Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dual Entry Accounting - Man’s Greatest Innovation, Modern Central Banking – Man’s Greatest Catastrophe - Part III – Money or Credit?

10/19/2011 Portland, Oregon - Pop in your mints…
For those of you who have missed Part I and/or Part II, you may read them by clicking on the following links:

Dual Entry Accounting - Man’s Greatest Innovation, Modern Central Banking – Man’s Greatest Catastrophe - Part I

Dual Entry Accounting - Man’s Greatest Innovation, Modern Central Banking – Man’s Greatest Catastrophe - Part II - Irony

For those of you who are too lazy to click the links, we do not blame you.  Below we offer a brief summary to get you up to speed:

Central Banking is the physical expression of Man’s need to safeguard his wealth and to increase trade.  A Central Bank’s usefulness and scope were greatly increased when dual entry accounting could be employed to manage a Central Bank’s accounts.

The Central Bank’s role as a storehouse of wealth has generally attracted the attention of the Government, which is the physical expression of Man’s need to protect his life.  The Government, in this capacity, does not generate wealth and must maintain itself either by taxing its subjects or borrowing funds.

The Central Bank, as the repository of wealth and facilitator of trade, by default creates a majority of the banknotes which circulate in a society.  As such, the Central Bank becomes the natural creditor of the Government.  Whether it lends funds directly to the Government or indirectly, the result is the same.  That result is that the use of its subject’s wealth by the Government is greatly facilitated by the existence of a Central Bank.

Having established the fact that some form of both a Government and a Central Bank will come into existence and become increasingly interdependent, the only question is one of the size and scope of such entities.
Central Banking, like alcohol and socialism, may be a good idea when used in moderation.  However, each one of these also represents a catastrophe waiting to happen.  For if the circumstances under which they are created or used take an unfavorable turn, they wealth and lives of many may be lost in a very short period of time.

It is clear today that the scale of modern Central Banking is excessive and that the potential for catastrophe is unprecedented.

How, when, and most importantly why will this catastrophe take place?  As mere mortals, we can only answer the why and speculate as to the how and when.

Why, then, will the current system of Central Banking come to an end which will cause wealth destruction on a scale which will make the weapons of war seem like child’s play in comparison?

The answer, fellow taxpayer, is that money as it is widely understood today does not really exist.

You read correctly.  What a majority of the developed and semi-developed world uses as a store of wealth, unit of account, and medium of exchange, is a figment of the collective imagination.

Allow us to explain.  It is generally understood today that the value of money is not necessarily in money proper, rather the value of money is found in the ability of the bearer to exchange said money for goods and services.  What is often overlooked in this observation is that, for money to be exchanged for something of value between willing participants of a transaction, what is used as money in the transaction must be universally perceived to have value that is easily transferable between parties.

Following this logic, what society uses as money is, by definition, simply another good which is widely recognizable as useful in exchange and therefore carries a price premium (we will call it the monetary  premium) of a certain amount usually far above what some economists would incorrectly* call the good’s “intrinsic” value.

* We say incorrectly because value judgments, while often influenced by what are known as “market” or “intrinsic” values, are by definition made by the individuals who willingly enter into a transaction, not disinterested observers.  It is for this reason that it is more accurate to appraise value by observing price points of transactions on “the margin” (i.e. transactions that are actually taking place) as opposed to appraising value based on past transactions or transactions imagined to take place in the future.  Many are the hypothetical gains and losses of those who refuse to enter into transactions because they are waiting for and offer at “market prices” or the “intrinsic value” of an item.

Regardless of the monetary premium that a good may carry, whatever is used as money, by definition, must be a tangible good.  Otherwise, we are dealing with credit, which is a promise to pay in money at a future date. Credit may be given in exchange in the place of money and is often traded at a discount to money delivered immediately. 

The distinction between money and credit is common knowledge to but it is important to make a clear distinction in order to properly understand what happens next.

In roughly 9.000 years of human history, it has been tacitly agreed upon that silver and gold, usually in coin or bar form, are the highest and most widely recognized goods used as money and that the accumulation of silver and gold represent wealth. 
Examples of Money Proper - Courtesy of Mark Herpel - www.dgcmagazine.com

As you recall, the concept of a Central Banking arose in response to the need for man to protect his wealth.  You will further recall that in order to both protect wealth and facilitate trade, a Central Bank creates banknotes which represent a claim on the wealth being protected by the Central Bank. 

These banknotes which the Central Bank creates are, by definition, credit and not money.  They are generally the highest, least discounted, form of credit which is traded, but this does not change the fact that the banknotes are credit and thus carry an implied risk of default.  This risk of default places the ultimate limit on the circulation and acceptance of the banknotes in trade.

From time to time, when a Central Bank’s ability to protect the wealth entrusted to it came into question, banknotes would be presented to the Central Bank to be redeemed for the amount of silver and gold which they represented.  If the Central Bank could not produce the amount of silver and gold that was being redeemed, the Central Bank was considered to be in default and, as word of the default spread, the banknotes in circulation would trade at an ever increasing discount to real goods.

This logic further supports the fact that banknotes are credit, subject to default risk, and not money proper.

Can you now smell the impending catastrophe?  Or, to put the question more directly:

What’s in your wallet?  More tomorrow,

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

P.S.  For more ideas and commentary please check out The Mint at http://www.davidmint.com/

Key Indicators for October 19, 2011

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,671 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,201,800,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,554,000,000,000 YIKES UP $1 Trillion in one year!!!!!!!