George Selgin

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George Selgin is a Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. He is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. His research covers a broad range of topics within the field of monetary economics, including monetary history, macroeconomic theory, and the history of monetary thought. He is the author of The Theory of Free Banking (Rowman & Littlefield, 1988), Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order (Routledge, 1996), Less Than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy (The Institute of Economic Affairs, 1997), and, most recently, Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage (University of Michigan Press, 2008). He has written as well for numerous scholarly journals, including the British Numismatic Journal, The Economic Journal, the Economic History Review, the Journal of Economic Literature, and the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, and for popular outlets such as The Christian Science Monitor, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other popular outlets. Professor Selgin is also, a co-editor of Econ Journal Watch, an electronic journal devoted to exposing “inappropriate assumptions, weak chains of argument, phony claims of relevance, and omissions of pertinent truths” in the writings of professional economists. He holds a B.A. in economics and zoology from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University.

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Central Banking: the Real "Dangerous Mistake"

by George Selgin February 12th, 2014 4:49 pm

Kurt Schuler just alerted me to this recent FT article attacking Bitcoin, by a former Federal Reserve employee named Mark Williams. The article is noteworthy for its pie-in-the-sky view of central bankers--a view that seems to be informed by sheer wishful thinking, rather than by even the most meager recognition of how actual central banks, including the Fed, routinely botch up their economies.

Here is a sampling of the sort of pablum Mr. Williams dishes out, seemingly cooked up by his former employer's PR staff:

Keeping money stable and trustworthy has traditionally been a function of national governments. By controlling the money supply and targeting interest rates, the authorities try to promote job creation and economic growth, while preventing runaway inflation that would cause the system of market exchange to break down. Calibrating monetary policy to the needs of the economy is an enormous undertaking. Central banks such as the US Federal Reserve employ hundreds of people to analyse economic data, chart the best path for monetary policy and explain their decisions to the public.

Bitcoin, in contrast, Williams observes, appears to have been motivated by "the libertarian ideal of putting money creation beyond the reach of meddling central bankers." "Meddling?" (I imagine Mr. Williams thinking); "Where do those libertarians get such silly ideas? Don't they realize that central bankers are just technicians seeing to it that money is scientifically managed so as to maximize social welfare? Why, to listen to them you'd think that there was something in central banks' records to complain about--you know, inflation and cycles and bailouts and moral hazard and that kinda stuff. Geez, what a paranoid bunch! Why don't they read economics principles textbooks like I did so that they can understand what central banks are really like?"

For Mr. Williams it is not central banks, with their almost unchallenged currency monopolies, but Bitcoin, with its miniscule share of total payments, that we should all be worried about. For the Bitcoin set-up, with its predetermined supply schedule, "ignores the ebbs and flow of economic cycles" altogether, thus constituting a "reckless" alternative to conventional monies that "is the equivalent of a doctor giving penicillin to every patient without first checking whether they are suffering from infection, depression or mania."

Letting the clunky analogy pass, Mr. Williams has a point: the Bitcoin monetary "rule," to call it that for argument's sake, is unlikely to prove ideal, should Bitcoin ever manage somehow to become a true rival to established monies. But that hardly justifies Mr. Williams' suggestion that Bitcoin is "dangerous," or that it ought to be either stamped out altogether or (what amounts to the same thing) subjected to central bankers' control. Mr. Williams here seems to forget that, whatever its other qualities, Bitcoin, unlike, say, Federal Reserve dollars, is a voluntary exchange medium; no one is obliged to either receive or to pay it, whether by legal tender laws or by banking and other regulations. Because Bitcoin is voluntary, it doesn't carry the risk of holding an entire economy at its mercy. Only official paper monies can do that. Only such monies have done it, time and time again.

