Rothbard Murray Newton - The mystery of banking

Author : Rothbard Murray Newton
Title : The mystery of banking
Year : 1983

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Foreword. by Gary North. You have here a unique academic treatise on money and banking, a book which combines erudition, clarity of expression, economic theory, monetary theory, economic history, and an appropriate dose of conspiracy theory. Anyone who attempts to explain the mystery of banking—a deliberately contrived mystery in many ways—apart from all of these aspects has not done justice to the topic. But, then again, this is an area in which justice has always been regarded as a liability. The moral account of central banking has been overdrawn since 1694: “insufficient funds.” (footnote: P. G. M. Dickson. The Financial Revolution in England: A Study in the Development of Public Credit, 1688-1756 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1967); John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783 (New York: Knopf, 1988).) I am happy to see The Mystery of Money available again. I had negotiated with Dr. Rothbard in 1988 to re-publish it through my newsletter publishing company, but both of us got bogged down in other matters. I dithered. I am sure that the Mises Institute will do a much better job than I would have in getting the book into the hands of those who will be able to make good use of it. I want you to know why I had intended to re-publish this book. It is the only money and banking textbook I have read which forthrightly identifies the process of central banking as both immoral and economically destructive. It identifies fractional reserve banking as a form of embezzlement. While Dr. Rothbard made the moral case against fractional reserve banking in his wonderful little book, What Has Government Done to Our Money? (1964), as far as I am aware, The Mystery of Banking was the first time that this moral insight was applied in a textbook on money and banking. Perhaps it is unfair to the author to call this book a textbook. Textbooks are traditional expositions that have been carefully crafted to produce a near-paralytic boredom—“chloroform in print,” as Mark Twain once categorized a particular religious treatise. Textbooks are written to sell to tens of thousands of students in college classes taught by professors of widely varying viewpoints. Textbook manuscripts are screened by committees of conventional representatives of an academic guild. While a textbook may not be analogous to the traditional definition of a camel—a horse designed by a committee—it almost always resembles a taxidermist’s version of a horse: lifeless and stuffed. The academically captive readers of a textbook, like the taxidermist’s horse, can be easily identified through their glassy-eyed stare. Above all, a textbook must appear to be morally neutral. So, The Mystery of Banking is not really a textbook. It is a monograph. ...

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