Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Poor on Stewart

Poor on Stewart
Thomas Allen

    In 1877, Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905) wrote Money and Its Laws: Embracing a History of Monetary Theories, and a History of the Currency of the United States. He was a financial analyst and founder of a company that evolved into Standard & Poor’s. Poor was a proponent of the real bills doctrine and the classical gold-coin standard and, thus, the quality theory of money. He gave little credence to the quantity theory of money — especially if credit money, such as bank notes, were convertible on demand in species. Also, he contended that the value of money depends on and is derived from the value of the material of which it is made and with paper money, its representation of such value.
    In the latter part of his book, he discusses leading monetary theorists from Aristotle (350 B.C.) to David A. Wells (1875). Most of the economists whom he discussed were proponents of the quantity theory of money. We will look at his discussion on Dugald Stewart. My comments are in brackets. Referenced page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Poor’s book.
    Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) was a Scottish philosopher and mathematician, who popularizing the Scottish Enlightenment. He was a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Among his writings are Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (in three volumes, 1792, 1814, and 1827), Outlines of Moral Philosophy (1793), and The Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers (1828). Poor reviews Stewart’s monetary philosophy as presented in his Lectures on Political Economy.
    Poor writes, “Stewart was an ardent admirer of [Adam] Smith, and assumed to reduce to precise and logical terms what his great master only more generally outlined”  (p. 171). Nevertheless, Stewart objected to Smith’s belief that the value of gold and silver depended largely on “their beauty, utility in the arts, and scarcity; that such qualities, among others still more important, fitted them to serve as money” (p. 171). For Stewart, the intrinsic value of gold and silver in a coin is “merely accidental circumstances.” Stewart asserts, “When gold is converted into coin, its possessor never thinks of any thing but its exchangeable value” (p. 171). If the intrinsic value of gold and silver are annihilated, i.e., their conversion to flatware, jewelry, etc., they could still function as money as they did when they had intrinsic value. Money is merely a ticket or counter. “It is general consent alone which distinguishes them [gold and silver], when employed as money, from any thing else which circulates in a country; from the paper money, for instance, which circulates in Scotland and England.” (p. 172). If a country were isolated from the rest of the world, gold or silver coin as a medium of exchange would have no advantage over paper currency. Also, whether the circulation medium consists of gold or paper would make no difference on the national wealth. Moreover, according to Stewart, whether gold or silver was abundant or scant would not matter. “The only utility which is essential to gold and silver as media of exchange is their peculiar adaptation (divisibility, durability, &c.) to this purpose” (p. 172). [For the most part, fiat money proponents agree with Stewart’s monetary theory.]
    Poor replies that like Smith, Stewart errs in his assumption “that money was an invention, — an arrangement entered into from a sense of its necessity” (p. 172). Stewart also errs in his conclusion “that value is not a necessary attribute of money” (p. 173). [Poor is correct: Money was not an invention. It evolved over time from spontaneous market operations. Only after money came into being did governments get involved.]
    However, Stewart’s idea of money is a logical derivation from Smith’s idea. From the premises laid down by Smith, Stewart concluded that “value is no attribute of money.” Poor remarks, “the real value of money must equal its nominal value, or, in case of symbols, the values of what they represent must equal their nominal value in coin, or value is no attribute of money whatever” (p. 173). [Today’s fiat paper money is based on Stewart’s premise that value is no attribute of money. That is, the quality of money is irrelevant. Force is the only thing behind, or backing, today’s fiat paper money.]
    Stewart states, “We never think when we receive the precious metals as money, of their value in the arts” (p. 173). To which Poor replies, “But were they not first taken, and chiefly, for their value in the arts? and if we do not now consciously go through the same mental process that was gone through when they were first taken, is it not that such consciousness is concealed from us by habit, not that it does not exist” (p. 173)? People practice many things without conscious thought about how such practice came into being. Acting this way “is no proof that the mind is not engaged in one case as in the other” (p. 173). Poor notes:
Stewart, however, wholly misstated the fact that gold and silver are taken without any consciousness of their value in the arts. As a rule, we do not raise the inquiry; we assume from experience that coins are what they purport to be: but let it be noised abroad that debased coins of a particular denomination are in circulation, then every one of the kind, good or bad, will be subjected to the closest scrutiny, and, if taken at all, will only be taken at its value in the arts, measured by the amount of pure metal it contains (pp. 173-174).
    Stewart claims that if all gold and silver mines were exhausted, all the gold and silver in existence would be converted to money. Poor disagrees. First, he doubts the possibility of exhausting of all mines. If gold and silver were to disappear, civilization would disappear with them. However, if all mines were exhausted, Poor doubts that all gold and silver would be converted to money. Poor writes:
As it [gold] gradually disappeared from loss and attrition, commerce and trade, and with these, civilization and wealth, would gradually die out. As these disappeared, gold and silver would gradually flow back into the arts, and almost wholly in time; for, as there would be no trade, money would not be wanted. It is a fact of universal observation, that gold and silver possessed by the savage races are not used as money, but almost wholly in the arts (p. 174).
    To Stewart’s belief that “gold and silver, as a medium of exchange, would possess no value over the most worthless of substances” (p. 175), Poor replies:
This absurdity is repeated by every subsequent writer upon the subject of money. Suppose England to be the world, what then? Would all sense of beauty, of utility or value be lost to its people? Suppose, as Stewart assumes, England isolated, a Yorkshire grazier should take with him to London a lot of beeves; and upon their sale should be offered a leather medal, with curious hieroglyphics stamped upon it, in payment. The seller at first might consider the offer as a good joke; but, on finding the purchaser in earnest, he would believe himself to be dealing with a madman, and would take good care to get his beeves into his possession again, and to rid himself of such a dangerous customer. To be logical, Stewart must assume that, were England isolated from all the world, its people would have a sense of neither use nor beauty; in other words, that they would be lower in the scale than any race or tribe ever yet discovered. If the precious metals have no intrinsic value, then the Scythian was correct in assuming money to be useful only for the purpose of assisting in numeration and arithmetic. It is for this reason that Stewart held their value to be disadvantageous, in complicating thereby the theory of money. If value be not an attribute of money, he was quite right in eliminating from it all idea of such quality (p. 175).
[The fiat paper monetary system that has now taken over the world supports Stewart’s notion of money better than it does Poor’s. However, Poor’s notion is much closer to the truth than Stewart’s. Because of believing Stewart, the world is now on the edge of a monetary crisis the likes of which the world has never before witnessed. Civilization is on the verge of collapsing into an economic abyss from which it may never recover, such as that which happened when the dying Roman civilization collapsed into the Dark Age — only this time the collapse may be worse. Only a return to a commodity monetary standard, such as the gold standard, where money has real value in non-monetary uses and can extinguish debt because it is no one else’s obligation, can save it.]
    Poor asks if Stewart is correct in that money as such has no value, then what harm can come from debasing coins? When a coin is debased, the denomination remains the same. However, the precious metal content of the coin is reduced. [Historically, when precious-metal coins were debased, prices quickly rose to adjust to the precious metal content of the debased coin. Even the death penalty could not deter this price adjustment.] Poor remarks, “If the sole use of money, as asserted by Stewart, be to assist in numeration and arithmetic, then the different denominations of coin have only the force of numerals; and a piece of leather upon which is imprinted the word ‘dollar’ is in its proper essence the same thing as a piece of gold upon which the same word is impressed” (p. 176). He continues,
Hume was more logical and consistent. Agreeing with Stewart that the only value of money, as such, was to assist in numeration and arithmetic, he took the ground that the currency should be debased, as the means of eliminating value from it; naively remarking, that such debasement should be effected in such a sly way that the people should not discover the swindle. Of the two, Hume is to be preferred. The admission that the debasement was a swindle had the merit, at least, of putting the people on their guard (p. 176).
    Stewart writes that money provides a “scale of value” instead of a “standard of value,” which is the term that Smith uses. Thus, Stewart is more accurate than Smith about his concept of money. Poor notes, “It would be a contradiction in terms to call that a standard of value which had no value. A thing may be a scale, without being a standard. A yardstick is a scale for measuring distance or extension, but not the standard of distance or extension” (p. 177).
    Poor asks, “If all value is to be abstracted from money, then of what advantage are the qualities of divisibility and fusibility, in the materials composing it” (p. 177)? These are two of the qualities that Stewart claims make gold useful as money (p. 176). Moreover, Poor continues, “Why not have the denominations which are fitted to express ‘every conceivable variation, of value’ all of the same size and fineness? A bank-note for a thousand dollars has precisely the same size and quality of material as a note for one dollar. The only difference is in their inscriptions” (p. 177).
    Continuing his comment on Stewart’s claim that divisibility and fusibility were qualities that fitted gold and silver for money, Poor writes, “According to Stewart’s theory, the qualities which fit gold and silver for money — divisibility and fusibility — are of the least importance; for pieces of similar size may be made by their inscriptions to express ‘every conceivable variation of value’” (p. 177).
    Stewart claims that a scale of value renders “the ideas of value much more precise and definite than they otherwise would have been” (p. 177). Poor asks, “But how can ideas of relative value be made more precise by comparing them with a scale from which all value is abstracted? How can nothing be made to be the measure of the value of something” (p. 177)? [A great question. As far as I know, no one has satisfactorily explained how something of no value and does not represent something of value can measure value.] Continuing with an example, Poor writes, “A definite idea is conveyed in the statement that a gold dollar measures the value of a bushel of corn; but what idea can be formed of the value of the corn from a statement that its value is that expressed upon a worthless piece of leather or paper” (p. 177)? [With today’s fiat paper money, value is “measured” with worthless pieces of paper. Perhaps trying to measure something with nothing explains, at least in part, the devastating economic crisis looming before the world.]
    Stewart also suggests that “the quantity of money required by a community was in ratio to the rapidity of its circulation” [i.e., the velocity of money or the velocity of circulation] (p. 178). [The concept of the velocity of money is an important component of the quantity theory of money.] To which Poor replies, “This suggestion, which naturally resulted from the assumption that money is not capital, but a scale of valuation, or an aid in enumeration and arithmetic, has become an axiom among all modern Economists” (p. 178). [Today, nearly all economists continue to agree with Stewart on this issue.] Commenting on the event that Stewart used to deduce his conclusion on the rapidity of circulation, Poor writes:
The result of these transactions was, that in the course of seven weeks the garrison had been paid 49,000 florins, the sutlers had sold supplies to the amount of 49,000 florins, and the commandant or government owed them 49,000 florins: so that in the end the latter had converted their supplies into money, and had in hand 7,000 florins, and a debt against the government or commandant for 49,000 florins. From all this Stewart deduces a law, — that the amount of currency required is in ratio to its activity. Suppose the garrison had required a certain amount of forage lying twenty miles off; and that, having but one horse, ten days were required for its transportation. With ten horses, the same work might have been done in a single day. Would Stewart from this fact have attempted to prove that one horse could do the work of ten? We wonder he did not fortify his argument by the following syllogism: ‘ten horses can do so much work in one day; one horse can do the same work in ten days; therefore one horse can do the work of ten horses (p. 179).
    Stewart states “that the quantity of money and notes in circulation must bear but a small proportion to the value of the goods to be bought and sold, and that this proportion must vary according to the quickness with which the money circulates or shifts from one hand to another” (p. 179). To this claim, Poor replies, “If the proportion of money to the goods to be bought and sold be small, then the amount of goods bought and sold will be small. Stewart has only shown that, with a small amount of money, seven weeks were required to effect exchanges which might, with an adequate amount, have been made in one” (p. 179).
    Continuing his comments on the rapidity of the circulation of money, Poor writes:
If money be capital, or the representative of capital, and if when it is exchanged it is exchanged for other kinds of capital, then there can be no greater activity in money than in other kinds of capital; and there can be no relation whatever between its activity and quantity. There would be just as much sense in saying that the quantity of wheat necessary for the consumption of a community was in ratio to the rapidity of its movement: that is, if the rapidity of its motion be made twice as great, one-half the ordinary quantity will suffice. . . . [Stewart] overlooked the fact, that, when money was used as the measure of value or the scale of valuation, the thing, the scale itself, passed from the party using it to the party whose goods had been purchased and measured by it. . . . With Stewart . . . money is an entity, possessed of volition and will, flying about the country eager to do some good deed; an active and lively piece doing twice the work of a dull, phlegmatic one. But money cannot move unless something else moves, no matter how eager it may be for work. Its eagerness must find its complement in some other kind of property; so that if volition, will, and activity be predicated of one, volition, will, and activity must be predicated of the other. Money has no attribute of activity different from that possessed by all other kinds of merchandise. The use of one involves the use of the other; the employment of one involves the employment of the other (pp. 180-181).
    Poor concludes his review of Stewart with this comment:
One of the great evils resulting from the reputation of such a man as Dugald Stewart is, that every word that he uttered, which was recorded by himself or by others, is carefully gathered up and put into his ‘works.’ In the case of Stewart, these are swelled to eleven ponderous volumes, full of propositions of the correctness of not one of which the reader can have the least assurance. Had his ‘literary executor,’ instead of carefully raking up, burned three quarters of all he left, he would have rid the world of a vast mass of rubbish, and the painstaking student of a great deal of the most irksome toil. It may be set down as a maxim, that a person who assumes to write authoritatively upon every subject will write well upon none. Life is not long enough for one man to know every thing, or to construct an universal science (p. 182).

