The True Gold Standard (Second Edition)
Key Writings: Hanke on the Gold Standard
Remarks on Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy — and What We Can Do about It by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames
My big takeaway from Money (McGraw Hill, 2014) is that Steve Forbes is no James Dean. Forbes is a rebel with a cause. Free-markets and sound money, please. In what follows, I will briefly mention 11 other takeaways from my reading of Money by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames.
The Great Recession grinds on. And as it does, politicians of all stripes ask, usually behind closed doors, “Just how miserable are our citizens?” The chattering classes offer a variety of opinions. As it turns out, there is a straightforward way to measure what is termed the misery index.
The late Arthur Okun, a distinguished economist who served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during President Johnson’s administration, developed the original misery index for the United States. Okun’s index is equal to the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates.
Dr. Karl Schiller, West Germany’s Economics Minister between 1966 and 1972, pithily pronounced that: “Stability is not everything, but without stability, everything is nothing.” I agree. In the economic sphere, instability is usually a “bad”, not a “good”.
The world’s great destabilizer is the United States. How could this be? In the post-World War II era, the world has been on a U.S. dollar standard. Accordingly, the U.S. Federal Reserve is the de facto central banker for the world.
Well, it’s official, the economic talking head establishment has declared war on Germany. The opening shots in this battle were fired by none other than the United States Treasury Department, which had the audacity to blame Germany for a weak Eurozone recovery in its semi-annual foreign exchange report. The Treasury’s criticisms were echoed by IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, in a recent speech in Berlin — a speech so incendiary that the IMF opted to post the “original draft,” rather than his actual comments, on its website. Things were kicked into a full blitzkrieg when Paul Krugman penned his latest German-bashing New York Times column.
The claims being leveled against Germany revolve around nebulous terms like “imbalances” and “deflationary biases.” But, what’s really going on here? The primary complaint being leveled is that Germany’s exports are too strong, and domestic consumption is too weak. In short, the country is producing more than it consumes. Critics argue that “excess” German exports are making it harder for other countries (including the U.S.) to recover in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Well, it’s official. President Obama has picked Janet Yellen as his nominee to be the next Federal Reserve Chairman. In the months leading up to this announcement, the press unanimously dubbed Yellen the Queen of the Doves, pointing to her reluctance to roll back the Fed’s Quantitative Easing program. As it turns out, however, Yellen is hardly the dove she is made out to be. Indeed, when it comes to money supply, Dr. Yellen seems, well, downright hawkish.
Traditionally, the dove label has referred to an emphasis on the Fed’s mandate to pursue full employment (even at the expense of slightly higher inflation), while the hawk label has referred to a focus on the Fed’s price stability mandate. In practice, however, the dove-hawk distinction typically comes down to a question of the money supply: to increase, or not to increase?
BY STEVE HANKE: