Category Archives: Money

“Just Made-up Money”

Part of the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking to wealthy potential donors includes Romney’s answer to a question on the Federal Reserve buying debt. Romney insists that the Federal Reserve is buying most of America’s debt, which isn’t true. But he also says this: So who’s giving us the trillion? And the answer […]

A brief history of American money

The GOP has revived talk of a gold standard. The Wall Street Journal, which nodded approvingly when we went off the gold standard in 1972, now says “realization that America’s system of fiat money is part of its economic problem is moving from the fringes of political discussion to the center.”  There are so many […]

Going for the Gold

The Republican Party’s 2012 platform calls for the establishment of a “Gold Committee,” to explore ways of returning to the gold standard. It would also call for or conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve. The gold standard has been a favorite hobby of the GOP, off and on, for many years. The last gold […]

book costs again

I’ve had some very interesting exchanges about “saving the AHA.” Just to revisit the idea, let’s imagine you wrote a very nice piece of very specialized research. The ready audience for the book is probably 1000 people, including academic libraries. Imagine you sent it to the AHA, and they sent it to reviewers who were […]

The slave and the dollar.

The following is adapted from my book Face Value, which is supposedly coming out in May from the University of Chicago Press. In 1788, an anonymous satirist proposed using the body parts of black people as money, since their bodies were already for sale. To save trouble in “counting or calculating the value of this new […]

Goldman Sachs Confessional

The’re been a lot of buzz about Greg Smith’s editorial in the New York Times, explaining why he resigned from Goldman Sachs. It’s mostly a load of nonsense, not because he’s wrong about Goldman Sachs, but because of the way he sets the story up. Smith says he’s resigning, after 12 years at the firm, because […]

Why Libertarians Love Slavery

Recently Senator Rand Paul argued that wanting universal health care was a form of slavery. And his father, Ron Paul, similarly argued that Social Security and Welfare are also forms of slavery. Ron Paul also argued, on Hard­ball with Chris Math­ews, that he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, because the Act, […]

Strong Dollar/Weak Dollar

The dollar is weak! President X’s policies have weakened the dollar! We need a strong dollar, a dollar with vigor and health! Political debates about money are never just about money. Money is central to who we are. We buy things that express out taste, out political beliefs, our “lifestyle choices,” and these things confer […]

The private sector and its alleged efficiencies

It’s common to argue that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. In the private sector, competition drives businesses to relentlessly cut costs and maximize output. Private businesses run lean and mean, with none of the waste associated with the public sector. If this is true, why is that if you want […]

Ron Paul, the Gold Standard and Neo Confederates

Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman, is now chair of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Monetary Policy, which means he gets to hold hearings into the Federal Reserve and to push his pet project, the gold standard. I like the fact that Paul wants to open the Fed to criticism. I’d criticize it too, […]