Copyright © 2016 by Thomas Coley Allen.


More money articles.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Judging People by Their Character

Judging People by Their Character
Thomas Allen

    Martin Luther King said,  “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Progressives, liberals, libertarians, neoconservatives, academics, and old media personalities, and most religious leaders, constitutionalists, and conservatives continuously dote over this saying of King.
    Most of these doters (idolaters?) have elevated King to sainthood, and many have defied him. They have even placed King above Jesus. People may blaspheme Jesus with immunity. Blaspheming Jesus even receives support from governments and the old media, and often receives indifference from the new media. However, to tell the truth about King brings condemnation from nearly all spectrums of society — from right to left. Moreover, those who fail to saint King are universally vilified as racists. (Therefore, people are judged not by their character, but whether or not they worship, or at least esteem above all other, King.) Such acceptance of the treatment of King and Jesus proves that King has supplanted Jesus as the central figure of religious and even nonreligious America. King has replaced Jesus as the representation of God on Earth. King’s teachings are esteemed far more than Jesus’. While the government church, public schools, bans Jesus, they indoctrinate King’s dogmas.
    However, these doters never investigate or consider the character of the womanizing King, who left a trail of destruction and blood as he fornicated across the country. They overlook his betrayal of his wife with his adultery. (If a man will betray his most sacred vows, such as his marriage vows, how can he be trusted with less important things?) Also, they do not consider or try to find out what King meant by “content of their character.” As judged by King’s actions, only non-Whites and White Marxists had any content of character worth possessing. If a White is not a Marxist, he has a low quality of character. To King, skin color, i.e., race, and Marxist character appear almost synonymous. Moreover, if Saint King’s character is so sterling, why do federal agencies have to conceal the information that they have collected about him?
    To judge people by their character requires unlimited resources, unlimited time, and an extremely long lifespan. Being finite with highly limited resources and time, people are forced to judge by categorization. Race is perhaps the best categorization to use to judge character, especially when immediate judgment is required. (An example of judging character by race is the Black cab driver who refused to take passengers to Black neighborhoods at night as occurred in the District of Columbia some years ago.) When known, ethnicity, which is a subdivision of race, may be an even better indicator of character than mere race.  (For example, if one knows that he is dealing with a Yankee, he knows, with high probability, that he is dealing with a person of a meddlesome, self-righteous, and generally low character.) Moreover, the Bible endorses the use of ethnicity, and by that race, to judge character. In Titus 1:12, Paul writes, “. . . the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.”
    The following two tables illustrate racial differences in character. Table 1[1] shows more recent studies while Table 2[2] shows earlier studies.


    For most of these characteristics, genetics plays an important role, often the dominated role, in their determination. Of course, exceptions exist. However, they are exceptions because they are not the expected.
    Professor Lynn supports the conclusions in the above tables. He shows that psychopathic personality is, to a significant degree, genetic and varies by race. Blacks have a high psychopathic personality while East Asians have the lowest. Whites are between them. Blacks are less able to sustain consistent work behavior than are Whites and East Asians. Conduct disorder (lying, stealing, truancy, fighting, vandalism, sexual precocity, cruelty, and the like) is about twice as high among Blacks as among Whites. Blacks are much more likely to fail to keep their financial obligations than are Whites. Moreover, Blacks are much more aggressive than Whites or East Asians, and, therefore, commit many more crimes in proportion to their population. East Asians are the least likely to commit crimes. Domestic violence is much higher among Blacks than among Whites. Furthermore, Blacks have much more difficulty forming stable, long-term loving relationships than Whites or East Asians, who are more likely than Whites to form such relationships. Also, Blacks have more sexual partners than do Whites, who have more than East Asians. Blacks are more impulsive than are Whites. Whites are more likely to delay gratification for a greater reward than are Blacks. Moreover, Blacks are more reckless and take greater risks than do Whites or Asians. Blacks are less likely to use contraception than Whites, and, thus, have more unplanned babies and more sexually transmitted disease than Whites and East Asians. Furthermore, Blacks are more likely to abuse and neglect their children than are Whites. Lynn cites numerous studies to support his conclusion.[3]
    Professor Levin shows that Blacks and Whites have a different concept of morality, mostly because of genetics. He defines morality as the rules that people want everyone to follow and that they want everyone to want everyone to follow. He uses honesty as an example. Thus, acts that most Blacks find morally acceptable, such as theft, drug use, and preoccupation with sex, most Whites reject. The opposite is also true: What Whites find morality acceptable, Blacks often reject. Because of genetics, “Black children cannot be expected to respond as white children do to externally imposed white socialization.”  Also, because of genetics, Blacks are more likely to kill with firearms because they lack the genes to restrain them from killing with weapons that they did not invent. Levin gives other examples.[4] Thus, race is a strong indicator of morality and values and, by that, character.
    Nevertheless, other categorizations can be used, but they are not nearly as accurate or precise as race. For example, occupation may be used as a shortcut or a preliminary judgment of a person’s character when one lacks the time and resources to know the person on a personal level. Certain occupations, such as the stereotypical politicians (the more prestigious the office, the lower the character), lawyers, used car salesmen, burglars, old media personalities and their bosses, and establishment hierarchs and their agents, indicate poor character. However, most occupations are useless as indicators of character. Moreover, determining a person’s race at a glance is much easier than determining a person’s occupation.  Likewise, nearly all other categorizations, including socioeconomic status, are inferior to race as an indicator or predictor of character.
    Intelligence offers another judgment of character without intimate knowledge. It is largely inherited and varies with race. The intelligence of Blacks on average is about a standard deviation below that of Whites. The intelligence of East Asians on average is slightly above that of Whites. For better or worse, genetics controls the character of a lower intelligent person more than it does the character of a higher intelligent person because the higher intelligent person is more likely to use his intellect to control his characters for better or worse. That is, highly intelligent people are much more likely to use their intelligence to overcome their genetically influenced good and bad character traits than are low intelligent people. Even so, character is more of a guide for intelligence than intelligence is for character. That is, character directs intelligence more than intelligence directs character. Thus, intelligence is not a good indicator of character. Furthermore, determining a person’s intelligence quickly is often difficult. As intelligence is related to race and as race is easier to determine, race is a better indicator of character, even if it is just used as a surrogate for intelligence.
    Genetics, culture, and environment form character. Intelligence is predominately determined by genetics: Genetics accounts for about 70 percent of a person’s intelligence. Intelligence creates culture and greatly controls or regulates environment. Therefore, genetics is the dominant force behind character. As race results from genetics, race is a good indicator of character.
    Here is the test. If you are walking down a dark street at night and you see a group of Blacks coming toward you and if you look across the street and see a group of Whites, would you cross the street? If so, you are not only judging character based on race, you are also a racist. Be honest: Your life may depend on it.
     People who rely on race to judge character will be accused of being prejudice. However, using race to judge character is not prejudice. T.B. Matson, an integrationist, defines “prejudice” as “a prejudgment, or judgment not based on knowledge or experience. It implies an opinion based on insufficient or irrelevant data.”[5]  This is a good definition. According to this definition, judging character by race is not based on insufficient or irrelevant data. People who judge character based on race are not making a judgment in a vacuum or based on irrelevant or insufficient data. Their judgment is based on statistics, knowledge, observation, and experience.
    Real prejudice is displayed by people who claim that the races are identical, equal, equivalent, or interchangeable, except for a few unimportant surface features such as the type of hair, the shape of the nose, or the color of skin.  They claim that the races do not differ in intelligence, temperament, or character or in any other nonmorphological trait. To support their assertion, they offer no evidence, studies, or facts. Moreover, they offer nothing but violence and coercion to counter and suppress the information, studies, or evidence that show that the races do differ genetically, innately, in intelligence, temperament, character, and other nonmorphological traits. Their resort to force proves that these people have nothing more to support their claim of racial equivalency except their personal biases and prejudices.
    In conclusion, when one lacks the time and resources to learn personally, with a good deal of interaction, the character of an individual, race serves as perhaps the best surrogate available in judging character. Besides, why would one want to waste valuable time and resources to learn personally the character of another only to discover that his character is despicable?

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

More articles on social issues.

Endnotes
1. J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1995), pp. 25, 48-49, 51-52, 58.

2. J. Deniker, The Races of Man: An Outline of Anthropology and Ethnography (London, England: Walter Scott, Limited, 1900), p. 121. Charles Morris, The Aryan Race: Its Origin and Its Achievements (Chicago, Illinois: S. C. Griggs and Company, 1888), pp. 24-27. A. H. Keane, Man Past and Present, revised by A. Hingston Quiggin and A. C. Haddon (Cambridge, 1920), pp. 41, 85, 133, 164, 219, 255, 333, 439.

3. Richard Lynn, “Race and Psychopathic Personality,” A Race Against Time: Racial Heresies for the 21st Century, ed. George McDaniel (Oakton, Virginia: New Century Books, 2002), pp. 204-211.

4. Michael Levin, “The Evolution of Racial Differences in Morality,” A Race Against Time: Racial Heresies for the 21st Century, ed. George McDaniel (Oakton, Virginia: New Century Books, 2002), pp. 266-271.

3.  T.B. Matson, Segregation and Desegregation: A Christian Approach (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1959), pp. 47-48.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Why Silver Fell in the 1870s and Gold Rose in the 1970s

Why Silver Fell in the 1870s and Gold Rose in the 1970s
Thomas Allen

    During the 1960s when the market price of gold began to rise above the official redemption rate of $35 per ounce of gold, economists and others began discussing the likelihood of the dollar no longer being redeemed in gold. When this event occurred, most expected the dollar price of gold to drop because the demand for gold as money would cease. Most expected a decline in the value in gold when redemption ended because of a decrease in demand.
    A similar discussion occurred in the late 1800s as the free coinage of silver ended and most of the world moved to the monometallic gold standard. Most argued that silver declined in value because of the demand for silver as money ceased except in subsidiary coins and its supply continued to rise. However, in 1971 when redemption in gold ceased, gold acted oppositely. Instead of falling in value, gold rose. Why?
    Several explanations have been offered to explain the decline of silver’s value (priced in gold). These explanations are mostly variations of the Quantity Theory of Money.
    Friedman and Schwartz assert that supply of and demand for silver explains its decline, “The reasons for the price decline seem fairly clear: on the supply side, rich new mines were opened in the American West, and there was a world wide increase in productivity; on the demand side, a number of European countries shifted from a silver or bimetallic to a gold standard and sharply reduced their monetary use of silver.”[1]
    The monometallists, advocates of the single gold standard of this era, claim that the increase in the supply of silver caused its fall in value. However, the fall in value began before the world’s silver stock had greatly increased. Moreover, gold production was relatively much greater than that of silver. To which the monometallists reply that the fall resulted from an anticipation of an increase in supply.
    Even today, the supply argument seems weak. In recent years (decades), the increase in the supply of gold has been relatively greater than that of silver. During this time, the demand for silver seems to have been much higher as its usages have been higher. Yet the value of silver generally lags that of gold.
    Laughlin opines that the abundance of gold caused silver to lose value relative to gold.[2] With the discovery of gold in America, enough gold came available to supplant silver coins. People preferred gold to silver because it had more value per unit weight. As the demand for gold grew, so did its value. As the demand for silver fell, so did its value. Moreover, the supply of silver began increasing after 1872. (Laughlin incorporates quality with his explanation: Gold has a higher value, purchasing power, per unit of weight, which contributes to its quality as money.)
    The bimetallists, advocates of the silver-gold system with a legally fixed exchange rate or ratio between the two, claim that “demonetization” caused silver’s fall in value. They point to Germany ending the free coinage of silver in 1871, which glutted the market with silver. This action forced France and the other members of the Latin Union to abandon the silver standard, i.e., to end the free coinage of silver. The United States ended the free coinage of silver in 1873. During the 1870s, other European countries ended their silver standards or bimetallic silver-gold systems and adopted the monometallic gold standard. To the bimetallists, ending the free coinage of silver and by that discontinuing the use of silver as standard money caused its decline in value.
    One result in discarding the silver standard was an increase in demand for gold coins. This increase demand for gold coins would account for some of the decline in the value of silver in terms of gold. Not only were countries replacing the silver standard with the gold standard, they were also replacing fiat paper monetary standards with the gold standards.
    The abandonment of the silver standard around the world reduced the demand for silver. As countries moved onto the gold standard, the demand for gold increased. Thus, the value of silver was pushed down and that of gold was pushed up.
    Although silver ceased to be used as standard money in most countries (China and some Latin American countries being notable exceptions), it was still used in subsidiary coins in most countries and as fiat money in the United States. If merely ending the use of silver as standard money caused its fall in value, why did gold soar in value (in terms of standard fiat currencies) when its last legal connection to money was severed in 1971? Although the Quantity Theory of Money offers a reasonable explanation of silver’s fall in value, it fails to explain gold’s rise in value. Whatever explanation used to explain silver decline in value after 1873 needs to be able to explain golds rise in value after 1971.
    Rist offers this explanation for the decline of silver’s value and the rise of gold’s value when they ceased being standard money. (In the United States, silver ceased being standard money when the free coinage of silver ended in 1873. Gold ceased being standard money when the United States stopped converting the dollar to gold under the gold exchange standard, the Bretton Woods system.) When the free coinage of silver ended, people replaced silver with gold. Gold adequately performed all the basic functions of money. Silver was not needed to perform any of these functions. Therefore, the monetary demand for silver declined. As demand fell, so did its value. When gold redemption ended, people replaced gold with irredeemable paper money. Irredeemable paper money does not perform all the basic functions of money. As it nearly always depreciates, it fails as a store of value. Gold continued to perform a monetary function as a store of value. Therefore, a monetary demand for gold remained after its redemption ended. Thus, when gold replaced silver, it fulfilled all silver’s monetary functions. When irredeemable paper money replaced gold, it failed to fulfill all gold’s monetary functions.[3]
    Thus, the Quality Theory of Money is needed to explain gold’s rise in price in terms of irredeemable paper money. Being low quality money, irredeemable paper money cannot store value over time. Being high quality money, gold stores value over time. Consequently, gold rose in price after its formal use as money ended because people still demanded a form of money that stored value.
    As shown above, the Quantity Theory of Money can explain the fall of silver’s value after 1873, but it fails to explain the rise of gold’s value after 1971. The Quality Theory of Money is needed to explain gold’s rise in value. It can explain both silver’s fall in value and gold’s rise in value.

Endnotes
1.  Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the Untied States, 1867-1960 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 114.

2.  J. Laurence Laughlin, The Elements of Political Economy (New York, New York: American Book Co., 1887), p. 311.

3.  Charles Rist, The Triumph of Gold, trans. Philip Cortney (New York, N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1961, pp. 122-124, 151-153.

Copyright © 2016 by Thomas Coley Allen.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Poor on Hume