What's more, as Mr. Williams recognizes, rival cryptocurrency entrepreneurs have been busy (with the help of some prodding by yours truly) developing more macroeconomically smart alternatives to Bitcoin. But Mr. Williams, like any good technocrat (or, for that matter, any ca. 1948 socialist) is cocksure that no amount of old-fashioned entrepreneurial ingenuity can ever be a match for "central bankers who can adjust monetary policy to promote prosperity when people behave in unexpected ways," that is, for white lab-coat donning scientists who fine-tune the money stock against a backdrop of spinning gauges, bubbling Erlenmeyer flasks and steaming retorts, all according to Mr. Williams' black-and-white B-movie version of how central banks function.* No sir: we can't expect any private money to cope with "patterns of human behaviour that are too complex to capture in a simple rule." After all, real human beings, unlike Mr. Williams' sci-fi central bankers, are made of flesh and blood.

Addendum (2/12/2014, 5:50PM): Jerry Dwyer (another former Fed employee, but one who actually knows a lot about monetary policy and history, not to mention alternative currencies) responds to the same FT piece.

_____________________________
*As Mr. Williams served the Fed as a bank examiner, he presumably never witnessed an actual FOMC meeting, let alone the behind-the-scenes dealings of that committee's chief with senior government officials. Whether he can possibly entertain a similarly starry-eyed view of Fed bank examiners, even in the wake of the last decade's events, is a good question.


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Economic Schools of Thought

by George Selgin February 10th, 2014 11:23 pm

At the close of my last post here, I referred to myself as a "non-Austrian," causing one of our regular commentators to wonder why. "Because," I answered, "belonging means conforming."

That admittedly cryptic reply (I was anxious to get back to the book I was reading) led to speculation to the effect that I was inclined to identify "Austrian" economics with the economics of Murray Rothbard, and particularly with his and his devotees' opposition to fractional reserve banking.

But although it's true that I have a low opinion of the ideas and arguments put forward by the 100-percent crowd, and that I'd rather swallow a dozen toads than have anyone confuse my thinking with theirs, I don't believe they've yet succeeded, despite trying their damnedest, in hijacking the "Austrian" brand name. There are, thank goodness, still plenty of non-Rothbardian "Austrians," including my fellow blogger and former colleague and mentor Larry White. But though there is no such radical difference--and in some cases hardly any difference at all--between my views and those of such non-Rothbardian Austrians, I wouldn't consider myself an Austrian even if they were the only self-styled Austrians around. My reason has nothing to do with any particular "Austrian" belief to which I object. I don't consider myself an Austrian economist for the same reason that I don't consider myself a Chicago economist, or a Keynesian economist, or a New Classical economist, or a--well, you get the point. I don't want to belong to any economic school of thought, or to "do" any sort of economics. I just want to "do" my own sort of economics.

And what sort of economics is that? I can't tell you--I've never thought much about it. But perhaps that's just it: I don't "think" about writing any "sort" of economics. I don't want to have to think about whether what I'm up to qualifies as "praxeology" or not, or whether Mises would mind my using terms like "money" and "inflation" the way most contemporary economists use them, instead of the way Mises himself used them a century ago. Nor am I any more inclined to trouble myself over whether my work fits neatly into any other economic school's pigeonhole. I don't worry about not having a "model," meaning a bunch of equations, when I'm perfectly confident that I can say what I need to say in plain English. (I rather wish that other economists both appreciated the power of plain English, and knew how to make proper use of it.) But if there's one thing I truly believe concerning the "methodology" of economics, it's that thinking about it is as helpful to actually doing economics as contemplating one's steps is to dancing the rumba. In short, having to look over my shoulder while I think or write, at any methodological strictures at all, cramps my style.

I can't imagine, on the other hand, what it could possibly mean for me to declare myself an Austrian (or a Chicagoan, or a Keynesian...) unless it means precisely that when I think or write about economics I seek while doing so to abide as much as possible by what I consider to be the distinguishing maxims of the Austrian (or Chicagoan or Keynesian...) approach. That is what I meant when I said that "belonging is conforming." And though I suppose some will take issue with this--that they will insist that being "Austrian" is not so strict a matter as all that--I can only observe in return that they might wish to consider what it would mean--no, what it has already meant--to have that label bandied about by every other anti-government nitwit. No sir: a school of thought had better insist upon its defining tenets, or risk becoming a laughing stock.

