What is Fiat Money?
Posted by Orrin Woodward on September 15, 2015
Society developed money to make trade easier between its members. Real money is simply the most marketable commodity within a society. For the most marketable commodity is in high demand and is generally accepted by all parties; consequently, over time, the most marketable commodity becomes the preferred medium of exchange. Of course, this is just another way of saying the most marketable commodity becomes society’s money. Without exaggeration, money is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind because it greatly increases the amount of win-win exchanges.
How does it do that one might ask? Because money allows all goods to be rated using the same monetary units which makes valuation of each item much more convenient. This leads to quicker agreement on win-win exchanges compared to the older and less convenient bartering process. It’s easier, in other words, to trade excess eggs for its money market price and then buy bacon at its money market price rather than barter with every customer over how many eggs is bacon, milk, or even a chiropractic adjustment worth. Money simplifies the exchange process for all members in society; thus, it increases the amount of exchanges occurring. As a result, the division-of-labor and subsequent production and wealth for society’s members greatly increases.
Gold and Silver appear to be mankind’s preferred money because the commodity is in demand outside of its potential use for money, is easily divisible, and is extremely durable (coin collectors have many specimens over 2,500 years old). Of course, as the marketplace within society grew, the time and cost associated with moving precious metal coins from one location to another also grew. Predictably, the marketplace developed a solution to this challenge by creating modern banking. Instead of transferring the physical gold or silver, a bank would create a title or metaphysical representation of the physical precious metal. The paper claim (bank note) would allow the recipient to either receive the said amount of precious metals for the bank note or just exchange the bank notes to others in exchange for goods.
This allowed business to be carried on in others cities without having to physically move the gold or silver. So long as the banks ensured the paper titles represented actual physical gold in the banks, the system worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t take long for the banks, once they had established a reputation of integrity and trust, to start printing more paper notes than the had precious metals backing them. This resulted in the birth of fractional-reserve bank notes – metaphysical banknote money backed by only a fraction of the physical precious metals the notes allegedly represented.
In essence, banks began printing more banknotes supposedly redeemable in precious metals even though the banks did not have enough gold/silver on hand to do so. Naturally, this increased banker profits exponentially but also caused rapid inflation from more not circulating within society. Furthermore, as bank members discover the bank’s fraud, they respond by returning the banknotes and demanding precious metals. Of course, this only works for the early returners of the fiat paper because the precious metals are quickly depleted and the bank collapses. The numerous remaining banknotes, allegedly redeemable in precious metals, are now worthless since the bank pledging to redeem them has bankrupted itself by falling for the something-for-nothing temptation of the fraudulent fractional-reserve-banking system.
This process of collective banknote redemption by the banks members is called a bank run. Although the banks feared and hated this scenario, it is merely society’s natural response to the banks unnatural behavior. For how can a paper note, that is supposed to be simply a representation of the physical money (precious metal), now be passed off as the actual money? This is no different than a seller of land printing multiple paper titles to his land and selling the paper titles to different buyers to reap multiple profits from multiple sales. Indeed, the main difference in the two frauds is that most land title holders will eventually want to see the physical land backing the title where few banknote holders (unless they lose trust in the bank) ever request to see the physical precious metals backing the note. The other difference, ironically, is the seller of multiple land titles (representing the same land) will be prosecuted for fraud while the seller of multiple banknotes (representing the same precious metal) will be protected by the government.
How did the banking system manage to convince governments to support fractional-reserve banking (FRB) fraud when similar practices in any other field are punished severely? Why would governments across the world support such an unethical behavior Perhaps the simplest answer is that all governments are insatiable in their desire for more money and power. The banks offer governments the philosopher’s stone of creating money out of thin air through the ‘joys’ of fractional-reserve banking. The government, in other words, supported the banks fraudulent activity because the banks happily agreed to loan copious amounts of fractional-reserve banknotes to the government. This is an ignominious alliance where the banks gain extra profits by creating money out of thin air and the governments gain extra power by borrowing the FRB funds. As a result, both the banks (profits) and governments (power) benefited while society paid the bill through the predictable inflation, boom/bust cycles, and lost liberties.
The Birth of the Financial Matrix
Absurdly, the monetary madness gets even worse with the beginning of World War I. For before the first World War, the bank notes at least had to be redeemed in gold or silver when demanded by the owner of the notes. Governments, however, knew this would be impossible to do during a war where billions of extra banknotes were create to fund the war without without the backing of any precious metals. As a result, the European governments ended the gold standard and permitted banks to no longer redeem the metaphysical banknotes into the physical precious metal. This was the beginning of fiat money – paper notes not backed by any precious metal but only by the coercion of government.
Fiat paper notes backed by government coercion knocked out the last connection between the metaphysical paper and the physical money. From now on, the central banks would create fiat paper and call it money. Then it allowed the big banks to pyramid fractional-reserve-banking on top of the fiat notes to multiply the money supply ten, one hundred, and eventually thousands of times over the actual commodity money. The purchasing power (amount of production each monetary unit can purchase) decreased disastrously as inflation increased the cost-of-living to unheard of levels.
Fiat paper money allows the banks to create money at will and profit on the loans to governments, businesses, and families. Meanwhile the government supports the FRB fraud by declaring the paper legal tender good for all taxes and monetary exchanges even though it is not backed by any physical precious metal commodity. Fiat money, in effect, is the victory of the governments and banks to replace the physical commodity money society developed with a metaphysical counterfeit that has no physical commodity backing whatsoever. Indeed, the only reason the banks can get away with this scheme is they have purchased government’s support (by loaning FRB money to it) and then using government’s monopoly of force to coerce society into using its funny money. The government has mandated acceptance of the banking system’s fiat paper money and punishes anyone who refuses to do so. Welcome to the wonderful world of fiat money. 🙂