Today’s worldwide paper-, or “fiat-,” money regime is an economically and socially destructive scheme — with far-reaching and seriously harmful economic and societal consequences, effects that extend beyond what most people would imagine.
Fiat money is inflationary; it benefits a few at the expense of many others; it causes boom-and-bust cycles; it leads to overindebtedness; it corrupts society’s morals; and it will ultimately end in a depression on a grand scale.
All these insights, however, which have been put forward by the scholars of the Austrian School of economics years ago, hardly play any role among the efforts of mainstream economists, central banks, politicians, or bureaucrats in identifying the root cause of the current financial and economic crisis and, against this backdrop, formulating proper remedies.
This should not come as a surprise, though. For the (intentional or unintentional) purpose of policy makers and their influential “experts” — who serve as opinion molders — is to keep the fiat-money regime going, whatever it takes.
The fiat-money regime essentially rests on central banking — meaning that a government-sponsored central bank holds the money-production monopoly — and fractional-reserve banking, denoting banks issuing money created out of thin air, or ex nihilo.
In The Mystery of Banking, Murray N. Rothbard uncovers the fiat-money regime — with central banking and fractional-reserve banking — as a form of embezzlement, a scheme of thievery.
Rothbard’s conclusion might need some explanation, given that mainstream economists consider the concept of fiat money as an economically and politically desirable, acceptable, and state-of-the-art institution.
An understanding of the nature and consequences of a fiat-money regime must start with an appreciation of what money actually is and what it does in a monetary exchange economy.
Money is the universally accepted means of exchange. Ludwig von Mises emphasized that money has just one function: the means-of-exchange function; all other functions typically ascribed to money are simply subfunctions of money’s exchange function.
With money being the medium of exchange, a rise in the money stock does not, and cannot, confer a social benefit. All it does is reduce, and necessarily so, the purchasing power of a money unit — compared to a situation in which the money stock had remained unchanged…