Many economists, from Adam Smith to Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan, have argued that free-markets only function correctly within an institutional framework that stipulates property rights, enforces contracts, and provides a medium of exchange. Furthermore, it is assumed that markets are incapable of generating this framework without the assistance of government. Specifically, Buchanan (2009) claims markets are incapable of producing a stable paper currency standard. If left to the market, Buchanan and others predict, the monetary regime will be highly inflationary. In contrast, I argue that monetary anarchy is a feasible alternative; decentralized agents acting in their own self-interest are capable of generating a stable paper currency standard. A counterfeit commodity standard—where any individual can print as many paper notes as desired without obligation to redeem these notes for some commodity—has all the self-adjusting properties of traditional commodity standards (e.g gold standard). Additionally, it has the potential to adjust more quickly to short-run fluctuations and use fewer resources than traditional commodity standards. Most importantly, the success of this standard relies only on underlying fundamentals and not the precommitments of men who might later renege. I detail the mechanics of a counterfeit commodity standard and illustrate feasibility by analyzing the quasi-counterfeit commodity standard implemented in Somalia.An updated draft will be posted soon.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Working Paper: Monetary Anarchy
Here's the abstract from my latest working paper: