Murray Rothbard: What Has The Government Done To Our Money?

In the classic David Gordon joke, the world’s shortest book is perhaps Your Duties to Other People, by Ayn Rand. Murray Rothbard’s classic on money is slightly longer than that, but it is still a very quick read.

Broken down into three main sections, What Has The Government Done To Our Money? is a breathless Blitzkrieg of the story of money, from its inception in the free market as a precious metal medium of exchange, right through to its usurpation and debasement by government and its eventual replacement by paper fiat currency, endlessly printed by the world’s central banks to give us all of the malinvestment distortions of the present age, along with all of their associated bursting financial bubbles:

  • Money in a Free Society
  • Government Meddling With Money
  • The Monetary Breakdown of the West

As the hardest of hard-money men, Rothbard is unrelenting and unequivocal in his criticism of those who took us from a solid money system based upon gold or silver, towards a fractional reserve system based upon paper, though he is forensic in his analysis of how they did it, taking centuries in the process to accomplish this unfeasible goal. However, he tells the story with a twinkle in his eye and his scalpel-like prose flows like a hand through silken water.

Unfortunately, Rothbard died in 1995, but he would have loved to have been around today to tackle head-on all of the Keynesians who are currently blighting our economic futures. Alas, all of the distortions he describes and predicts in his book are visible all around us today, with zero percent central bank lending, massive government borrowing, and incipient and possibly rampant stagflation waiting to gobble us up around the corner, if hyper-depression and hyper-inflation fail to get us first.

Freely available at the Mises Institute, to share the beginnings of Rothbard’s understanding this slim introductory book on the story of money is a sure-footed stepping stone for all aspiring students of Austrian Economics.

About Andy Duncan

An Austrian Internet Vigilante trying to live Outside the Asylum
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1 Response to Murray Rothbard: What Has The Government Done To Our Money?

  1. P.M.Lawrence says:

    Perhaps sadly, all the best available evidence (archaeological, historical, etc.) suggests that “the story of money, from its inception in the free market as a precious metal medium of exchange” is wrong. It appears that the first use of precious metals as money – that is, as a circulating medium of exchange – was in the form of coins invented by the rulers of Lydia, little more than stamped and certified miniature ingots at first, which were soon copied by other rulers and may have been re-invented independently elsewhere. Precious metals were used in the early free market, though, as shown in the story of Joseph’s brothers selling him as a slave to merchants for pieces of precious metal – but those were literally pieces, not coins as we might suppose; such things were generally kept as treasure and not circulated as a regular thing, even if they did get traded from time to time, so they didn’t count under our modern definition of money but rather as objects of barter like anything else that got bartered. That is, they got traded every so often in a one off way and then held, just like other things, rather than being passed on all the time.

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