Does this mean that I think schools of economic thought entirely useless, except perhaps as convenient labels to be used by historians of the discipline after the fact? Not quite. For while I hold self-conscious devotion to any school of thought to amount to putting blinkers on one's brain, I can't deny that such devotion brings offsetting, psychological advantages. The academy is no bed of roses, especially for young faculty; and having the moral support of an organized body of like-minded peers can help a lot. What's more, it can be lots of fun. The alternative is...well, it can get pretty darn lonely.

And that, I suppose, is why, despite everything, I don't really mind being called an Austrian. That at least makes one school whose parties I don't have to crash.


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Feet of Clay

by George Selgin January 28th, 2014 6:40 pm

I never thought it would happen--perhaps I'm slipping.  But as I was preparing to bang-out this post, my first in over a month here, I discovered that, a couple hours ago while I was toiling away in class, Paul Krugman stole my thunder.

Despite that bad omen, I'm plunging in with my two-cents, which, like Krugman's, has been provoked by an article in today's New York Times.  The article, which is mainly about Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, who just recently rotated onto the FOMC, includes a quote from Ed Prescott, who is himself (among other things) a member of the Minneapolis Fed's research staff.  What Prescott said--and what put Krugman in high dudgeon--is: "It is an established scientific fact that monetary policy has had virtually no effect on output and employment in the U.S. since the formation of the Fed."

That's right: no effect--none, nada, zero, zilch--on output, or on employment, ever.  Not even in the 30s.  Or in the 70s.  Or recently.  Why, the Fed might as well set its policy targets by throwing darts at a board, for all the difference it would make to real activity.  Money's just a veil, after all.  We know that--what's more we know it "scientifically."

Krugman rightfully pours scorn on Prescott's assertion, which states a "scientific fact" only in the peculiar sense that distinguishes such facts from ordinary, unqualified, plain-old facts, that is, the sort of facts one might glean from experience.   A "scientific fact," apparently, is not such a grubby affair.  It is, rather, something much more pure, even virginal; it is a fact implied by a theory.  The theory in this case is of course the "real business cycle" theory for which Prescott (and coauthor Finn Kydland) are famous.  The theory starts with the New Classical premise that prices always adjust instantly to their general equilibrium levels, thereby all but eliminating any scope for real consequences of monetary disturbances.  It then proceeds--hey presto!--to the conclusion that, if real variables bounce around, they must do so in response not to monetary but to real shocks.   It follows, as a matter of logic, that the world economy must have met with a whale of an adverse supply shock in the 1930s.  What shock, you wonder?  What difference do such details make?  There had to be a big bad shock, dontchyasee: the theory proves it.   If the historians and econometricians can't find it, well, so much the worse for history and econometrics.

Some Austrian economists like to insist on the a-priori nature of their discipline, while many non-Austrians, myself among them, fault this sort of Austrian economics for its failure to to be swayed by experience.   But when it comes to dogmatic a-priorism,  even the most doctrinaire praxeologist can't hold a candle to some of the economics profession's perfectly mainstream superstars.


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New-Keynesian Thermodynamics

by George Selgin November 30th, 2013 10:11 am

Once, while a good friend was visiting me on a particularly cold winter's night, the temperature in the poorly uninsulated living room of my old Victorian house dropped to a distinctly chilly 62 degrees.   "Can't you make it any warmer?" she asked?  "I'm afraid I can't," I said;  "the thermostat's already on 68."  "Try setting it at 80," she replied.

I didn't indulge her (well, not that way).  But I wonder whether those economists who have been calling for a higher inflation target would have.


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Parliament to Scottish Nationalists: "Get Your Own B__y Money!"

by George Selgin November 27th, 2013 5:50 pm

There are, I'm sure, some parts of the Scottish National party's recent blueprint for an independent Scotland to which the British government might reasonably take umbrage.   But the plan's call for Scotland's continued use of the pound sterling, which has drawn the most criticism, isn't one of them.

The pound sterling has been Scotland's monetary unit since 1707, when the Act of Union led to its adoption in place of the Pound Scots.  Scotland's actual paper currency, on the other hand, has mainly consisted of sterling-denominated notes supplied by several of its own commercial banks.    The nationalists' proposal is therefore  largely (though not entirely) a call for adhering to the status quo, and a rejection of the alternatives of either adopting the Euro or having Scotland once again establish an independent monetary standard.

