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Murray N. Rothbard, the author of 25 books and thousands of articles, was a historian, philosopher, and dean of the Austrian School of economics. The S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he was also Academic Vice President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
This book, written by Murray Rothbard, an economist and historian of fairly well known repute, is a scathing attack on not only the Federal Reserve, but the interests that created this institution. Rothbard is an adept writer, as he takes a concept that can be fairly daunting and makes it accessible to the those readers without an economics background. I considered trying to earn a degree in Economics, but abandoned it when I found out that most of it is tied to higher mathematics. I'm more interested in the conceptual side. Rothbard cuts out math and focuses on the real meat of the issue, the concepts that govern money supply and inflation. The book starts by discussing the biggest problem with the Federal Reserve system, which is fractional reserve banking. Rothbard explains how this system is only functioning because people believe that it works. If there was a run on banks tomorrow, the entire financial system would collapse, because there isn't enough "real" money in reserve to cover all of the bank notes in circulation. Rothbard believes that it is the Fed that causes inflation, and that the Fed is the sole source of inflation in society. It can be a confusing issue to explain, but Rothbard makes it easy. The rest of the book is a detailed history of the creation of the central banking system. This part can be confusing due to the numerous names that Rothbard flies through as he traces the events leading up to the creation of the Fed at Jekyll Island in 1911. Several interesting points are made during this history. Rothbard says that the Progressive movement in American history was essentially engineered by the money interests to help destroy competition. The little guy couldn't afford to put up with all the regulatory laws passed by the government.Read more ›
Ever since the creation of the Federal Reserve Board ("the Fed"), the American economy has been subject to a cycle of boom and bust. Most recently, we saw a bubble in technology stocks in general and telecommunication stocks in particular, fueled by the creation of credit. But no one wants to blame the culprit -- the Fed. Why has an institution that was created allegedly to bring stability to the economy caused such havoc? Equally importantly, why is an institution that has so much power so unaccountable? Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) provides in this book an outstanding discussion of money, banking, the Fed, and U.S. monetary policy. As usual, Rothbard sees the "big picture." There was no need for a central bank, however the Banksters � in combination with Big Business and Big Intellectuals -- pushed for the creation of the Fed. Rothbard's discussion of the battles between the Rockefellers and the House of Morgan is fascinating. (See his Wall Street, Banks and American Foreign Policy for a more elaborate discussion of this great "conspiracy" in U.S. history.) The foundation for this work is Austrian economic theory. Through fractional reserve banking � which is little more than legal counterfeiting � banks are permitted to print new money, thus creating inflation. Yet the central insight of Austrian theory is that this creation of money doesn't simply increase prices, but distorts the cycle of production as it works its way through the economy. This creates the boom and bust cycles that have plagued our economy. For a more detailed discussion of many of the issues raised in this book, the interested reader should consult Rothbard's The Mystery of Banking.
Murray Rothbard writes a scathing indictment of the Federal Reserve System and the book is worth reading if you want to understand your how money comes into existence. According to Rothbard the money in our economy and our personal accounts is created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve, which credits accounts of the Federal Government and member banks with deposits that can then be spent.
Rothbard explains how and why the Federal Reserve and our personal banks do this. The bottom line is that the Federal Government privatized the monetary system of the United States when it created the Federal Reserve early in the last century. Rothbard tells this history and the politics behind that privatization. The results of those politics are that the very organizations the Federal Reserve is designed to control and regulate, banks, actually control the Federal Reserve. The interests of those banks and our interests as consumers of bank services or users of money are not typically the same. Rothbard's point is that the fox has been put in charge of the hen house.
In short the value of our money is a matter of trust. After reading this book the question to ask yourself is, "Do you trust your banker and the Federal Reserve System?" If you do you have nothing to worry about. If you don't, the ultimate consequence of the Federal Reserve will be financial chaos for the United States and the rest of the world and you should probably be buying gold. Rothbard has no trust in the current system. And, Rothbard lays the blame for the Great Depression and the high level of inflation during the 20th Century at the door of the Federal Reserve.
I strongly urge you to read this book and then drop in on your local branch manager and discuss the conclusions Rothbard reaches. You may find you know more about the Fed then the manager. In any case it should be an interesting conversation.
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