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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16361/distefanos-federal-reserve-sunshine-and-lollipops/

Life with the Fed: Sunshine and Lollipops?

April 5, 2011 by

The fake version of history says that without a central bank or its lesser cousin, a national bank, we had nothing but boom, bust, and sorrow — but since the creation of the Federal Reserve System, it’s been nothing but sunshine and lollipops.

FULL ARTICLE by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

{ 25 comments }

J Cortez April 5, 2011 at 9:27 am

Great article.

Paul Marks April 5, 2011 at 9:29 am

This article is indeed great. It is a classic – a refutation of the nonsense that is taught in economics and history classes all over the modern world.

Conrad April 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

Can a simple case be made that with the removal of the Fed and a return to “metal” based monetary policy, the woes of our economy, indeed our society, will vanish?

Ryan S April 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

I don’t think so. Regulations can still allow fractional reserve banking and suspension of specie payments.

Mr Whipple May 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

Hmmm, I believe the National Bank Act would have to be repealed, along with legal tender laws, to get a truly “Free Banking Regime”, as defined by Vera C Smith. Some changes to bankruptcy laws wouldn’t hurt, either.

Mr Whipple May 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

the woes of our economy, indeed our society, will vanish?

No. Absolutely not. Unless we turn everybody into robots. But it would be better. Much better, more free, and more fair.

Reed April 5, 2011 at 9:49 am

Austrians who appear on tv often can gain a lot from reading this piece. Fed apologists always make it a point to refer to the recessions and bank runs of the pre-Fed days as a sufficient anti-market, pro-Fed argument. If there’s one thing Austrians need much work on, it’s quick rebuttals and talking points. They’re seeing much more airtime these days and they need to learn to play the media game.

mushindo April 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

Reed is right.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mass appeal , a carefully advanced chain of logic, howevewr impeccable and irrefutable, cannot compete with a catchy soundbite which presses emotive buttons.

Its a pity, but there it is. We must either play to the gallery, or go back to th eivory tower and read each others’ publications in obscure journals.

S April 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

You guys should check out an Economics class taught at Middle Tennessee State University called: “Financial Systems And The Economy” – (ECON 3210). It is 50% basics of banking and financial instruments, but the other 50% is pure Federal Reserve propaganda. Nearly every chapter mentions the Fed and the recent crises, adorning the Fed as the de facto savior. It explains the crises as a result of greed and lack of financial oversight. The Dodd-Frank bill is covered with little controversy, mentioning that some congressmen opposed it but never daring to name names. This course boils my blood two days a week. It is also a required course to get a degree in Economics at MTSU. The teacher, who really does seem to be a good person who genuinely cares about us, recently came to academia from an industrial background. He strikes me as the perfect type of mainstream guy who follows the lesson plan step by step with little personal input. One of the co-authors of the textbook, R. Glenn Hubbard, was in line for Bernanke’s job as Fed Chairman; this is a fact that I just can’t accept as coincidence…

J. Murray April 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I almost went there because they dangled a $1,000 “scholarship” in my face.

Anonymous April 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Hey Justin, I hate to comment on this but could you turn down the useless commentary you make on Mises?

J. Murray April 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Nope, I enjoy making useless commentary. Must have found me via the WSJ.

Ryan S April 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I enjoy your commentary more than almost anyone else’s. Please continue.

A. Viirlaid May 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

To S —— Great Comment, though depressing.

I have found the same thing —— well-meaning, even “well-educated” economist-teachers who BUY The FED’s “line” HOOK, LINE, and SINKER.

The FED ALWAYS causes the problems and then rides in like the Lone Ranger or Mighty Mouse to “SAVE THE DAY”.

You said it well: MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL!

HOW LONG WILL THE POLITICIANS and regular AMERICANS continue to buy this line of NON-REASONING?

Sure is sad, because the regular Americans are the ones who suffer from all the FOOLhardiness of The FED —— one BOOM-BUST cycle after another!!!

How many people are driven to despair, broken families, and even suicide, and they do not even suspect that The FED is ultimately the one who creates these up-and-down-disruptions to the Economy that ultimately reflects in our depressing socio-economic life?

Most people never understand the connection of The FED’s doctors and the Malpractice that they enforce on the American Society.

Talk about Ignorant Social Engineers!!! Well-meaning surely, but sure ignorant of the harm they do!!!

A. Viirlaid May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

To S I do not know if you saw the movie INSIDE JOB?

There was an interview with Glenn Hubbard some of which you can see at “Give it your best shot” – Glenn Hubbard (from Inside Job) at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlIoeTObmEk

The movie’s official trailer is at “Inside Job OFFICIAL Trailer HD EXCLUSIVE 1080p” at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZm7M1vn15w&feature=fvwrel

The problem with Professional Economists is that, if they are Austrian Economists they advocate Non-Intervention —— and nobody hires them or promotes them, because what can Non-Interventionists “DO”? For Austrians, “Applied Economics” is an oxymoron.

