Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Articles & Op-Eds

Some light reading…

Posted by Gonzalo Schwarz
April 26, 2011

For the next couple of weeks I will be unable to post a new article, but in the meantime if you would like to continue learning about sound money, inflation, and other related topics I encourage you to read:

On The Origins Of Money
By Carl Menger

…In primitive traffic the economic man is awaking but very gradually to an understanding of the economic advantages to be gained by exploitation of existing opportunities of exchange. His aims are directed first and foremost, in accordance with the simplicity of all primitive culture, only at what lies first to hand. And only in that proportion does the value in use of the commodities he seeks to acquire, come into account in his bargaining. Under such conditions each man is intent to get by way of exchange just such goods as he directly needs, and to reject those of which he has no need at all, or with which he is already sufficiently provided. It is clear then, that in those circumstances the number of bargains actually concluded must lie within very narrow limits. Consider how seldom it is the case, that a commodity owned by somebody is of less value in use than another commodity owned by somebody else! And for the latter just the opposite relation is the case. But how much more seldom does it happen that these two bodies meet! Think, indeed, of the peculiar difficulties obstructing the immediate barter of goods in those cases, where supply and demand do not quantitatively coincide; where, e.g., an indivisible commodity is to be exchanged for a variety of goods in the possession of different person, or indeed for such commodities as are only in demand at different times and can be supplied only by different persons! even in the relatively simple and so often recurring case, where an economic unit, A, requires a commodity possessed by B, and B requires one possessed by C, while C wants one that is owned by A—even here, under a rule of mere barter, the exchange of the goods in question would as a rule be of necessity left undone…

What Has Government Done to Our Money?
By Murray N. Rothbard

…How did money begin? Clearly, Robinson Crusoe had no need for money. He could not have eaten gold coins. Neither would Crusoe and Friday, perhaps exchanging fish for lumber, need to bother about money. But when society expands beyond a few families, the stage is already set for the emergence of money.
To explain the role of money, we must go even further back, and ask: why do men exchange at all? Exchange is the prime basis of our economic life. Without exchanges, there would be no real economy and, practically, no society. Clearly, a voluntary exchange occurs because both parties expect to benefit. An exchange is an agreement between A and B to transfer the goods or services of one man for the goods and services of the other. Obviously, both benefit because each values what he receives in exchange more than what he gives up. When Crusoe, say, exchanges some fish for lumber, he values the lumber he “buys” more than the fish he “sells,” while Friday, on the contrary, values the fish more than the lumber. From Aristotle to Marx, men have mistakenly believed that an exchange records some sort of equality of value—that if one barrel of fish is exchanged for ten logs, there is some sort of underlying equality between them. Actually, the exchange was made only because each party valued the two products in different order…

The Austrian Theory of Money
By Murray N. Rothbard

…In applying the analysis of supply and demand to money, Mises used the Wicksteedian concept: supply is the total stock of a commodity at any give n time; and demand is the total market demand to gain and hold cash balances, built up out of the marginal-utility rankings of units of money on the value scales of individuals on the market. The Wicksteedian concept is particularly appropriate to money for several reasons: first, because the supply of money is either extremely durable in relation to current production, as under the gold standard, or is determined exogenously to the market by government authority; and, second and most important, because money, uniquely among commodities desired and demanded on the market, is acquired not to be consumed, but to be held for later exchange. Demand-to-hold thereby becomes the appropriate concept for analyzing the uniquely broad monetary function of being held as stock for later sale. Mises was also able to explain the demand for cash balances as the resultant of marginal utilities on value scales that are strictly ordinal for each individual. In the course of his analysis Mises built on the insight of his fellow Austrian Franz Cuhel to develop a marginal utility that was strictly ordinal, lexicographic, and purged of all traces of the error of assuming the measurability of utilities.
The relative utilities of money units as against other goods determine each person’s demand for cash balances, that is, how much of his income or wealth he will keep in cash balances as against how much he will spend. Applying the law of diminishing (ordinal) marginal utility of money and bearing in mind that money’s “use” is to be held for future exchange, Mises arrived implicitly at a falling demand curve for money in relation to the purchasing power of the currency unit. The purchasing power of the money unit, which Mises also termed the “objective exchange-value” of money, was then determined, as in the usual supply- and-demand analysis, by the intersection of the money stock and the demand for cash balance schedule. We can see this visually by putting the purchasing power of the money unit on the y-axis and the quantity of money on the x-axis of the conventional two-dimensional diagram corresponding to the price of any good and its quantity. Mises wrapped up the analysis by pointing out that the total supply of money at any given time is no more or less than the sum of the individual cash balances at that time. No money in a society remains unowned by someone and is therefore outside some individual’s cash balances…

Image by Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.