Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Congress, The Fed, Inflation, and Hyperinflation

With a push to have a full audit of the Federal Reserve, critics of this move (such as those with the Fed) say that a full audit could jeopardize the Fed's independence.  Of course, Fed officials and other government elitists who benefit from having a secretive central bank do not want an audit because they want to keep the party going at the expense of others.

With that said, perhaps those pushing for an audit should be careful what they ask for.  If there were a full audit and there were enough things found to cause major outrage, there is a chance that Congress could strip power from the Fed and take over the monetary controls.  In fact, Dennis Kucinich is advocating that Congress reclaim its authority (his view, not mine) and take over monetary policy.

As Gary North has pointed out, having Congress in direct control of the money supply would increase the chances of hyperinflation.  In contrast to many other libertarians, I do not believe there is a high probability that we will see hyperinflation.  I think high price inflation is possible, like what the U.S. saw in the 1970's, but I think the chances of hyperinflation (for example, prices doubling every year) are slim.  If Congress directly controlled monetary policy, I would raise the chances.

Assuming that the Fed keeps control of the money supply, I would not be surprised to see double digit price inflation in the somewhat near future.  However, I have given this whole issue some more thought and I also wouldn't be surprised if price inflation does not get as bad as we saw in the 1970's.

I have some reasons for this view.  One reason in particular is Facebook.  We live in a different world now.  While I have many "friends" on Facebook who are libertarians, the majority are not.  I have other libertarian friends who are in the same situation.

If price inflation reaches 10% or more, we just need for someone to produce a good 2 or 3 minute video that explains in simple terms how the only way there can be a sustained increase in the general price of goods and services is by having an increase in the money supply.  Then the video can explain that only the Federal Reserve can directly control the money supply (and maybe the banks with fractional reserve lending).

For every one person who posts a video like this, a hundred people or more will view it.  We live in the age of the internet.  It is harder to get by with ignorance these days.  The Fed can't hide behind the media any more.  Ron Paul has brought this issue to the public's attention and the internet users have spread the word.  With the communication lines wide open as never before, I am hoping that is enough to prevent massive price inflation.

As far as promoting policy, I think the best thing we can do as libertarians is to advocate the repeal of legal tender laws.  We should be free to use the money of our choice.  Who can object to this on moral grounds?  You can ask your non-libertarian friends if people should be allowed to do business with other forms of money without going to jail.  I'm guessing most won't object when you put it in these terms.

If we can repeal legal tender laws, then it will either force the Fed to stop inflating and buying government debt or else other money will become more popular.  We can do to the Fed what the internet and Fed Ex are doing to the post office.

Also, if legal tender laws are repealed and other forms of money begin to sprout up, then hyperinflation becomes less risky to our civilization.  If the dollar became worthless, then there would already be other forms of money to take its place to do business.  The trucks could keep delivering food to stock the shelves of our grocery stores, which is really the most important thing.

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