The lead article on LewRockwell.com this weekend is titled "How Hyperinflation Will Happen".  I don't really like to pick a fight with someone who is being published on Lew Rockwell's website, but it is important that you understand some errors of the author.  I don't know anything about the guy, but he is obviously very knowledgeable and he is probably a strong libertarian.

While I think hyperinflation is possible in this country, I don't think it is the most likely outcome.  But the thing that amazes me most about this guy's article is how nonchalant he is at the end of the article.  He expects hyperinflation to happen in the near future so he suggests investing in hard metals.  While this may be good advice, he is saying that it will just pass by, as if it is no big deal.

If we experience hyperinflation in this country, that is just about a worst case scenario.  It could mean a total breakdown of the division of labor.  It could mean riots and millions of people starving in poverty.  He doesn't understand the implications of his prediction.

Now, let's move on to his prediction of how we get there.  He basically says that there will be a crash in U.S. treasuries (please read the article yourself to see his full explanation).  Maybe I'm missing something here, but he may be getting his cause and effect mixed up.  High inflation rates is what causes high interest rates (and lower bond prices).  Investors demand a premium because they are expecting to be paid back in depreciated dollars.  An increase in interest rates isn't what causes inflation or hyperinflation.

Inflation is a monetary phenomenon.  Individual prices can go up or down based on the supply and demand of the product.  Prices can go down due to increased technology and efficiency.  Prices can go up because of government taxes and regulations.  But the only things that can cause a general rise or decrease in the overall price level are velocity (demand for money) and the supply of money (you could include fractional reserve banking with this).

It is possible for velocity to cause hyperinflation.  If everyone turned into an Austrian economist tomorrow morning and decided that the U.S. dollar is a worthless fiat currency, then it is possible for everyone to start trying to get rid of their dollars by buying things, thus bidding up prices.  However, this scenario is highly unlikely.

The only likely thing to cause hyperinflation is a dramatic increase in the money supply.  It would also be expected by the market that the money supply would keep growing in the future.  As discussed in other posts, the monetary base has more than doubled in less than 2 years, but most of this money is sitting as excess reserves.  This has stopped massive price inflation.

While the author of this article raises some good points, his reasoning for hyperinflation fails.  Even Milton Friedman understood that inflation is a monetary phenomenon.  We will likely only see hyperinflation if we see a huge increase in the money supply on an on-going basis.