A Program For Monetary Stability by Milton Friedman

By Milton Friedman

Ebook by way of Friedman, Milton

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The economy was growing so rapidly that some increase in the money supply was associated with a halving of prices in fourteen years. The price fall did not occur evenly during the period. Most of the fall came from 1873 to 1879, a period of economic contraction and of declining capital inflows from abroad. It was likewise a period when the money supply fell a trifle. Though concentration on money rather than real magnitudes has caused this contraction to be adjudged even more severe than it actually was, it was nevertheless one of the longest and more severe on record.

The introduction of fiduciary elements would not require government intervention if such promises to pay were always fulfilled, or, alternatively, if the community were willing to carry to the extreme the doctrine of caveat emptor. But the first is not likely to occur, and the second neither is likely to occur nor is it clear that it would be desirable if it did. What is involved is essentially the enforcement of contracts, if the failure of an issuer to fulfill his promise is in good faith, or the prevention of fraud, essentially of counterfeiting, if it is not.

After the usual two-year lag, prices followed. The next two decades saw generally acceleratingthough highly variablemonetary growth and inflation, which had major effects on both ideas about money and monetary institutions. S. was accompanied by rapid economic growth and only modest inflation, thanks in large part to the arrangements for exchange rates agreed to at Bretton Woods, which meant that much of the inflationary effect of the monetary growth was exported. The resulting accumulation of dollars abroad produced upward pressure on the price of gold and growing calls on the United States to honor its Bretton Woods commitment to sell gold at the fixed price of $35 an ounce to foreign central banks.

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