Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Do away with the Fed?

That's what George Selgin argues for in an article, End the Fed? A not-so-crazy idea, in The Christian Science Monitor. Selgin writes - note that the Fed as established in 1913,
But consider: the US economy has actually grown less rapidly since 1914 than it did before. And inflation has been much worse, despite both the Civil War, which featured the nation's worst inflation, and the Great Depression, which featured its severest deflation!

What's more, the frequent downturns before 1914 were due, not to the lack of a central bank, but to foolish government regulations. Topping the list were bans on branch banking, initiated by state governments and then incorporated into federal banking law. The bans propped up thousands of undercapitalized and under-diversified banks – banks unfit to survive major local shocks, let alone macroeconomics ones. They also caused bank notes – competitively supplied counterparts of today's Federal Reserve notes – to trade at discounts whenever they traveled far from the solitary offices of banks that issued them.
And here is an interesting comparison - asset currency is the issue of banknotes not secured by government bonds but based on the assets of the issuing banks,
Would asset currency have been any better? Canada's was: Between 1929 and 1933, for instance, 6,000 US banks failed, and a third of the US money stock was wiped out. In contrast, and despite a fixed Canadian-US dollar exchange rate, Canada's money stock shrank by just 13 percent, and no Canadian bank failed.
But the Canadian government had to fix what wasn't broken,
Notwithstanding this superior outcome, the Canadian government itself abandoned asset currency in favor of central banking in 1935, to placate a growing Canadian movement for easy money.
Now, What use is the RBNZ?

1 comment:

Richard McGrath said...

There is certainly some momentum to at least audit the Fed. Such an examination would be most interesting.