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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Enough with the Praise for Stanley Fischer and Israel’s Central Bank

There should be no central bank which regulates the supply of money.
Stanley Fischer

Stanley Fischer
Photo Credit: Yori Yanover, based on image by Miriam Alster/Flash90

Meanwhile, regardless of whether Stanley Shoemaker creates a shoe shortage or a shoe surplus in the country with his inaccurate divining of the appropriate shoe price and supply, people will have no choice but to buy shoes from him alone, and he will get richer selling them regardless of how crappy the shoes are. Nobody wants to be arrested for being a shoe counterfeiter after all.

Having one man in charge of the shoe supply in a country is bad enough. But it is infinitely worse to have one man in charge of the money supply in an entire country, because the supply and demand for money controls the entire economy, shoes included.

I know that the concept “demand for money” and “price of money” is hard to wrap your head around. Doesn’t everyone demand money all the time? How can it change? How can money itself have a price? Isn’t money money? Bear with me here.

It is difficult for people to understand these concepts these days because fiat government currencies have ruled the world since 1971, and governments the world over have taken upon themselves the exclusive right to produce money, forbidding anything else from entering the market as money. But in reality, money, just like shoes, is a good like any other. The only difference is that money is more easily trade-able than shoes for other goods. In fact, money is the most easily trade-able good that exists. That’s why it’s used as money.

Now, the “price of money” and the “demand for money” are reflected in many different ways. They are reflected in how much money money lenders (AKA banks) charge to borrow money, otherwise known as interest rates. If interest rates are high, then money is “expensive”. If money is expensive and money lenders can charge high interest rates, the “demand for money” must be high too. Otherwise, people would not be willing to pay such high rates in order to borrow money. If interest rates are low, then money is “cheap.” If money is cheap and money lenders are forced to lower interest rates in order to attract borrowers, then the “demand for money” must be low.

The price and demand for money is also reflected in the general economy in terms of the money prices of all other goods and services. At times when the demand for money is high, forcing interest rates up, that means people want to hold more of their money (AKA save) rather than spend it. If people want to save more money, the consequence is that the money-prices of goods and services will go down. Things will get cheaper to buy, because in order to attract sales, merchants will have to lower prices in order to entice more money out of savings.

The high interest rates, or high price of money, will in turn serve to bring the money market back into equilibrium at times when the demand for money is high and prices low, as money-savers (lenders) will earn higher rates of return. This will earn savers more money on their savings, and in that way they will be enticed to spend the money they earned from their saving, bringing prices back up, money out of savings, and interest rates back down as lenders are forced to settle for lower interest rates in order to attract more borrowers again. The demand for money is thus lowered, enabling merchants to raise the money-prices of other goods and services, prices go up, demand for money down, and interest rates down.

A short recap:

Demand for money up = interest rates up = prices down

Demand for money down = interest rates down = prices up

Eventually, this entire process reaches an equilibrium point where relative prices of goods and services in terms of money will stay more or less stable along with interest rates.

Now what about the supply of money? This is the cool part. In a free market, the supply of money will be controlled NOT by Stan the Shekel Man, but by gold and silver mining companies teaming up with private money coiners who in turn team up with private banks. Here’s how it works:

  1. Mining Company A has mined 100 kilos of silver, but needs them coined by a recognized and respected money coiner so he can buy stuff. Merchants don’t accept uncoined blobs of silver because there is no way to tell how pure the silver is. So he goes to Money Coiner B and gives him 100 kilos of silver.
  2. Money Coiner B puts the silver through his coining machine, checks its purity, and stamps it with his stamp of approval by coining it into little circles with his certification on it. He keeps 2 kilos of newly minted silver coins as a commission for his services.
  3. Mining Company A and Money Coiner B then go to Money Bank C and say, “Do me a favor Money Bank C. We have these coins here. They’re too heavy. Could you please put them in your vault and give us paper receipts that the silver is sitting here? Please give the silver to whoever presents you with the receipt.” Money Bank C takes the silver coins, provides them with receipts, and charges Mining Company A and Money Coiner B a small fee for storing the coins and providing the receipts.
  4. All parties go out and spend the paper receipts, AKA “money” in the economy and buy stuff.

How is the supply of money regulated in a free market? In the following way: When the demand for money goes up and the prices of other goods go down, mining companies will make higher profits on the gold and silver that they mine for two reasons:

  1. Since the prices of everything are going down, it will become cheaper for them to do the mining itself, increasing profit margins.
  2. Since the prices of everything are going down, the mining companies will be able to buy more stuff with the gold and silver they produce.

These two factors will entice them to increase production of gold and silver, increasing the supply, bringing interest rates down and prices of other goods and services back up. When prices of other goods and services go back up, it will cost the mining companies more money to mine gold and silver, and they will be able to buy less with the gold and silver they mine. Eventually, profit margins for the gold and silver they mine will go down to a point where they will be forced to lower production. The supply of money will go down and the prices of goods and services back down again with it.

Rafi Farber

About the Author: Rafi Farber blogs at SettlersofSamaria.org.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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