Monday, August 31, 2009

capitalists can't do capitalism


The Record of the Federal Reserve
By Erik Voorhees | 27 Aug 2009
Not a day goes by without talk of the Federal Reserve, whether by the organization itself or by its opponents. An incessant cheerleader of his organization, Chairman Ben Bernanke will be the first to tell you that the Federal Reserve is an utmost necessity to the smooth operation of the U.S. financial system. Some would disagree. And while ongoing events can be difficult to objectively examine, hindsight is usually much more prescient.

Let's set aside what The Fed says for a moment and examine what it actually does.

* From 1776 to 1912 (136 years), the value of the dollar, relative to the Consumer Price Index, increased by 11%. A dollar could buy 11% more goods in 1912 than in 1776. Thus, if in 1776, you sat on your savings pile of $1,000,000 for 136 years, it would then be worth $1,110,000 in purchasing power (it will have appreciated in value by 11%). A loaf of bread for Thomas Jefferson cost the same as a loaf of bread for Lincoln 50 years later and again the same for J.P. Morgan 50 years after that.

* The United States Federal Reserve System was created in 1913. The stated purpose of the Fed, by the definition taken from its own website, is to "conduct the nation's monetary policy by influencing money and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of full employment and stable prices." Note that "stable prices" is another way of saying "stable dollar," they are two sides of the same coin (couldn't resist the pun).

* After the Fed's creation, from 1913 to 2008 (95 years), the value of the dollar, relative to the Consumer Price Index, decreased by 95%. A dollar could buy 95% fewer goods in 2008 than in 1913. Thus, if in 1913, you sat on your savings pile of $1,000,000 for 95 years, it would then be worth only $50,000 in purchasing power (it will have depreciated in value by 95%). One would now need to pay about 20X more than J.P. Morgan for one's bread. Ask my mother how much the price of milk has increased just in the last ten years alone.

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