Mises Daily Articles
Fiat Money and the British Riots
This is going to be tricky to do from a hillside in Cornwall, with a flaky mobile connection and an iPad with a one-letter-at-a-time keyboard. However, it's pouring down with rain this August morning, so let's examine the real sickness at the heart of British society, which is the constant-inflation policy of the British government.
This always-disguised policy has since 1931 corrupted the money supply at an average rate of approximately 6 percent per annum, to constantly drain the wealth of the nation and to pour this stolen wealth into the corrupt, selfish hands of rotten, short-sighted politicians.
We have seen this policy massively extend the power-hungry reach of these moronic busybody politicians into our lives, as it funded the welfare-warfare state and eventually generated the terrible events of the last few days in Britain. These were fueled by the yob society generated directly out of the welfare state, and stimulated by the general warfare mentality of all-against-all that has percolated through to everyone from trigger-happy police enforcing busybody concerns about what people freely choose to ingest into their own bodies to hoodies putting through the windows of honest, hardworking businesspeople.
Ask yourself whether the Britons of 1910 would have put up with the horrific events of the last week, and you'll realize what all of that inflation, warfare, and welfare have done to us since the wholesale state-interference party really got going in 1914 (and onwards) with the massive extension of the state into every tendril of our existence.
It appears as absolutely no coincidence to me that in the middle of this carnage, the chief instrument of this inflation policy — the hapless Bank of England — once again intertwined its own abysmal record of incompetence, predictive failure, and dismal Keynesianism in the same news programs as the hooded menace from the welfare estates of socialism.
"We have failed on every front," the Bank of England said, "so we're going to keep going with yet more of the same failed arrogant predictions and the same broken policies of destructive malinvestment money printing, though we still haven't thought of a new name for quantitative easing. When we do, we'll be sure to slip it out the back door unannounced, but for heaven's sake don't call it money printing."
If you examine this recent piece from the Telegraph, it is clear that these hapless central planners have no clue what they are doing and no idea what damage they are causing with their policies, but they are still unbelievably confident about their ability to precisely predict the future down to the second, five years out, despite having been absolutely wrong about everything for the last five years and more.
Keynesianism is a disastrous failure, as the Japanese will tell you, but the Keynesian central planners at the Bank of England still cling to it in the same way that Linus in the Peanuts gang always clings to his own safety blanket.
It's sad, really.
Whereas £10 of printed money used to generate £1 of GDP growth back in 1971 — enabling the Bank of England to hide the damage of their previous boom-bust inflation with yet more boom-bust inflation — this "magic" has now ceased to work, as Ludwig von Mises predicted in 1912 that it would. Even £100 of newly printed money is now failing to "stimulate" £1 of GDP growth in the economy.
And they have no idea why, the poor loves. They are like gerbils in a cage wheel. No matter how fast they run, they never seem to get anywhere, but they'll keep that running going until they run out of food and drop.
I have news for Mr. King, who maintains this deliberate inflation policy for his paymasters in Whitehall. Even £1,000 of printed money is going to fail to "stimulate" the economy, unless by stimulation you mean the enrichment of glaziers fixing broken windows in North London.
You should also start doing the right thing, and stop doing the precise opposite of the right thing.
It is therefore time to bring in the Austrians. Give the Cobden Centre a call. They have plenty of people who can help you figure it all out.
Until then, the best we can expect in Britain is the constant decades-long depression state of Japan. At worst? Well, to even my shock we have seen the British paper pound lose over 10 percent of its paper-fiat value in one week (masked — or should I say hooded? — by the yob riots).
How far can the paper pound fall before this is all over?
I'm making no more predictions (except that I'll start making predictions again next week), but I jokingly predicted a few months ago that the pound would hit £1,000 for an ounce of gold by Christmas 2012, if the usual 6 percent of deliberate annual inflation was kept going.
However, I was 17 months out in that prediction; it hit that measly target in the last couple of weeks. Once it was comfortably over the £1,000 barrier, I suggested it might breach £1,100 by Christmas this year, but once again I was wrong, as it only took a week.
Think about that.
Ten percent of the purchasing power of your entire life's savings, and all of your pensions and all other non-real-goods investments, has been wiped out in one week due to government incompetence in its monopoly control of money, the lifeblood of civilization.
For nearly 200 years, £4 equaled an ounce of gold. And then this value was inflated away in four main bursts. The first paid for the deaths of millions in World War I, when the pound was "temporarily" debased from gold; the second was achieved after 1931, when the sterling link to gold was eventually broken; the third occurred in 1971, when the pound was based on the paper dollar, itself newly removed from a gold foundation; and the fourth began in 2008, to cover up the monumental failures of Gordon Brown.
But there's nowhere left to go. A fifth burst will give us the joys of Zimbabwe-Weimar hyperinflation.
So we'll potter along with constant low-level depression fed by constant low-level stimulation, punctuated by societal breakdown, until "something turns up."
(My guess is that the elites are desperate for some new technology, like cold fusion, to save their bacon. My terrible fear is that they will generate a major war, 1984 style, to get us all cowering and tugging our forelocks as our children are fed into the meat grinder.)
A conspiracy theorist might even say that the riots of the last week were deliberately generated to cover up all of this woeful economic news, all of it generated by long-term British government inflationary policy.
I won't be that generous, though. I think the British government is too incompetent to conceive, plan, and execute such a thing.
But this economic crisis has not been visited on us by aliens. It is not an act of nature. It is an act of man. And men can fix it, if only they had the wit to realize it.
Alas, I do not see much wit within the present shower of politicians in Westminster. They are far too beholden to special interests. Only one of them knows both what is wrong and what to do about it, but David Cameron would rather have the idiot Vince Cable in his cabinet than bring this single man in, because that is the rancid flower of democracy.
We are now all so used to the state robbing others on our behalf, and protecting our selfish interests with fiat regulation, that we have become incapable of doing the right thing. Especially David Cameron.
But hope springs eternal. Perhaps they will turn to this one man, the only Austrian in parliament, before it is too late?
(You'll have to Google him if you're wondering who this is, because being recommended by someone like me will do him no favors. And no, it's not John Redwood, who is a monetarist, which is just a strange variant of Keynesianism, in the same way that Marxism is a strange variant of Ricardianism.)
But as I said earlier, I'm currently out of the predictions game, so I have no idea if Cameron will eventually boot the fool George Osborne out, and bring in a non-Bilderberg man who actually understands economics.
Sigma volatility is simply too high at the present time.
No doubt the Bilderbergers themselves will try some stupid ersatz "gold standard" based on some stupid ersatz "Bancor" currency, but this will fail, too — far quicker than these would-be philosopher kings imagine.
Only the Austrians know what is happening.
And only they know what to do about it.
Read Mises.org if you want to know more.