Poor on Hume
Thomas Allen

   In 1877, Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905) wrote Money and Its Laws: Embracing a History of Monetary Theories, and a History of the Currency of the United States. He was a financial analyst and founder of a company that evolved into Standard & Poor’s. Poor was a proponent of the real bills doctrine and the classical gold-coin standard and, thus, the quality theory of money. He gave little credence to the quantity theory of money — especially if credit money, such as bank notes, were convertible on demand in species. Also, he contended that the value of money depends on and is derived from the value of the material of which it is made and with paper money, its representation of such value.
    In the latter part of his book, he discusses leading monetary theorists from Aristotle (350 B.C.) to David A. Wells (1875). Most of the economists whom he discussed were proponents of the quantity theory of money. We will look at his discussion on David Hume. My comments are in brackets. Referenced page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Poor’s book.
    David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish historian and philosopher. He influenced two schools of philosophy: skepticism and empiricism. His writings include A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740), Essay Moral and Political (1741-1742), An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), Political Discourses (1749-1752), and History of England (1754-1762).
    According to Poor, Hume was a disciple of Aristotle. However, Aristotle was more truthful and had an earnestness that attracted sympathy. On the other hand, to Hume, “truth was a matter of secondary importance” (p. 89), and Hume’s lack of earnestness repelled sympathy. Also, like Aristotle, Hume “assumed all his premises without consideration or reflection, and disposed, by a single stroke of his pen, of questions, to solve which by any proper method a lifetime might hardly suffice” (p. 89).
    Hume believes that the value of money (gold and silver) is mostly fictitious and that this value is of no consequence. Money is not a subject of commerce; it is only an instrument agreed upon to facilitate trade. Moreover, the quantity of money that a country possesses is immaterial. Only governments receive any advantage from a large supply of money, and then only in regards to wars and negotiations with foreign countries. Hume states, “dearness of every thing, from plenty of money, is a disadvantage which attends an established commerce, and sets bounds to it in every country by enabling the poorer States to undersell the richer in all foreign markets” (p. 90). An increase in money leads to an increase in trade, which results in a shortage of labor. Moreover, Hume doubts the benefit of banks and paper credit. He states:
But there appears to be no reason for increasing that inconvenience by a counterfeit money which foreigners will not accept of in any payment, and which any great disorder in the State will reduce to nothing. . . . And in this view it must be allowed that no Bank could be more advantageous than such a one as locked up all the money it received (as was the case with the Bank of Amsterdam), and never augmented the circulating coin, as is usual, by returning a part of its treasure into commerce. A public Bank by this expedient might cut off much of the dealings of private bankers and money-jobbers; and though the State bore the charge of their salaries to directors and tellers of this Bank (for according to the preceding supposition it would have no profit from its dealings), the national advantage resulting from the lower price of labor and the destruction of paper credit would be a sufficient compensation (p. 90).
    Hume remarks, “money is nothing but the representation of labor and commodities, and serves only as a method of rating or estimating them” (p. 90). Furthermore, he contends that greater quantity of money is an inconvenience because the greater quantity requires more trouble to keep and transport it. Greater quantities of money lead to higher prices and wages (p. 91).
    According to Poor, “Hume followed Law where the latter was wrong, and rejected him wherever he was right” (p. 91). About the value of money, Poor summarizes Hume’s notion: “The value of money . . . is fictitious; its greater or less quantity, therefore, is of no consequence; nothing is to be gained by increasing the dimensions of a fiction; it is not valuable to a country in its commerce, for it is not the subject of commerce, only the oil which lubricates its wheels” (p. 91).
    Poor refutes Hume’s idea that money is a fiction with a question: “Is not that a subject of commerce, the possession of which is the great object of commerce, and in which all the profits or balances arising in commerce are payable” (p. 91)? People who pay and receive money do not act as though it is a fiction. Moreover, if money is a fiction in one country, why would it not be a fiction in another country or even all countries? Why would a large quantity of this fiction give one country an advantage over another country with which it wars? How can a thing considered pure fiction in one country be a solid reality in another? Then Poor asks, “Is not that valuable which every people seek to obtain by exchanging therefor whatever they possess; and which will always, at its cost, command all other kinds of property” (p. 91)? [This notion that money is a fiction shows up in the arguments of many proponents of fiat paper money and its electronic equivalent. The government can decree whatever it wants to be money as money. Moreover, it can decree the value of the monetary unit and can maintain this value by following some magic formula or scheme.]
    According to Hume, “In all respects, except in wars and negotiations, the abundance of money . . . may be, and often is, a disadvantage, as prices are raised thereby in ratio to its abundance. In this way, poor countries having no money are enabled to undersell the rich having a great deal of money, and drive them out of their accustomed markets” (p. 91). [Wars often lead to an overabundance of credit money, that is, inflation. This inflation often leads to a rise in general prices during and after the war.] Poor declares, “The exact reverse of all this is the truth” (p. 91). He continues, “Prices are either low in ratio to the abundance of money, or, what is the same thing, the amount which a people are able to consume is in ratio to such abundance” (pp. 91-92). He illustrates his assertion with examples of poor countries lacking money to import goods because they lack money to transport what they do have to trade. Thus, the price of imported goods is inverse to the amount of money available (p. 92).
    About paper money, Poor writes, “So with a symbolic currency, — with paper money. This is the representative of capital. If one be abundant the other must be; and, if abundant, prices must be low, for prices are high or low in ratio to the abundance or want of the articles to which they relate. Whatever the form of money or currency, therefore, the greater the abundance the lower are prices” (p. 92). [Poor is correct if the money comes into existence via production. However, if the money comes into existence by governmental fiat, spoils of war, or thief, the results is usually higher prices. These higher prices may show up in financial assets like bonds and stocks or they may appear in commodities and consumer goods.]
    He continues, “Paper credits — that is currencies — issued by Banks are one of the most important conditions of low prices, as they serve as the cheapest possible means of distribution” (p. 91). [Here, Poor is referring to the real bills doctrine. Bills of exchange are a form of credit money, commercial money, created by the manufacturer or wholesaler and the retailer. When a bank discounts a bill, it converts it to bank credit money, bank notes or checkable deposits. The bank has not really added to the money supply. It has merely converted one form of credit money, commercial money, to another and more usable form of credit money, bank credit money. This is the type of credit money to which Poor refers. However, when a bank buys a financial bill, like a treasury bill, with bank credit money it expands the money supply because financial bills do not come into being as a result of production. Poor opposes creating bank credit money to buy financial bills.]
    Poor comments on Hume’s claim that a compensation “for the inconvenience of too great an abundance of coin [is] that it can be used in foreign wars, but Bank paper can never be used out of the country in which it is issued” (p. 92). Poor notes that the costs of articles used in a war far exceed the coin available. [At the time Hume and Poor wrote, most countries used gold or silver coin for money.] Poor asks, “If they [articles of war] can be had by means of paper money, equally with coin, does not the former possess for the government the same value as coin” (p. 92)? He continues: “Hume would have all Banks . . . collect every thing into their vaults, and let nothing out! But how, in such case, are exchanges to be effected? There must be either coin or symbols, or all commerce must speedily come to a dead stand. In such event, a people, in the course of a few months, would be reduced to the very brink of ruin” (p. 92).
    Continuing on Hume’s opinion about gold and silver as money, Poor writes, “With Hume, gold and silver derive their importance to a nation solely from their use in its wars and negotiations. Considered by itself, their abundance is of no consequence whatever” (p. 93).
    Poor identifies an inconsistency or contradiction in Hume’s assertion about money: “Hume asserts the value of money to be imaginary, and at the same time that a great abundance of it is injurious by raising the price of commodities” (p. 93). [If the value of money is imaginary, then its quantity should be irrelevant. If its abundance raises price, then it must have some value so that it can raise prices — at least until hyperinflation destroys all its value.]
    About value, Poor notes:
But what constitutes the value of any article? The amount of demand that exists for it. There can be no other test or measure.  We can form no idea of the value of any article but by comparing it with that of some other. If it have no exchangeable value, it has no value. It may have uses, without having values.  . . . An imaginary value, therefore, is no value; so that the very foundation upon which Hume erected his argument has no existence whatever. Only that which possesses value can affect the value of other things. If money had no value, its greater or less abundance could exert no influence whatever on the value or price of other articles (p. 93).
[Poor does acknowledge that things, such as air, are important and even necessary for life, but they have no value in the proper economic sense of the term.]
    About Hume’s pontification on money, Poor remarks that “a little thought and reflection would have shown” (p. 93) him that he was wrong. “[B]ut this way was not Home’s way. Reflection and analysis are laborious and painful processes, to which he was by no means inclined. To truth he was wholly indifferent. His object was effect, provided that could be produced by very little labor and pains” (p. 93).
    Hume was also a proponent of coin debasement. He believed that if all silver coins were recoined to contain less silver but maintain the same denomination, prices would not increase. Moreover, foreign trade would be invigorated. Because of more coins circulating, domestic industry would also increase (p. 94). [Many advocates of fiat paper money believe that debasement of money enlivens the economy and is, therefore, good.]
    In effect, Hume claims that money can be debased, yet “at the same time maintain its value” (p. 94). Moreover, he claimed that while maintaining its value,  it would “derive an advantage from its debasement in diminishing prices” (p. 94). Thus, “[i]n the same sentence, the value of money was to be both maintained and reduced” (p. 94). Poor continues,
From diminished prices at home, foreign trade was to be enlivened, and domestic trade receive some increase and encouragement from the greater number of pounds and shillings in circulation. But how could more pounds and shillings be in circulation, if the debased coins would purchase as much as those of full weight and value? (p. 94)
[Historically, the purchasing power of debased coin fell to equal the purchasing power of its metal content — thus causing prices to rise in nominal terms, but not in metallic terms. Even draconian laws could not prevent the fall in value of the debased coin.]
    Commenting on Hume, Poor writes:
With Hume, from the perversity or credulity of human nature, a falsehood plausibly told, and well stuck to, would have all the potency of truth. . . . He contrived by artful fabrications to falsify the whole course of English history, and to make the world believe, almost for a century, that slavery, not freedom, was the birthright of Englishmen (p. 94).
    Hume maintains that if the quantity of money remains unchanged, then, over time, everything becomes cheaper. “[T]he proportion between the circulating money and the commodities in the market . . . determines the prices” (p. 95). Poor replies, “The degree of wealth of a people depends upon their means of distribution. The one must always be in ratio to the other. Their money must increase as their industries increase, by a law as inexorable as that of gravity” (p. 95).
    About Hume’s “plan for benefitting the public by reducing prices, by reducing the amount of money” (p. 95), Poor retorts that his plan “is equivalent to taking off one-half of the cars from a railroad, where the whole had only sufficed for its operations” (p. 95). Poor continues:
Such a process would reduce greatly the price or value of merchandise to the producer. It would, at the same time, add very largely to the price paid by the consumer. Both would be equally injured by the restricted capacity of the instrument of distribution. The former would receive much less; the latter would pay much more. So with money. With its decrease, production would decrease in far greater ratio. With such decrease, cost of production would increase (p. 95).
[Poor is thinking of the real bills doctrine where money supply matches production. The quantity of money grows as production grows and contracts and production contracts.]
    Hume claims, “These institutions of Banks and Paper Credits render paper the equivalent of money” (p. 95). To which, Poor responds:
It is the capital such paper represents that makes it the equivalent of money. By representing capital, and serving in the place of coin as the means of its distribution, it reduces instead of “raising proportionably the price of labor and commodities.” His assumption consequently is exactly opposed to the fact (pp. 96-97).
    Poor notes, “With Hume, money was not capital at home while it was capital abroad” (p. 97). To the contrary, “[i]t is the highest form of capital at home, for that reason it is the highest form of capital abroad” (p. 97).
    Poor writes:
With Hume, the evil of paper money is, that it displaces a corresponding amount of coin, — sinks it below its level, compared with other countries. . . . Its paper currency, by assisting in the exchanges, may have secured to it a larger amount of coin than it would have had without such currency. His assumption, therefore, that the notes in circulation replaced a corresponding amount of coin is wholly gratuitous (p. 97).
    Poor adds,
It is from this assumption, however, that Economists have drawn their celebrated dogma or axiom that the proper measure of issue of paper money is the amount of gold that would have been in circulation but for such issue; overlooking the fact that paper money is not based upon coin so much as upon merchandise; and that the amount of the coin of a nation is to be measured not by that which it possesses, but by that which it can command (p. 97).
[Here, Poor is referring to the real bills doctrine. Bank notes come into circulation by converting bills of exchange, commercial money, into bank credit money, bank notes and checkable deposits. Bills of exchange arise out of production. Therefore, the quantity of bank notes in circulation depends on production and not on the quantity of gold. The greater a country’s production, the more gold it can command.]
    In his concluding remarks on Hume, Poor writes:
Hume was one of the earliest writers to refer to the subject of currency to be issued by Banks. An opportunity was thus opened to him, had he chosen, by unfolding its nature and laws, of performing a substantial service for mankind. He preferred to talk rather than to investigate, — to appear wise and learned rather than to be so. . . . As the reputation enjoyed by Aristotle forbade all investigation of the truth of his dogmas, and secured for them immunity through the ages, so Hume impressed himself so strongly upon the opinions of mankind as to be received, for nearly a century, as authority upon most of the subjects upon which he wrote, although his works were full of errors and falsifications. He is still constantly quoted, with approbation, upon the knotty points of monetary science; although, as far as any knowledge of the subject was concerned, a Kaffir might as well be quoted for an authoritative opinion upon the Code of Menu (p. 98).

Copyright © 2016 by Thomas Coley Allen.

More articles on money.

Monday, June 19, 2017

For Whom Is the Constitution Written?

For Whom Is the Constitution Written?
Thomas Allen

    For whom is the Constitution for the United States of America written? The answer is easy. The preamble clearly states for whom the Constitution is written. The preamble reads:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    “We the People of the United States . . . to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Who are “ourselves” and “our posterity?” They are the people who wrote and adopted the Constitution and their descendants. That is, they are Aryans, Whites. As Aryans wrote and adopted the Constitution, it is solely for Aryans. As almost all Aryans then abided by the Biblical prohibition against interracial mating, they expected their posterity to be Aryan. (If any Aryan sinned and had a child by a person of another race, that child was not considered an Aryan.)
    Therefore, the Constitution is not written for Negroes. It is not written for Melanochroi from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, etc. Moreover, it is not written for Turanians from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, etc. Nor is it written for the Turanian Indians and mestizos from Latin American. Likewise, it is not written for Indo-Australians and Khoisans.
     Supporting the notion that the Constitution is written for Aryans is the first naturalization law, which was enacted in 1790. It restricted naturalization to free Whites. It excluded Blacks, American Indians, Muslims, and later Asians. Furthermore, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and other founding fathers declared that the United States was and should be a White man’s country. By the way, nearly every President, if not every President, held this sentiment until John Kennedy.
    In conclusion, Aryans wrote and adopted the Constitution for the United  States of America for Aryans. They did not write it for Negroes, Melanochroi, Turanians, Indo-Australians, or Khoisans. Until Whites in the United States realize and admit that the Constitution is written solely for them and for no other race, species of humans, the social, political, and economic problems affecting the United States will not be solved. Until ministers start teaching the Biblical prohibition against interracial mating, these problems will not be solved. Moreover, constitutionalists need to acknowledge that the Constitution is solely for Aryans and need to proclaim such. A necessary part of solving the social, political, and economic problems of the United States is returning to the Constitution in its original intent. Admitting that the Constitution is only for Aryans, Whites, is a necessary and essential part of this return. A return to Constitutional government cannot be made without this acknowledgment.
    The biggest hindrances to returning to Constitutional government are Christian ministers and constitutionalists. Because of political correctness, ignorance of the Bible, or fear of being called a “racist,” ministers fail to teach that the Scriptures prohibit miscegenation and interracial mating, that Adam was an Aryan, White, and only Aryans are created in the image of God, and that God is a segregationist and a racial separationist. (God confusing the languages of man as a result of constructing the Tower of Babel is perhaps the greatest act of segregation and racial separation every experienced by mankind in recorded history.) Likewise, because of political correctness, ignorance of the Constitution, or fear of being called a “racist,” constitutionalists fail to identify the people for whom the Constitution is written and to teach that it is written solely for Whites.
    Before ministers and constitutionalists can return to the proper understanding of the Bible and the Constitution, they need to abandon the Deity of King. They need to cease the idolatry of bowing before his idol. To do this, they need to realize, acknowledge, and teach that Martin Luther King was a rabble-rouser, a scoundrel, a front man for the Communist Party, and a leader of one of the most destructive movements that the United States have ever endured, the civil rights movement. (As a result of the civil rights movement, the immigration laws were changed to discriminate against Whites and to flood the country with non-Whites such that in a few years, Whites will be a minority in their own country. It also brought the war on poverty, racial and sexual quotas, affirmative action, effeminized and emasculated men, degraded women, homosexual marriages, legalized abortion, growth in out-of-wedlock children, genocide via interracial mating, etc.)

