Mere inflation—that is, the mere issuance of more money , with the consequence of higher wages and prices—may look like the creation of more demand. But in terms of the actual production and exchange of real things it is not.
—Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson
Money is among the most important forms of technology. It solves the fundamental human problem of barter and allows us to transfer value across geography and time. By enabling efficient trade—and thereby profit and capital investment—money has been as critical to human development as fire and the wheel.
This money technology arose in the marketplace, without design by central authorities. Carl Menger explained the origin of money as the most saleable commodity. Ludwig von Mises explained its value as flowing from an earlier nonmonetary use. And for centuries gold was used worldwide as a stable form of payment.
Yet today money is dominated by politics. One of the great tragedies of human history is the commandeering of money by kings and governments to serve their own purposes. Fiat money—which is to say political money—operates as an instrument of state power rather than a product of the marketplace. Money today requires “policy,” in the form of politicians and central bankers to run it.
This political money is at the heart of our economic problems.
Perhaps our most important job at the Mises Institute is to help intelligent lay audiences understand and fight political money. To that end we offer a brilliant new book by Dr. Thorsten Polleit, a Mises Institute associated scholar and an influential German economist. The Global Currency Plot is a tour de force in a very compact and readable form, and we’ve excerpted some of the most compelling chapters here (you can read the entire book at mises.org/plot).
This book is nothing less than a mini course in Austrian economics applied directly to the present-day reality of 2023 politics and the global economy. It covers everything from logic, human action, money, the state, democracy, and socialism to bitcoin and central bank digital currencies. But the author’s summary is a nice encapsulation of the book:
“Ultimately, it is ideas (or theories) that guide people’s actions. Ideas determine what is considered good and evil, just and unjust, feasible and impossible. However, human action will only be successful if the ideas that guide it are compatible with the laws that undoubtedly exist in the field of human action. It is therefore crucial to change the ideas prevailing today if the dystopia of a political world currency and a world state is to be prevented. This requires putting the dominant ideas to the test in a rigorous intellectual discourse and, if they do not withstand critical examination, debunking them and rejecting them as false.”
We are enormously excited to bring you this book and hope you will recommend it to anyone interested in the fight against monetary hedonism. The Global Currency Plot not only debunks the disastrous economics of a centrally planned worldwide system of “democratic” socialism, but explains its utter incompatibility with human nature and human reason.
We’re in a war, and Dr. Polleit provides us with ready ammunition.
Also in this issue, David Gordon reviews a brandnew biography of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, Scalia: Rise to Greatness, 1936–1986, taking a fresh look at his legal thought in the process. Fans of the Mises Institute may have mixed feeling about “Nino,” who, in the more radical Rothbardian sense, surely was imperfect in his broad understanding of constitutional liberty.
And yet Scalia in many ways personified a far better strain of American judicial temperament than we are likely to see again, one suspicious of state power and reluctant to expand the court’s jurisdiction. His interpretative doctrine of text-based originalism, which sought to apply the plain meaning of statutory text rather than conjure up the nebulous “rights” and penumbras desired by lawmakers, was a needed check on judicial grandiosity. He helped blunt the worst excesses of the Warren court and gave hope to a new generation of legal scholars who argued for restraint rather than activism. And Scalia’s bombastic personality, explored at length in this biography, provides great insights into his development as both a jurist and a man. But you’ll have to read David’s review to decide if the book is worth your time.
Finally, we wish to thank each and every one of you for subscribing to The Austrian and supporting the Mises Institute in the process. It is proving to be an exciting year, and we hope you will join us both online and at live events in 2023.