Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.War on Cash, Bank of England Planning Hyper QE, Scrapping Cash for Digital Currency - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Stock Market End Run Smash Crash Looks Imminent... - Clive_Maund
3.Europe Refugee Crisis, UK to Repatriate 120,000 Hungarian Economic Migrants Back to Hungary - Nadeem_Walayat
4.The Great Deflation Will Destroy All Bubbles – These Too - Harry_Dent
5.Deflation Signals Abound for U.S. Dollar, Forex Markets and Commodities - Rambus_Chartology
6.U.S. Housing Market Two Outs in The Bottom of The Ninth - James_Quinn
7.Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary Refugee Hypocrisy After Flooding UK with 4 Million Economic Migrants - Nadeem_Walayat
8.The Two Real Reasons Crude Oil Prices Are Currently Slipping - Dr. Kent Moors
9.R.I.P. Interest Rates - Andrew Snyder
10.Steps from a Deep October Stock Market Selloff - Bob_Loukas
Last 5 days
Theresa May Declares War on Immigration - Conference Speech Full Transcript - 6th Oct 15
Is Russia Plotting To Bring Down OPEC? - 6th Oct 15
Target Date Funds As Aid In Retirement Investment Portfolio Design - 6th Oct 15
Stocks Bear Market Apocalypse Imminent Crash Gets Nuked Again - 6th Oct 15
Redesigning Internet and Facebook to Explore Their Full Potentialities... - 5th Oct 15
Nightshades Curb Your Enthusiasm - 5th Oct 15
U.S. Recession Watch, High-Yield – Rising Defaults - 5th Oct 15
The Social Challenge to Find Humanity in Capitalism - 5th Oct 15
Fed Interest Rate Hike: "I don't care. It doesn't really make much of a difference" - 5th Oct 15
Gold Rose 2.2%, Silver Surged 5.4% After Poor Jobs Number On Friday - 5th Oct 15
Gold, Silver Precious Metals: a Critical Week Ahead - 5th Oct 15
Stock Market Correction Still in Force - 5th Oct 15
Gold Price Change in Character - 5th Oct 15
Putin’s Blitz Leaves Washington Rankled and Confused - 4th Oct 15
More Selling for Stock Market, Gold? - 4th Oct 15
Gold And Silver – A Reality Check - 3rd Oct 15
Stock Market Primary IV Still, or Primary V Underway? - 3rd Oct 15
The Oil Industry’s Day of Reckoning - 3rd Oct 15
U.S. Interest Rate Hikes Keep On Slippin' Into the Future; Treasury Yields Sink Again - 3rd Oct 15
China's Stock Market Crashing; Time for Panic or Restraint - 3rd Oct 15
SPX Stocks Bulls Struggle to Regain the Upper hand... - 2nd Oct 15
The Two Faces of Stock Market Volatility - 2nd Oct 15
Money Supply and the Fed’s Serious Inflation Risks - 2nd Oct 15
Stock Market How Bad Can This Get, And How Fast? - 2nd Oct 15
A Worrying Set Of Recession Signals - 2nd Oct 15
Negative Jobs Report Sents SPX, TNX Lower - 2nd Oct 15
Don't be Fooled by the Recent Equity market Rallies. Its a Bear Market, Stupid! - 2nd Oct 15
US Bond Market - How to Fix This - 2nd Oct 15
Survival Secrets from Colorado Resource Investing Front Lines - 2nd Oct 15
What Two Risks From Rising Interest-Rates Could Each Trigger A New Global Crisis? - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market S&P 500 Volatility-Based Price Probability Range - 1st Oct 15
Dow Stock Market About To Crash Like October 1929? Get Your Physical Silver - 1st Oct 15
Stock Market Negative Expectations Once Again - Will It Break Down? - 1st Oct 15
Advice for Biotech Investors: 'Hold Your Powder' 'til Winter - 1st Oct 15
Best Short-Term Commodity Market Opportunities - Video - 1st Oct 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Why Bankers Created the Fed 100 Years Ago

Politics / US Federal Reserve Bank Dec 24, 2013 - 09:20 PM GMT

By: Christopher_Westley


The Democratic Party gained prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century as being the party that opposed the Second Bank of the United States. In the process, it tapped into an anti-state sentiment that proved so strong that we wouldn't see another like it until the next century.

Its adversaries were Whig politicians who defended the bank and its ability to grow the government and their own personal fortunes at the same time. They were, in fact, quite open about these arrangements. It was considered standard-operating procedure for Whig representatives to receive monetary compensation for their support of the Bank when leaving Congress. The Whig Daniel Webster even expected annual payments while in Congress. Once he complained to the Bank of the United States President Nicholas Biddle, “I believe my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to send me my usual retainer.”

