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The Fiat Currency Disease
by James Turk

Yesterday the Federal Reserve completed the latest meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee. It re-affirmed its plan to purchase by the end of the year some $1.8 trillion – yes, $1.8 trillion – of US government paper, comprising of agency debt, agency mortgage-backed securities and US Treasuries. That’s nearly $6,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

While $1.8 trillion is a gargantuan amount of money, the actual amount is of secondary importance to the essential, piercing question. Namely, where is this $1.8 trillion going to come from?

The answer is not pretty. These dollars will come from the same place that all other dollars are created these days, namely, out of thin air. Here’s how Mr. Bernanke explained this monetary sleight-of-hand before he was appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve. “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

Like most central banker statements, this one is based on half-truths. How can there possibly be “essentially no cost” to creating all these dollars? We all know that there is no free lunch in the real world, so there must be some significant cost to creating so many dollars, right?

Please read Mr. Bernanke’s statement again. There may be essentially no cost to the US government, but here is what he doesn’t tell you. There is a very real and huge cost to everyone who ends up holding these dollars that were created ‘out of thin air’. It is the cost of inflation; it is the onerous cost burden arising from the reality that the purchasing power of the dollar is being continuously eroded. And the more dollars that are created beyond the need for dollars in normal commerce, the worst the inflation becomes. The $1.8 trillion the Federal Reserve will soon be creating should cause those remaining deflationists still arguing their point of view to recognize that they are looking down the wrong road.

They argue that deflation is inevitable because credit is contracting. However, contracting credit is not deflation. Rather, contracting credit causes wealth destruction, but does not necessarily cause deflation in a fiat currency world.

Deflation arises when the quantity of dollars contracts, as it did when credit contracted in the Great Depression. But the quantity of dollars is not contracting today. It continues to grow, regardless what measure one uses, M1, M2 or M3 (which John Williams of http://www.shadowstats.com estimates to have grown +7.3% over the past 12 months).

Percent change at seasonally adjusted annual rate:


Percent change at seasonally adjusted annual rate



  3 Months from Feb 2009 TO May 2009  



  6 Months from Nov 2008 TO May 2009  



  12 Months from May 2008 TO May 2009  



Source: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/h6.htm

What’s more, the trillions of dollars created out of thin air for various bailout schemes as well as this latest $1.8 trillion planned purchase by the Federal Reserve will make sure that the quantity of dollars continues to grow. The result will be that the purchasing power of the dollar will continue to be inflated away.

It has become increasingly apparent that the US dollar has caught the fiat currency disease, where too many units of account are created. This disease is fatal, and hundreds of fiat currencies buried in the fiat currency graveyard throughout history have succumbed to it.

By creating too many units of account out of thin air, the Federal Reserve has sealed the dollar’s inflationary fate. Own gold and/or silver to protect yourself and your family from this inevitable outcome.


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