Appendix 1.
    Most people incorrectly refer to the Constitution for the United States of America as the Constitution of the United States of America. According to the preamble, the correct title is the “Constitution for the United States of America.”

Appendix 2.

    Most people refer to the United States in the singular: the United States is. However, the Constitution refers to the United States in the plural: the United States are. For example, Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1 reads, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The plural pronouns, “their” and “them” are used to refer to the United States.
    Some historians argue that Lincoln’s War to Suppress Southern Independence was fought over a verb. Lincoln and his supporters fought for “is” while the Southern States fought for “are.” Before the War, most people referred to the United States in the plural: they, them, their, are, etc. After the War, most people referred to the United States in the singular: it, its, is, etc.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

More articles on politics.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Discounting Accommodation Bills

Discounting Accommodation Bills
Thomas Allen

    Some proponents of the real bills doctrine and many opponents of the real bills doctrine present accommodation bills as legitimate bills for discounting. Some do so out of ignorance. Others do so to disparage the real bills doctrine.
    An accommodation bill is essentially a promissory note where the borrower secures accommodation from a bank on his own note, single name paper, or on an endorsed note of his customer, double name paper. Whereas real bills of exchange represent past transactions, accommodation bills represent future transactions. With a real bill of exchange, goods are in the process of being purchased or have been purchased. With an accommodation bill, the goods are not in the process of being purchased; they are to be purchased in the future.
    A real bill of exchange provides for its own payment; it is self-liquidating. When the retailer sells the merchandise represented by the bill of exchange, the retailer receives the gold necessary to pay the bill. Thus, a real bill of exchange is self-liquidating.
    An accommodation bill is not self-liquidating. As it represents goods not yet produced, whatever the accommodation bill represents does not provide the gold necessary to pay it.
    Discounting accommodation bills leads to inflation, i.e., more bank credit money (bank notes and checkbook money) enters the community than new goods. This inflation is eventually followed by an economic contraction.
    Discounting a real bill of exchange leads to a smooth operating economy. Credit money represents goods in the process of being sold, i.e., the goods represented by the bill of exchange, and provides the money to purchase the new merchandise. It also provides the funds to pay workers before the goods are sold without resorting to borrowing. As this credit money is removed when the merchandise is sold, it does not lead to inflation or economic contraction.
    The following example illustrates the difference between discounting a bill of exchange and an accommodation bill. New products of a community are being produced and consumed at the rate of £100,000,000. The value of these products is represented by bank notes and checkbook money via the discounting of bills of exchange. As far as currency is concerned, business would remain in a normal healthy condition.
    To this example, let’s add the assumption that banks want to maintain a 20 percent reserve in gold coins. That is, bank reserves equal £20,000,000. Furthermore, let’s assume that some smooth-talking pettifoggers convince bankers to discount their accommodation bills equal to £10,000,000. Now the community has £110,000,000 of credit money with which to buy £100,000,000 of goods. We also assume no lost in confidence.
    The result is inflation and a rise in prices. As the community was producing only £100,000,000 in products, much of the new demand will be met by increasing imports to absorb the additional £10,000,000. Gold would be used to pay for the imports as the foreign sellers have no need of the community’s credit money. The remainder of new demand would cause additional unsustainable domestic production.
    Having consumed the money for the accommodation bills, the drafters, the pettifoggers, would have nothing with which to pay the bills when they mature. Thus, the holders of the bank credit money created by the accommodation bills become creditors of the banks of the amount of £10,000,000 when the bills mature. Thus, the outstanding credit money would be presented to the banks for gold.
    If the banks had maintained their 20 percent reserve ratio, they would have £22,000,000 in gold backing their outstanding credit money issued to buy bills of exchanges and accommodation bills. If the excess credit money created by discounting the accommodation bills were redeemed, bank reserves would fall to £12,000,000. Thus, banks have to reduce new discounting to £60,000,000 to maintain a 20-percent ratio. Instead of being able to discount £100,000,000 in bills of exchange as the community requires, they could only discount £60,000,000.
    As a result of discounting accommodation bills, the quantity of credit money drops from £110,000,000 to £60,000,000. Economic stagnation quickly follows and bank runs become highly likely. As the banks lack the means, gold, to pay all their outstanding notes and checking account moneys, bankruptcy and suspension of payment results — all from discounting non-self-liquidating bills.
    As the above overly simplified example shows, banks should only discount self-liquidating bills, real bills of exchange, with bank credit money. Otherwise, economic disaster can, and often does, occurs.

Copyright © 2015, 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Poor on Law

