Money, Banking and the Federal Reserve

A friend recently asked me to recommend a book that explains the Fed. In my efforts to find the best book to introduce the topic, I came upon this documentary. Although it must be several decades old, it clearly and thoroughly lays out the basics of money and the Fed and can serve as an accessible starting point from which to go on to read one of the many books on the subject, a few of which I recommend below.

My recommendations for further reading…

“In the post-meltdown world, it is irresponsible, ineffective, and ultimately useless to have a serious economic debate without considering and challenging the role of the Federal Reserve. Most people think of the Fed as an indispensable institution without which the country’s economy could not properly function. But in End the Fed, Ron Paul draws on American history, economics, and fascinating stories from his own long political life to argue that the Fed is both corrupt and unconstitutional. It is inflating currency today at nearly a Weimar or Zimbabwe level, a practice that threatens to put us into an inflationary depression where $100 bills are worthless. What most people don’t realize is that the Fed — created by the Morgans and Rockefellers at a private club off the coast of Georgia — is actually working against their own personal interests. Congressman Paul’s urgent appeal to all citizens and officials tells us where we went wrong and what we need to do to fix America’s economic policy for future generations.”–Amazon

The Case Against the Fed takes a critical look at the United States Federal Reserve and central banks in general. It details the history of reserve banking and the influence that bankers have had on monetary policy over the last few centuries. The claim that the U.S. Federal Reserve is designed to fight inflation is proven false in this book,–in fact, it is price inflation which is caused only by an increase in the money supply, and since only banks increase the money supply, then banks, including the Federal Reserve, are the only source of inflation. First published in 1994, this book is more vital and relevant today than ever.”–Amazon

“Murray Rothbard, in What Has the Government Done to Our Money, has made huge theoretical advances. He was the first to prove that the government, and only the government, can destroy money on a mass scale, and he showed exactly how they go about this dirty deed. But just as importantly, it is beautifully written. Rothbard tells a thrilling story because he loves the subject so much. The passion that Murray feels for the topic comes through in the prose and transfers to the reader. Readers become excited about the subject, and tell others. Students tell professors. Some, like the great Ron Paul of Texas, have even run for political office after having read it. Rothbard shows precisely how banks create money out of thin air and how the central bank, backed by government power, allows them to get away with it. He shows how exchange rates and interest rates would work in a true free market. When it comes to describing the end of the gold standard, he is not content to describe the big trends. He names names and ferrets out all the interest groups involved. Since Rothbard’s death, scholars have worked to assess his legacy, and many of them agree that this little book is one of his most important. Though it has sometimes been inauspiciously packaged and is surprisingly short, its argument took huge strides toward explaining that it is impossible to understand public affairs in our time without understanding money and its destruction.”–Amazon

For more mathy types, the following article from the great website, zerohedge, may be of interest. This article refers specifically to the income inequality effect of money printing:

Wealth Inequality in America, Understanding the Source

Finally, a couple of my recent shows touch on the role of the Fed in both growing income inequality and the boom-bust cycle. Here are the podcasts:

Income Inequality Debunked

It’s the boom that’s the problem.

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