Atlas Sound Money Project Interview with George Selgin

See this new excellent interview with George Selgin. I think it is harder to find any bigger expert on Free Banking theory and Free Banking history than George. Great stuff – even though I do not agree with everything (yes, believe it of not – I do not agree with everything George is saying).

George in the interview recommends that the Fed should introduce a NGDP target rule as a second best to his preferred solution to abolish the Fed. George thinks that a NGDP target rule could be introduced as a Bitcoin style computer algorithm – similar to what he suggests in his recent paper on Quasi-Commodity money (in the paper he discuss a Free Baning solution rather than a central bank solution). I personally think that a Quasi-Commodity standard could be the future for Free Banking money, but I think Scott Sumner’s suggestion for a futures based NGDP targeting regime would work better as long as you maintain central banks.

Googlenomics and the popularity of Bitcoin

Lasse Birk Olesen’s guest post about Bitcoin inspired me to do a bit of Googlenomics. I simply had a look at searches in Google for ‘Bitcoin’ using Google Insight.

The “bubble” that Lasse talked about in 2011 is certainly also visible in google searches. Have a look on this graph.

Since June 2011 the search activity for Bitcoin, however, has gone down somewhat, but is still at a somewhat higher level than prior to the 2011 spike. So judging from a bit of Googlenomics Bitcoin is still alive – whether it is kicking is another question.

I am still not sure what to make of Bitcoin as an alternative currency. However, any monetary theorist should take the development in the Bitcoin market serious as it might tell us something about not only the Bitcoin itself, but also about the general monetary developments. It would for example be very interesting to see a study of what determines the exchange rate for Bitcoins against other currencies.

Furthermore, if anybody is aware of any serious academic studies of the Bitcoin market I would be very interesting in hearing from you (lacsen@gmail.com).

Everybody interested not only in Bitcoin, but more generally in what George Selgin has termed Quasi-Commodity money should have a look here. Scott Sumner as a somewhat different, but equally relevant in a post today.

I will not in anyway promise to give more attention to the Bitcoin phenomon. That is not the is not the purpose of my blog, but I do promise that to the extent that I think the Bitcoin market can teach us more about monetary theory and monetary policy in general I surely will follow up on these developments in the future.

Selgin on Quasi-Commodity Money (Part 1)

George Selgin just send me his new paper on what he has termed Quasi-Commodity Money. George spoke briefly on this topic in his recent presentation at the Italian Free Market think tank the Bruno Leoni Institute. See my comment here on the presentation and my review on a related paper – “L Street – Selgin’s prescription for Money Market reform”

Over at Freebanking.org George is complaining that he does not have enough time for blogging. Unfortunately I am in slightly the same situation. Greece is on the verge of default and so it is busy, busy times in the financial sector and I have promised to write a paper on monetary explanations for the Great Depression for the Danish libertarian journal the Libertas magazine and also need to write a preview for the republished version of the Danish translation of Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” (Remember uncle Milt would have turned 100 this year). And then I need to review a couple of books for another magazine. So yes I share George’s frustration about not having enough time for everything. Therefore, I will not write a review of George’s paper today. However, I do promise to do that very soon as I know that what George has to say always is interesting and important.

Until then here is the abstract of George’s paper:

“This paper considers reform possibilities posed by a type of base money that has heretofore been overlooked in the literature on monetary economics. I call this sort of money ‘quasi-commodity money’ because it shares features with both commodity money and fiat money, as these are usually defined, without fitting the conventional definition of either; examples of such money are Bitcoin and the ‘Swiss dinars’ that served as the currency of northern Iraq for over a decade. I argue that the attributes of quasi-commodity money are such as might supply the basis for a monetary regime that does not require oversight by any monetary authority, yet is capable of providing for all such changes in the money stock as may be needed to achieve a high degree of macroeconomic stability.”

As I will not be reviewing the paper this week but hopefully next week I would like to hear what my readers make of George’s paper – I know I will probably be convinced that George’s concept is correct once I have read the paper, but will my readers be as well?

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