It's been several weeks since receiving a complementary copy of Larry Sechrest's Free Banking to live blog about, and high time to get started on the task.
A few preliminary notes: my main task in this venture is to gain a greater understanding of the Rothbardian charge against fractional reserve banking (FRB) as inherently fraudulent. My interest in the subject of government interference in banking and money was initially piqued when, at the 53rd and Lex Barnes and Noble some time in 1997, I randomly picked up a copy of Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and happened upon Greenspan's "Gold and Economic Freedom." I began to understand the issues a couple of years later after reading Rothbard's The Case Against the Fed and What Has Government Done to Our Money? I found his attack on FRB to be highly convincing and seductive; but came to think, after a bit of delving and discussion, that it might be a far more complex subject than Rothbard and Rothbardians have treated it. My own position as I write this is: I think might be ipso facto fraudulent; but I also think the "free banking" camp (Sechrest, also Selgin, White, Humel, Henderson, Dowd, etc.) may be right. My general impression of the free banking position is that it amounts to a large body of circumstantial evidence against the charge of fraud: not a decisive defense, but a compelling one, and one that I feel deserves serious consideration. I'm not prepared to condemn FRB as fraudulent beyond a reasonable doubt; but I'm also not prepared to dismiss the charge on a presumption of innocence.
When I wrote to Jeffrey Tucker expressing interest in live blogging a mises.org title, I suggested Free Banking as a good means to this end. His own enthusiasm, expressed as the belief that Sechrest's book deserved some attention and exposition, confirmed my choice. Hopefully I'll do Dr. Sechrest some justice in this endeavor, however amateurishly.
While I'm generally comfortable with the subject of mathematics (as far as I learned it in my formal schooling at least, i.e., basic calculus), I'm not versed enough in the language to feel able to treat those more mathematical portions of the book (e.g., chapter 2) as confidently as I'd like. For those portions, I expect that I'll be spending my energies trying merely to understand rather than to critique. With that in mind, I may gloss over them and focus on the more "verbal" sections, revisiting the mathematical sections afterward, if at all.