Do economies actually exist or are there merely patterns of trade between consenting, economising, producers? It is undeniable that countries and governments and the people subject to them, exist. Various prods and pats given by governments (tariffs, bounties, taxes, subsidies, prescriptions and prohibitions, issuance of state money) certainly exist too, and are described as being ‘good for the economy’. State money, in particular, seems to exist in ever and ever greater quantity but economies are not things that exist in the same sense.
Employing a mix of historical account and theoretical analysis Bob Layson’s talk ranges from the rise of specialist private production of goods for barter, to the use of a commodity money, and then the mismanagement of money by princes and potentates: coin clipping; coin sweating; coin adulteration. A payment of the state debt in coins baring the same name but having a reduced or adulterated content and purchasing power. From monarchs and mercantilism on to parliaments, a proportionately smaller state, a gold standard, and free trade – and, unfortunately, empire.
Are business cycles endemic to the market process? No. A free market recession requires a great deal of government compulsion, and Bob has he the recipe. For the evil of chronic mass unemployment to triumph it is necessary only for “good” men in office to “do something”.
Keynesian demand management is a policy response to the effect of previous interventionist policies – fiscal, institutional, regulatory and monetary – and is equally unnecessary.
The speaker concludes that national floating fiat monies have not resulted in either greater growth or a lower rate of unemployment than a single world commodity money would have allowed.