What, or who, is to blame?
Part of the answer lies in understanding bubbles and monetary inflation, but especially the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve is charged with controlling inflation through interest rate manipulation, however, many fail to realize that creating money, and therefore inflation, is really its only tool. When the Federal Reserve inflates the dollar as drastically as it has in the past few decades, the first users of the newly created money go in search of investments for their dollars. They must invest this money quickly and aggressively before it loses value. This causes certain sectors to expand beyond what would naturally occur in the free market. Eventually the sector overheats and the bubble bursts. Overinvestment in dotcoms eventually led to a collapse of the NASDAQ. Next we had the housing bubble, and now we are seeing the price of oil being bid up in the creation of another new bubble. Investors are now looking to commodities like oil, for stability and growth as they pull capital out of real estate. This increased demand for investment vehicles related to oil contributes to driving up the price of the actual product.
This morning at a Joint Economics Committee Hearing Congressman Ron Paul had the opportunity to question former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on the economy and the credit crisis.
The hearing was entitled “Wall Street to Main Street: Is the Credit Crisis Over and What Can the Federal Government Do to Prevent Unnecessary Systemic Risk in the Future?”
The House passed two bills attempting to rehabilitate the housing and mortgage market this week. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of criticism and blame for the bad decisions, and rightly so. Lenders and banks do share much of the blame for the overheated market. Lending standards were relaxed, or even abandoned altogether, creating an exaggerated pool of homebuyers that led to ballooning home prices that many, especially real estate investors, expected to continue forever. Now that the bubble has burst, the losses are staggering.
There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the Federal Reserve and the actions it has taken over the past few months. Many media pundits have been bending over backwards to praise the Fed for supposedly restoring stability to the market. This interpretation of the Fed's actions couldn't be further from the truth.
The current market crisis began because of Federal Reserve monetary policy during the early 2000s in which the Fed lowered the interest rate to a below-market rate. The artificially low rates led to overinvestment in housing and other malinvestments. When the first indications of market trouble began back in August of 2007, instead of holding back and allowing bad decision-makers to suffer the consequences of their actions, the Federal Reserve took aggressive, inflationary action to ensure that large Wall Street firms would not lose money.
I have never been opposed to regulation, although my idea of regulation differs from that of many people in Washington. The free market and its forces of supply and demand are the most effective regulator of the private sector, and have never been known to fail absent government intervention. But piling more public sector regulation on the private sector will have a detrimental effect on the health of our financial system and sow the seeds for the next financial meltdown.
These past few weeks have provided an unfortunate opportunity to discuss inflation. The dollar index has reached new all-time lows. The total money supply, M3, as calculated by private sources, is growing at a disturbing 17% rate. The Fed is pumping dollars into the economy at an alarming rate. Just recently the Fed announced new loan auctions totaling $100 billion. That is new money created from thin air. If these money auctions, combined with the bailout of Bear Stearns, continue to be the trend, we are in for some economic stormy weather. The explanation lies in understanding the basics of money, and why it is dangerous to give government and big banks control over it.
First, money is not wealth, in and of itself. You cannot create more wealth simply by creating more money. Wall Street bankers cry out for more liquidity, but what is really needed is more value behind the dollar. But the value, unfortunately, isn't there.
One of our British authors, C.J. Stone, just forwarded me the below movie that outlines just how corrupt and illegal the Federal Reserve is and provides an intriguing method to protest it.
Synopsis for both: Strike (e.g. call in sick) to abolish the Federal Reserve on the IRS tax filling deadline day, April 15, 2008.