quinta-feira, fevereiro 18, 2010

# 24

«The kings had long since granted to themselves the monopoly of minting coins in their kingdoms, calling such a monopoly crucial to their “sovereignty,” and then charging high seigniorage prices for coining gold or silver bullion. But this was piddling, and occasional debasements were not fast enough for the kings’ insatiable need for revenue. But if the kings could obtain a monopoly right to print paper tickets, and call them the equivalent of gold coins, then there was an unlimited potential for acquiring wealth. In short, if the king could become a legalized monopoly counterfeiter, and simply issue “gold coins” by printing paper tickets with the same names on them, the king could inflate the money supply indefinitely and pay for his unlimited needs.

If the money unit had remained as a standard unit of weight, such as “gold ounce” or “gold grain,” then getting away with this act of legerdemain would have been far more difficult. But the public had already gotten used to pure name as the currency unit, an habituation that enabled the kings to get away with debasing the definition of the money name. The next fatal step on the road to chronic inflation was for the government to print paper tickets and, using impressive designs and royal seals, call the cheap paper the gold unit and use it as such. Thus, if the dollar is defined as 1/20 gold ounce, paper money comes into being when the government prints a paper ticket and calls it “a dollar,” treating it as the equivalent of a gold dollar or 1/20 gold ounce. If the public will accept the paper dollar as equivalent to gold, then the government may become a legalized counterfeiter, and the counterfeiting process comes into play.» (p. 51, 52)

Murray Rothbard, The Mistery of Banking (1983)