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Home | Mises Library | 7. Banking and the Business Cycle

7. Banking and the Business Cycle

  • Economics 101
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Tags Booms and BustsMoney and BanksAustrian Economics OverviewBusiness CyclesMoney and Banking

03/01/2004Murray N. Rothbard

One of the most difficult things to understand about banking is how money is created out of thin air.  Current commercial bank liabilities are immediate. The banks do not have the reserves to redeem all demand notes. Thus, banks are inherently insolvent. But, government has eliminated runs on banks. Banks are not allowed to fail when they are mismanaged.

Central banks are sold to the public as restraining inflation, but central banking was created to allow inflation. The inflationary process generates the boom and bust business cycle.

The Bank of England was a great racket. The public accepted new money that was created out of thin air. The King had given the Bank a monopoly on money creation.  President Jackson tried to get rid of the US central banks. Banks created the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The Fed banks now have a monopoly on all paper money. By legal tender law, one must accept Federal Reserve Notes. The Federal Reserve manipulates the money supply by manipulating the Federal reserves. The Central Bank is a lender of last resort. Every bank will be bailed out.

Economists were mainly concerned about the crashes, not the booms, of business cycles. Mises understood that the banks were inherently inflationary. He understood that the expanded money supply was going to commercial banks to loan to longer-term production projects like construction. This credit expansion was not based upon consumers having saved anything. The boom was a bad distortion. It promoted malinvestment. The crash was inevitable and a good thing. Austrians would stop inflating. Austrians during the crash would keep government hands off. 1920 was a great example of this Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle at work.

The seventh of eight sessions from Murray Rothbard's Economics 101 series.

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