The problem with Professional Economists who are Non-Austrians is that they always ADVOCATE INTERVENTION which leads to sub-optimal, and often very INJURIOUS results.

The Austrian Economists can never “win” in this scenario, because very few people understand (like does Dr. Ron Paul) that non-intervention is always the best policy.

By the time the BAD effects of prior FED-intervention is felt, the average person feels that The FED is now needed to fix the effects of that previous BAD policy —- but has no idea that The FED was the one who implemented that bad prior policy.

mushindo April 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

Hm. This underscores – again – the central point that all of the evils popularly attributed to capitalism arise not from capitalism itself, but from authoritarian attempts to interfere with its effective working. Ultimately all such intervention has the effect of weakening, or removing, the institutional constraints to which the market naturally subjects greed.

Bearing in mind that nobody begrudges fair recompense ( whatever ‘fair’ is taken to mean), I suppose ‘greed’ should be defined:

Greed (n): ‘ the expectation of economic gain without yielding a concomitant reciprocation of benefits’.

This reads uncannily like a definition of rent-seeking. This is no accident. The two concepts are identical. The problem is that the two words have been spun out of all recognition in different directions: the G word is popularly seen as a synonym for capitalism, and evokes all sorts of negative emotive associations. The R-phrase is a dry academic term seldom encountered outside economics faculty, and misunderstood as being peculiar to landlords.

But the lesson from academia is clear and uncontroversial: Theoretically and empirically, rentseeking cannot be sustained in a free market, and when it arises, those attempting it will find themselves priced out of business. It requires government support to succeed. In any market, anywhere.

Coming back to the Fed, and recognising that greed = rentseeking, we can say this: If Wall Street is greedy, its because the Fed creates the space for them to get away with it. That’s the fault of government, not the market. Case closed.

Daniel April 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

and rainbows

billwald April 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The problem isn’t banks whatever their name may be. The problem is banks “to big to fail.” “Power corrupts . . . ” and a big bank run by The Mises Institute would not be less dangerous, no matter how well intentioned at the start.

Tyrone Dell April 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Its slightly more complicated than that, I’m afraid. To parallel Mises’s argument from Human Action (regarding the “chocolate king”):

Government is an apparatus of compulsion and coercion. It has the power to obtain obedience by force. The political sovereign, be it an autocrat or the people as represented by its mandataries, has power to crush rebellions as long as his ideological might subsists.

The position which entrepreneurs and capitalists occupy in the market economy is of a different character. A “big bank” has no power over the consumers, his patrons. He does not rule the consumers, he serves them…. He loses his “kingdom” if the consumers prefer to spend their pennies elsewhere. Nor does he “rule” his workers. He hires their services by paying them precisely that amount which the consumers are ready to restore to him in buying the product. Still less do the capitalists and entrepreneurs exercise political control. The civilized nations of Europe and America were long controlled by governments which did not considerably hinder the operation of the market economy. Today these countries too are dominated by parties which are hostile to capitalism and believe that every harm inflicted upon capitalists and entrepreneurs is extremely beneficial to the people.

By the way, regarding the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, they have an entire page dedicated to Ludwig von Mises and selected quotes from his major books! I’m still stunned: http://www.dallasfed.org/research/ei/ei0104.html

Tyrone Dell April 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm
A Country Farmer April 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

These types of articles are really amazing because they are so comprehensive. Thanks.

Jacob Steelman April 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

In addition to the many panics (and the destruction of capital and wealth of millions of individuals) caused by the Fed let’s not forget the many wars of the 20th and 21st Centuries which were made much easier to finance by the Fed and various central banks – WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam-Indochina War, Middle East Wars of the 1960s & 1970s, Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War of Bush Senior, the Iraq War of Bush Junior, the Afghanistan-Pakistan War of Bush-Obama as well as all the local border wars in various countries around the world (eg. the Ecuador-Colombia border war). This all resulted in making the 20th Century the most bloodiest and destructive century in human history. This is the true Evil Empire of the World.

A. Viirlaid April 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The FED can succeed in fooling people like Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer because, as Thomas E. Woods, Jr. points out, people like Joseph N. DiStefano (IMO) have a very peculiar and narrow perspective on Financial and Economic History.

Such People have a paucity of information at hand because for one thing they did not live in the times they are describing.

They also apparently have not bothered (as Mr. Woods has done) to refer to the rich vein of Historical Data which exists and which is one that would give them a better vantage point on what really went on “back then”.

No, instead such people will again have to live through such a failure in ‘Real Time’ (even though they just lived through witnessing The FED-induced debacle of 2008), so long as they accept ‘help’ from America’s Central Bank, The FED.

We cannot be sure that Such People will ever learn.

