Note: all references to inflation are of the quantity of money and not to the effect on prices unless otherwise indicated.
In last week’s article I showed why empirical evidence of fiat money collapses are relevant to monetary conditions today.
In this article I explain why the purchasing power of the dollar is hostage to foreign sellers, and that if the Fed continues with current monetary policies the dollar will follow the same fate as John Law’s livre in 1720. As always in these situations, there is little public understanding of money and the realisation that monetary policy is designed to tax people for the benefit of their government will come as an unpleasant shock. The speed at which state money then collapses in its utility will be swift. This article concentrates on the US dollar, central to other fiat currencies, and where the monetary and financial imbalances are greatest.
In last week’s Goldmoney Insight, Lessons on inflation from the past, I described how there were certain characteristics of Germany’s 1914-23 inflation that collapsed the paper mark which are relevant to our current situation. I drew a parallel between John Law’s inflation and his Mississippi bubble in 1715-20 and the Federal Reserve’s policy of inflating the money supply to sustain a bubble in financial assets today. Law’s bubble popped and resulted in the destruction of his currency and the Fed is pursuing the same policies on the grandest of scales. The contemporary inflations of all the major state-issued currencies will similarly risk a collapse in their purchasing powers, and rapidly at that.
The purpose of monetary inflation is always stated by central banks as being to support the economy consistent with maximum employment and a price inflation target of two per cent. The real purpose is to fund government deficits, which are rising partly due to higher future welfare liabilities becoming current and partly due to the political class finding new reasons to spend money. Underlying this profligacy has been unsustainable tax burdens on underperforming economies. And finally, the coup de grace has been administered by the covid-19 shutdowns.
The effect of monetary inflation, even at two per cent increases, is to transfer wealth from savers, salary-earners, pensioners and welfare beneficiaries to the government. In no way, other than perhaps from temporary distortions, does this benefit the people as a whole. It also transfers wealth from savers to borrowers by diminishing the value of capital over time.
Inflation of the money supply is now going into hyperdrive, so those negative effects are going to get much worse. It is time to move from empirical evidence to the situation today, which is the unprecedented increase in the global rate of monetary inflation and specifically that of the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar.