How Money Disappears In A Fractional-Reserve Money System. By Frank Shostak
In this article from mises.org titled How Money Disappears In A Fractional-Reserve Money System, Frank Shostak does his usual brilliant job in explaining complex concepts. He covers the difference between real savings vs. savings created out of thin air via the electronic printing press, and how Fractional-Reserve banking increases the money supply. Here are some excerpts.
“Most experts are of the view that the massive monetary pumping by the US central bank during the 2008 financial crisis saved the US and the world from another Great Depression. On this the Federal Reserve Chairman at the time Ben Bernanke is considered the man that saved the world. Bernanke in turn attributes his actions to the writings of Professor Milton Friedman who blamed the Federal Reserve for causing the Great Depression of 1930s by allowing the money supply to plunge by over 30 percent.”
“Careful analysis will however show that it is not a collapse in the money stock that sets in motion an economic slump as such, but rather the prior monetary pumping that undermines the pool of real funding that leads to an economic depression.”
Improving The Economy Requires Time And Savings
“Essentially, the pool of real funding is the quantity of consumer goods available in an economy to support future production. In the simplest of terms: a lone man on an island is able to pick twenty-five apples an hour. With the aid of a picking tool, he is able to raise his output to fifty apples an hour. Making the tool, (adding a stage of production) however, takes time.”
“During the time he is busy making the tool, the man will not be able to pick any apples. In order to have the tool, therefore, the man must first have enough apples to sustain himself while he is busy making it. His pool of funding is his means of sustenance for this period—the quantity of apples he has saved for this purpose.”
“The size of this pool determines whether or not a more sophisticated means of production can be introduced. If it requires one year of work for the man to build this tool, but he has only enough apples saved to sustain him for one month, then the tool will not be built—and the man will not be able to increase his productivity.”
“The island scenario is complicated by the introduction of multiple individuals who trade with each other and use money. The essence, however, remains the same: the size of the pool of funding sets a brake on the implementation of more productive stages of production.”
When Banks Create the Illusion of More Wealth
“Trouble erupts whenever the banking system makes it appear that the pool of real funding is larger than it is in reality. When a central bank expands the money stock, it does not enlarge the pool of funding. It gives rise to the consumption of goods, which is not preceded by production. It leads to less means of sustenance.”
(Read this article; Real Savings = True Credit. Printed Savings = False Credit, to get more analysis from Frank Shostak concerning real vs. printed savings.)
“The existence of the central bank and fractional reserve banking permits commercial banks to generate credit, which is not backed up by real funding (i.e., it is credit created out of “thin air”).”
“Once the unbacked credit is generated it creates activities that the free market would never approve. That is, these activities are consuming and not producing real wealth.”
“It is those non-wealth generating activities that end up having the most difficulties in serving their debt since these activities were never generating any real wealth and were really supported or funded, so to speak, by genuine wealth generators. (Money out of “thin air” sets in motion an exchange of nothing for something — the transferring of real wealth from wealth generators to various false activities.) With the fall in money out of thin air their support is cut-off.”
“Contrary to the popular view then, a fall in the money supply (i.e., money out of “thin air”), is precisely what is needed to set in motion the build-up of real wealth and a revitalizing of the economy.”
“Printing money only inflicts more damage and therefore should never be considered as a means to help the economy. Also, even if the central bank were to be successful in preventing a fall in the money supply, this would not be able to prevent an economic slump if the pool of real funding is falling.”
Related Article – Interest Rates Set By The Market vs. Interest Rates Set By The Federal Reserve, at austrianaddict.com.
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