For one thing, The FED’s propaganda machine is very effective.

When The FED’s ‘stimulation’ creates an unsustainable boom, which results in the inevitable bust, The FED rides in on its white horse and proclaims “We will Save YOU!” Then the cycle starts all over again.

The FED was ‘successful’ (as inappropriate as that word is) in refloating the Economy after the dot-com meltdown.

This time I think even The FED won’t be able to save anyone from the mess they created in the last cycle (from 2001 to 2008).

The reason that The FED appears to be ‘successful’ over time (for most of the damaging cycles of its own making since 1950) is that America has been very proficient in growing economically IN SPITE of The FED’s stupid policies.

America has always managed to improve Her productivity and engaged in applying technological improvements to Her Economy, especially during the 20th Century.

What has changed though since 1950 is that America is no longer the world’s leading manufacturing Economy. This means that the technological and productivity improvements behind which The FED’s stupid policies could hide in the past are far less available (and perhaps cannot be relied on at all) in this current cycle of ‘recovery’. And IMO this means that this ‘recovery’ will not be a true recovery like past ones.

We don’t really give much credit to the American people, her entrepreneurs and workers, for the actual recoveries that occur after FED-induced busts occur. But it is never The FED that ‘saves’ anyone. America saves herself IN SPITE of The FED’s shenanigans.

If it is true that a mostly Service-oriented Economy (like America is today, relative to what is was even 20 years ago) can no longer rely on the processes that ‘saved’ the day in those past recoveries, then what hope is there for America to get out of the current funk?

Well, with The FED at the helm, and with all due respect to Mr. DiStefano, there is none (IMO).

Past recoveries were certainly ‘stimulated’ by The FED’s Easy Money —- so why it not ‘work’ this time?

First of all, those past ‘recoveries’ were based on a lot of misappropriation of resources, but hey, if you are rich, you might not even notice the losses created by such malinvestments —- you might even think that they were part and parcel of “Creative Destruction”. (In other words, The FED was doing very real damage to the real economy each and every time that it engaged in its disruptive and intrusive monetary injections during past downturns.)

Secondly, any price inflation that might have occurred in past ‘recoveries’ (relative to a base of Zero Price Inflation) would have been ameliorated by the price deflation induced by productivity and technological improvements.

(By the way, IMO The FED is wrong, as most Austrians agree, with being worried about Price Deflation — for Austrians it is a complete and utter waste of time and resources to ‘fight’ Price Deflation with ‘easy money’ and below-free-market interest rates.)

So what is it that so concerns me about the current cycle and the lack of any meaningful recovery?

It is this —- THIS TIME The FED can only induce relative price inflation —— it cannot make The Economy more productive nor can it magically make technological improvements appear (nor thus can it rely on those improvements to hide the Price Inflation that its policies ALWAYS result in, even when such price inflation [relative to zero price inflation] appears NOT to manifest itself).

In fact, in a world where resource and other input costs are rising fast than The FED-induced Easy-Money ‘growth’ can manifest itself, The FED is bound to fail.

While price inflation CURRENTLY appears to be a non-threat, that inflation is most certainly outpacing any improvements in the real income of Americans. In effect, The FED is making Americans poorer, by ensuring that their paychecks go less and less far in terms of purchasing power.

So Americans get poorer, living standards fall, and jobs are not created to keep pace with population increases — and yet people like Mr. DiStefano still defend the Existence of The FED.

WHY?

Well you got me on that.

I guess they think that such ‘panics’ occur naturally and come from God — or someplace.

So if such ‘panics’ are inevitable, and cannot be predicted, and come randomly like true so-called Acts of God (like tsunamis) then it MUST BE that we need ‘saviors’ like The FED in our Hour of Need?

Well I am glad that Austrians don’t drink THAT particular Kool-Aid.

To me it is clear that WE DO NOT NEED THE FED because it is not our Friend.

It is Harmful NOT Helpful.

It is Destructive NOT Constructive.

To be sure, it is not Harmful on PURPOSE — nor does it WISH to destroy America.

But it is the nature of the beast and its mandate — it is part of a very sick and dying Broken Money System.

It must be ENDED simply because it does not serve ANY USEFUL PURPOSE — but if it were only that it was USELESS and consumed a few resources to pay its workers, that might not matter — America is relatively rich and can afford a lot of idiocies. That’s why people can get away with so many trivial purchases amongst the more important ones they make.

But the more important point is this — The FED is slowly doing insidious HARM — it is making American and many Americans PAUPERS in their own Homeland.

That is why The FED must END.

Amanojack April 6, 2011 at 1:08 am

Pro-tip: putting words in ALL CAPS isn’t that bad, but Capitalizing Words for Emphasis makes you look like a Total Nutcase.

A. Viirlaid April 6, 2011 at 9:08 am

Amanojack

With all Due Respect, Tell it to The People Who write in German.

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