No wonder these people were often pummeled with canes on the House floor.

It is little wonder that early Democrats garnered such popular support and would demand Andrew Jackson end America’s experiment with central banking. Jackson called it “dangerous to the liberty of the American people because it represented a fantastic centralization of economic and political power under private control.”

It’s hard to believe that guy who said that is now on the $20 bill.

Jackson also warned that the Bank of the United States was “a vast electioneering engine” that could “control the Government and change its character.” These sentiments were echoed by Roger Taney, Jackson’s Treasury Secretary, who talked of the Bank's “corrupting influence” and ability to “influence elections.” (The Whigs would later get revenge on this future chief justice when Abraham Lincoln, in response to a written opinion with which he disagreed, issued his arrest warrant.)

But the courtship between the political classes and their cronies would continue in the decades following Lincoln’s assassination. Those politically well-connected groups that benefited from early central banking continued to benefit from government finance, especially off of “internal improvements,” which is the nineteenth-century term for pork. National banking would appear during the War Between the States, setting in place a banking system in which individual banks would be chartered by the federal government. The government itself would use regulations backed by a new armed U.S. Treasury police force to encourage the banks’ inflation and protect them from the market penalties that inflation would otherwise bring them, such as the loss of specie and the occurrence of bank runs.

The boom and bust cycle, explained by the Austrian School in such detail, became worse and worse in the period leading up to 1913. And with the rise of Progressive Era spending on war and welfare, and with the pressure on banks to inflate to finance this activity, the boom and bust cycles worsened even more. If there was one saving grace about this period it would be that banks were forced to internalize their losses. When banks faced runs on their currencies, private financiers would bail them out. But this arrangement didn’t last, so when the losses grew, those financiers would secretly organize to reintroduce central banking to America, thus engineering an urgent need for a new “lender of last resort.” The result was the Federal Reserve.

This was the implicit socialization of the banking industry in the United States. People called the Federal Reserve Act the Currency Bill, because it was to create a bureaucracy that would assume the currency-creating duties of member banks.

It was like the Patriot Act, in that both were centralizing bills that were written years in advance by people who were waiting for the appropriate political environment in which to introduce them. It was like our current health care bills, in which cartelized firms in private industry wrote chunks of the legislation behind closed doors long before they were introduced in Congress.

It was unnecessary. If banks were simply held to similar standards as other more efficient industries were held to — the rule of law at the very least — then far fewer fraudulent banks would ever come about. There were market institutions that would penalize those banks that over-issued currencies, brought about bank runs, and financial crises. As Mises would later write:

What is needed to prevent further credit expansion is to place the banking business under the general rules of commercial and civil laws compelling each individual and firm to fulfill all obligations in full compliance with the terms of contract.

The bill was passed fairly easily, in part because the Democrats had a larger majority in both Houses than they do today. There were significant differences that were resolved in conference, with one compromise resulting in the requirement that only 40 percent of the gold reserve back the new currency. So instead of a 1-to-1 relationship between gold and currency issued — a ratio that defined sound market banking since the time of Renaissance Italy — the new Federal Reserve notes would be inflated, by law, at a ratio of 1-to-2.5.

The bill that was first drawn up at Jekyll Island was signed by Woodrow Wilson in the Oval Office shortly after the Senate approved it. At one point during the signing ceremony, as he reached for a gold pen to finish signing the bill, he jokingly declared “I’m drawing on the gold reserve.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Central banks always result in feeding those forces that centralize and expand the nation-state. The Fed’s policies in the 1920s, so well documented by Rothbard, would provoke the Great Depression, which, in the end, wrenched political power from cities and state governments to the swampland in Washington. Today people take seriously the claim that there can be a viable federal solution to every problem thanks to the money printed up by the Fed, while each decade has seen a larger proportion of the population become dependent on its inflation.

And yet Andrew Jackson’s beliefs about the perniciousness of the Second Bank of the United States are just as applicable to the Federal Reserve today.

Here’s to hoping we’ll see Jackson’s hawkish nose and unkempt hair on a gold-backed, privately issued currency in the not–too-distant future.

Christopher Westley is an adjunct scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He teaches in the College of Commerce and Business Administration at Jacksonville State University. Send him mail. See Christopher Westley's article archives. Comment on the blog.

© 2013 Copyright Ludwig von Mises - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2015 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History