July 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.
“But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20 per cent, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute to Muscle Shoals in some useful way…
“It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. If the currency issued by the Government were no good, then the bonds issued would be no good either…”
“Are you going to have anything to do with outlining this proposed policy?” Mr. Edison was asked.
“I am just expressing my opinion as a citizen,” he replied. “Ford’s idea is flawless. They won’t like it…” read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Thomas Demand
May 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Niall Ferguson has apologized for his offensive suggestion that Keynes’ phrase on being dead in the long run was somehow related to his sexuality or the fact that he was childless. Good for him. Note, however, that in that famous phrase from the Tract on Monetary Reform, from 1923, Keynes was still very much a conventional Marshallian author who thought that full employment would reassert itself, and that the Quantity Theory of Money (QTM) worked pretty well. In fact, it is often said that the Tract was Milton Friedman’s favorite among all of Keynes’ books.
The full quote says:
“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.”
The point of the quote is that in the long run everything would be fine, since markets do get to full employment, and so, even without intervention, deflation and inflation do its magic, but the process is too long and painful, so it would be more reasonable to act in the short run. This was typical of the Cambridge version of Marginalism, which was very much in favor of government intervention to deal with market imperfections in the short run. This is true of Marshal and Pigou, as well as Robertson, and certainly Keynes, before the General Theory. Note that this does not mean, as most people think, that one should only be concerned with the short run. The point is that action in the short run facilitates the road towards the fully adjusted equilibrium in the long run.
This was still essentially Keynes’ view by 1930, when he published the Treatise on Money, a book that is essentially Wicksellian [so at least he got rid of the QTM in this book], and that suggests that unemployment results from a monetary rate of interest that is too high with respect to the natural rate, in practice as a result from the Gold Standard rules, which Keynes wanted to abandon. [This precedes the modern views that the Gold Standard caused the Depression, by the way, as say defended by Barry Eichengreen]. This was a cyclical crisis that could be solved by reducing the monetary rate of interest, and in the short run employment programs, something Keynes defended in Can Lloyd George Do It?
The point of the General Theory (GT) is that there is no natural rate of interest, meaning that reducing the rate of interest would not bring investment to the full employment level of savings, and that the crisis was caused by lack of demand. The equilibrium between investment and savings was determined by variations in the level of output, and in the long run we are not self adjusted to full employment. Hence, the very logic of the phrase above is debunked by Keynes, when he became Keynesian, so to speak, and got rid of the old modes of thinking. read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Ryan McGinley
April 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
1. Gold is a Currency: This is rule number 1. It is not a decorative or industrial metal, it is a permanent store of value, as dictated by Greeks in Lydia around 700 B.C. And, it shall be ever thus.
2. The price of gold cannot fall, it can only be manipulated lower: When gold’s price falls, it is an unnatural act. It can only occur as the result of an international cabal of Central Bankers and politicians. It’s a conspiracy, and we know who the guilty parties are.
3. If the price of gold is rising, it is doing so despite enormous and desperate efforts by manipulators to prevent the rise: This is the corollary to the prior Rule of Gold manipulation. Gold runs up despite the overwhelming opposition to it…
6. Gold works whether the economy is good or bad: When we have a red hot economy, Gold is your hedge against inflation. When we have a bad economy, Gold is a safe harbor against collapse. It is a one way trade that never fails!…
11. Gold is always rallying in one currency or another: Sure, it may be down 30% in Dollars, the reserve currency it is priced in, but you can always find a currency falling faster than it does and claim you own it in that denomination. Last week, it was up in Japanese Yen. This week, it is up in Zimbabwe dollars. read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Adrian Apo