Poor on Law
Thomas Allen

    In 1877, Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905) wrote Money and Its Laws: Embracing a History of Monetary Theories, and a History of the Currency of the United States. He was a financial analyst and founder of a company that evolved into Standard & Poor’s. Poor was a proponent of the real bills doctrine and the classical gold-coin standard and, thus, the quality theory of money. He gave little credence to the quantity theory of money — especially if credit money, such as bank notes, were convertible on demand in species. Also, he contended that the value of money depends on and is derived from the value of the material of which it is made and with paper money, its representation of such value.
    In the latter part of his book, he discusses leading monetary theorists from Aristotle (350 B.C.) to David A. Wells (1875). Most of the economists whom he discussed were proponents of the quantity theory of money. We will look at his discussion on John Law. My comments are in brackets. Referenced page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Poor’s book.
    John Law (1671-1729) was a Scottish financier and gambler. He attempted to revive France by opening a bank to issue paper money. In 1716, he opened his bank, which became the Royal Bank with Law as its director. Reckless lending by his bank led to the financial panic of 1720. Poor reviews Law’s Money and Trade Considered (1705).
    Law argues “that articles of property, other than silver . . . might be made into money, or might be made the basis for the issue of paper money in place of one of silver” (pp. 81-82). [At the time that Law wrote, silver was the primary species in circulation.] According to Law, using items other than silver as money or as the basis for paper money should greatly benefit the public.
    Law declares, “The value of silver as money is its value in barter” (p. 82). He continues:
The additional value silver received from being used as money was because of its qualities which fitted it for that use, and that value was according to the additional demand its use as money occasioned. . . . Money is not a pledge, as some call it; it is a value paid, or contracted to be paid, with which it is supposed the receiver may, as his occasions require, buy an equal quantity of the same goods he has sold, or other goods equal in value to them; and that money is the most secure value either to receive, to contract for, or to value goods by, which is least liable to change in its value. . . . Thus silver having a value and qualities fitting it for money, which other goods had not, was made money, and, for the greater use of the people, was coined (pp. 82-83).
    Poor agrees that “Law was entirely right in assuming that the value of silver was its value in barter” (p. 83). However, Law “was mistaken . . . in asserting that it derives a value from its use as money, unless by its use as money he meant its use as reserves” (p. 83). [Most people who believe that money has value because of the material of which it is made believe that its use as money adds to that material’s value, whether such money is used as reserves or as a circulating purchasing medium.] Poor adds, “It is not their [gold and silver] use as a medium of exchange that constitutes their value: it is their value in the arts and their capacity to serve as reserves that give them their value in exchange” (p. 83). [In Dawn of Gold: The Real Story of Money, Philip Barton argues that gold originally received much of its value as money from its use in religion. William Carlile argues in The Evolution of Modern Money that gold evolved into money from its use as ornamentation as an expression of status.]
    Law argues:
Silver money is more uncertain in its value than other goods, so less qualified to serve as money. . . . Silver in bullion or money changes its value from any change in its quantity, or in the demand for it. . . . [S]ilver or money is dearer or cheaper, being more or less valuable, and equal to a greater or lesser quantity of goods. . . . More durable goods, as metals, materials for shipping, &c., increase in quantity beyond the demand for them, so are less valuable (pp. 83-84).
    Poor comments that Law’s assumption “are exactly opposed to the fact. The value of silver is uniform from the uniformity of its production and of the demand for it. Should there be some excess in production for one or more years, such excess would be taken up at previous prices to be held as reserves (so long as silver is legalized as money)” (p. 84). Poor continues, “Unlike other merchandise, the market for silver is the world. Until the markets of the world are glutted, it cannot fall materially in value from increase of production.” (p. 84). [As long as a country is on the silver standard, the “price” of silver will not change because the monetary unit is defined as a specific weight of silver. When the United States were on a de facto silver standard under its bimetallic system, one dollar would always buy 371.25 grains of silver because the dollar was defined as 371.25 grains of silver. That is, the “price” of 371.25 grains of silver was always one dollar, which was 371.25 grains of silver. {The price of 371.25 grains of silver was not fixed at one dollar, the dependent variable. The dollar was fixed at 371.25 grains of silver, the independent variable.} Moreover, Benjamin Anderson argues in The Value of Money that the supply of money and the demand for money does not determine its value. He argues that the “value of money is a quality of money, that quality which money shares with other forms of wealth, which lies behind, and causally explains, the exchange relations into which money enters.”[1] “Value {of money} is prior to exchange. Value is not to be denned as ‘power in exchange.’”[2] According to Anderson, the social value theory best explains the value of money: “the social value theory is the only way of giving a psychological explanation to the demand-curve, and a marginal value explanation of marginal demand-price.”[3]  Thus, the value of money derives from the value of the commodity of which it is made and from its services as money. The value of the commodity as money combines with the value of the commodity in its nonmonetary use. Like all other commodities, and everything else, the value of the monetary metal and of its use as money is psychological. Anderson concludes, “The physical weight in gold, which itself is an object of social value, is commonly the immediate basis of the value of the dollar to-day, but money may get its primary value from other sources than valuable bullion. Given this primary value, the dollar may get an enhancement in that value from the services which it performs in the social technology of adjustment.”[4].]
    Poor remarks:
Although at the outset some of Law's propositions in reference to money were eminently sound, he was compelled to sacrifice them so soon as he began to unfold his scheme. Those who came after him were incapable of appreciating him where he was right, but were certain to follow him wherever he was wrong. . . . Economists have borrowed greatly from Law, from whom, from the disgrace attached to his name, they could copy without reference and with impunity. They constructed, in great measure, from the ruins he left behind, their grotesque and absurd edifices (pp. 84-85).
    Law proposes to substitute paper money based on land instead of silver. Unlike silver, Law believes that his land-based paper money would not fall in value. Land is more likely to maintain its value than any other goods because it does not increase in quantity. [Law’s notion that land maintains its value is wrong. The value of land can vary greatly, even over a few years. In 1991, the aggregate value of all the land in Japan was almost four times that of the United States. By 2005, land in Japan had lost half its value while land in the United States had more than tripled in value.]
    Poor remarks that no one would borrow or accept Law’s land notes unless they could use them “to obtain coin, or merchandise, the equivalent of coin, — capital that could be used in their industries” (p. 86). Holders of these land notes could not convert them to the land backing them. Whether well secured or not, Law’s land notes “could never get into circulation” (p. 86). To avoid this difficulty, Law declared, “Money is not the value for which goods are exchanged, but the value by which they are exchanged. The use of money is to buy goods; and silver, while money, is of no other use” (p. 86).
    Poor is convinced that Law doubts that people would willingly receive his land money for other articles. Poor remarks, “As he [Law] could not give up his scheme, his principles had to give way to his necessities, and he was forced to assert the exact opposite to that which he had affirmed, and the truth of which he had conclusively demonstrated” (p. 86). Thus, Law declares that money “was not the value for which goods were exchanged, but the value by which they were exchanged” (p. 86). Poor continues, to Law money “was the yardstick by which goods were measured off, — a contrivance to assist in numeration, — a tally or counter to register the delivery of certain quantities or values of merchandise; in other words, value was not a necessary attribute of money” (p. 86). [This notion that money is merely a counter and that value is not a necessary attribute of money is held by most of the writers whom Poor reviews and by today’s fiat money proponents.]
    Law identifies several criteria that make land superior to silver as money. One is that land produces everything, including silver. Thus, silver is just a product. Another is that, unlike silver, land does not increase or decrease in quantity and is, therefore, more certain in its value. Also, unlike silver, land can be improved and, by that, increase the demand for it. Land cannot lose any of its uses whereas silver can. When land is used as money, it does not lose any of its other uses; however, silver used as money cannot simultaneously be used for other purposes. [See “Land-Backed Currency” by Thomas Allen, which explains the inferiority of land as the basis for money.] Poor replies, “A mortgage on real property may possess a high value, and yet bare no other attributes fitting it to serve as money” (p. 87).
    Law also knew that his land money would not be accepted abroad. Therefore, he asserts “that it was not necessary that it ever should pass abroad; that the domestic trade of a nation was alone to be considered” (p. 88).
    About Law, Poor writes:
He took the short cut of throwing his principles overboard without the least compunction, whenever they came into conflict with his purposes. He was a man of action, who never stopped to explain, but pushed right forward to the object he had in view. For him to doubt and inquire would be to give up the contest altogether. His life was a mission to promote, in the first place, the welfare of his own country, by supplying it with money — capital; and every consideration was subordinate to this grand idea (p. 88).

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

More articles on money.

Endnotes
1. B.M. Anderson, The Value of Money (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1917), pp. 8-9).

2. Ibid., p. 9.

3. Ibid., p. 42.

4. Ibid., p. 591.