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Who Says the Market Cannot Supply Its Own Money?


I just arrived back from lecturing at the week-long Free State Project’s Tenth Annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, a huge gathering of libertarians of all stripes from all over the U.S. in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. As you can see by browsing the schedule, the festival was chock full of educational and social events as well as commercial activities of the “grey market” (and perhaps darker) variety. Many of the vendors accepted an array of payments media. I was particularly struck by the sign on one stall which read: “Bitcoin, silver coins, Shire Silver, ammo and even Federal Reserve notes accepted.”

shire silver photo

Speaking of alternative payments media, I was very impressed with the panel on Bitcoin’s Future featuring Darren Tapp, Jay Best, Josh Harvey,and Teresa Warmke. It was very informative and the panelists avoided the usual hysteria common among Bitcoin supporters in favor of a serious and sober discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of holding and using Bitcoin and the various technological and political factors that may affect its future value and developments as an anonymous means of transferring money payments.

I was also delighted to discover that privately minted gold and silver money were circulating at the festival in the form of the aforementioned Shire Silver. This consisted of flat strips and wire strands of silver or gold of various weights embedded in plastic cards and denominated in various weight units from .05 grams to 1.0 grams. These were widely accepted as media of exchange by vendors and paid out in change. Pictured on the left are .5 grams of silver with a purchasing power of $1.00 and .05 grams of gold with a purchasing power of $4.00.

Joseph Salerno is academic vice president of the Mises Institute, professor emeritus of economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

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