The Mystery of Banking – Murray N. Rothbard

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Preface by Douglas E. French

Foreword by Joseph T. Salerno

I. Money: Its Importance and Origins

  1. The Importance of Money
  2. How Money Begins
  3. The Proper Qualities of Money
  4. The Money Unit

II. What Determines Prices: Supply and Demand

III. Money and Overall Prices

  1. The Supply and Demand for Money and Overall Prices
  2. Why Overall Prices Change

IV. The Supply of Money

  1. What Should the Supply of Money Be?
  2. The Supply of Gold and the Counterfeiting Process
  3. Government Paper Money
  4. The Origins of Government Paper Money

V. The Demand for Money

  1. The Supply of Goods and Services
  2. Frequency of Payment
  3. Clearing Systems
  4. Confidence in the Money
  5. Inflationary or Deflationary Expectations

VI. Loan Banking

VII. Deposit Banking

  1. Warehouse Receipts
  2. Deposit Banking and Embezzlement
  3. Fractional Reserve Banking
  4. Bank Notes and Deposits

VIII. Free Banking and the Limits on Bank Credit Inflation

IX. Central Banking: Removing the Limits

X. Central Banking: Determining Total Reserves

  1. The Demand for Cash
  2. The Demand for Gold
  3. Loans to the Banks
  4. Open Market Operations

XI. Central Banking: The Process of Bank Credit Expansion

  1. Expansion from Bank to Bank
  2. The Central Bank and the Treasury

XII. The Origins of Central Banking

  1. The Bank of England
  2. Free Banking in Scotland
  3. The Peelite Crackdown, 1844–1845

XIII. Central Banking in the United States I: The Origins

  1. The Bank of North America and the First Bank of the United States
  2. The Second Bank of the United States

XIV. Central Banking in the United States II: The 1820s to the Civil War

  1. The Jacksonian Movement and the Bank War
  2. Decentralized Banking from the 1830s to the Civil War

XV. Central Banking in the United States III: The National Banking System

  1. The Civil War and the National Banking System
  2. The National Banking Era and the Origins of the Federal Reserve System

XVI. Central Banking in the United States IV: The Federal Reserve System

  1. The Inflationary Structure of the Fed
  2. The Inflationary Policies of the Fed

XVII. Conclusion: The Present Banking Situation and What to Do About It

  1. The Road to the Present
  2. The Present Money Supply
  3. How to Return to Sound Money

Appendix: The Myth of Free Banking in Scotland




From the foreword by JOSEPH T. SALERNO

“Long out of print, The Mystery of Banking is perhaps the least appreciated work among Murray Rothbard’s prodigious body of output. This is a shame because it is a model of how to apply sound economic theory, dispassionately and objectively, to the origins and development of real-world institutions and to assess their consequences. It is “institutional economics” at its best. In this book, the institution under scrutiny is central banking as historically embodied in the Federal Reserve System—the “Fed” for short—the central bank of the United States.


Rothbard’s presentation of the basic principles of money-and banking theory in the first eleven chapters of the book guides the reader in unraveling the mystery of how the central bank operates to create money through the fractional-reserve banking system and how this leads to inflation of the money supply and a rise in overall prices in the economy. But he does not stop there. In the subsequent five chapters he resolves the historical mystery of how an inherently inflationary institution like central banking, which is destructive of the value of money and, in the extreme case of hyperinflation, of money itself, came into being and was accepted as essential to the operation of the market economy.

As in the case of his exposition of the theory, Rothbard’s treatment of the history of the Fed is fundamentally at odds with that found in standard textbooks. In the latter, the history is shallow and episodic. It is taken for granted that the Fed, like all central banks, was originally designed as an institution whose goal was to promote the public interest by operating as a “lender of last resort,” providing “liquidity” to troubled banks during times of financial turbulence to prevent a collapse of the financial system. Later the Fed was given a second mandate, to maintain “stability of the price level,” a policy which was supposed to rid the economy of business cycles and therefore to preclude prolonged periods of recession and unemployment. Thus strewn throughout a typical textbook one will find accounts of how the Fed handled—usually, although not always, in an enlightened manner— various “shocks” to the monetary and financial system. Culpability for such shocks is almost invariably attributed to the unruly propensities or irrational expectations of business investors, consumers, or wage-earners. Even in the exceptional instances, such as the Great Depression, when inept Fed policy is blamed for making matters worse, the Fed’s errors are ascribed to not yet having learned how to properly wield the “tools of monetary policy,” the euphemism used to describe the various techniques the Fed uses in exercising its legal monopoly of counterfeiting money. Each new crisis, however, stimulates the public-spirited policymakers at the Fed by a trial-and-error process to eventually converge on the optimal monetary policy, which was supposedly hit upon in the heyday of the Greenspan Fed during 1990`s.”

Informații suplimentare


Economie, Educație, Istorie, Piața liberă



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