How has such a seemingly reasonable and innocuous plan managed to ruffle Parliament's feathers? According to The New York Times, the British government

says it is unlikely to agree to share the pound with an independent Scotland, citing the problems experienced by the 17-nation euro zone to illustrate the dangers of a common currency without political union. London says it would be difficult to have the Bank of England act as guarantor of the pound if Scotland had a different fiscal policy from Britain, for example. Nationalists hint that if Scotland cannot keep the pound, it will not accept its share of Britain’s debt.

Now I've no dog in the fight over Scottish independence, but it seems to me that the folks who are saying this hae git thair bums oot the windae. For starters, an independent Scotland would hardly need the British government's permission to go on using the pound sterling: it's hard to imagine how the U.K.-sans-Scotland could prevent Scottish citizens and banks from continuing to use the pound without resort to such Draconian legislation as would make U.S. money-laundering laws seem toothless in comparison. In both England and Scotland today, for example, it's perfectly legal for banks to offer foreign currency demand deposit accounts, not to mention other sorts of foreign currency services. Just how would a truncated British government contrive to prevent, and to justify preventing, an independent Scotland from continuing to enjoy the right to offer such services, while adding the pound sterling to the list of "foreign" currencies to which the right pertains?

If the Brits were really willing to play hardball, I suppose they could try placing an embargo on shipments of Bank of England currency to Scotland, like the one the U.S. imposed, as part of its effort to topple Manuel Noriega's government, on shipments of fresh Federal Reserve notes to Panama. But whereas Federal Reserve notes had long been the only form of paper currency known in Panama's dollarized economy, the Scots, as I've already observed, have long managed without Bank of England notes, and could easily continue doing so, especially once freed from British-imposed banking regulations. Settlements and redemptions of Scottish bank balances would presumably have to be done using London funds. But unless the Brits wanted to impose severe exchange controls, which besides being embarrassing would harm English citizens no less than Scottish ones, that option would pose no great difficulty.

And the Eurozone comparison? A load of mince! The reason the Eurozone is a mess is because the Euro isn't the German mark--that is, because it's a multinational currency supplied through a multinational central bank, rather than a national currency that happens to be employed by several nations. Creditors to profligate Eurozone nations, or to irresponsible Eurozone banks, have therefore had reason to hope that the ECB might ultimately come to their aid, and especially so since the Growth and Stability Pact became a dead letter in 2003. Creditors to dollarized countries, on the other hand, have no reason to count on Fed bailouts. Were either Ecuador or El Salvador unable to service its debt, or were a Panamanian bank teetering at the brink of insolvency, it would be of no concern to the Fed, or the FDIC, or any other U.S. government agency. Dollarized or not, Ecuador, El Salvador and Panama have to manage on their own.

And how have those countries been doing despite having no lender of last resort to turn to in a crisis? Just dandy, as a matter of fact. Indeed, it seems that not having a lender of last resort has proved to be something of a boon to dollarized economies, because, by doing away with, or at least greatly limiting, any prospect of a bailout, it has caused creditors and banks to behave more prudently.

If the experience of dollarized countries can be relied upon, Scotland, besides not needing England's permission to go on using the British pound, would be better off not having such permission. It stands to benefit, in other words, by steering clear of any formal arrangements that might appear to make the Bank of England, or any other non-Scottish authority, responsible in any way for the safety and soundness of Scottish bank liabilities or government securities. Let the Scots follow the example of Ecuador and El Salvador, and "poundize" unilaterally. If the British Parliament refuses to cooperate, so much the better. Who knows: Scotland could even end up with a banking system as good as the one it had before 1845, when Parliament, which knew almost as little about currency then as it does now, began to bugger it up.


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Four Old-Fashioned Monetarist Heresies

by George Selgin November 21st, 2013 10:30 am

1) For any given growth rate of aggregate spending, lower actual rates of price and wage inflation mean higher levels of output and employment;

2) For any given growth rate of aggregate spending, higher expected rates of price and wage inflation mean lower levels of output and employment;

3) An increase in the growth rate of aggregate spending is not the same as an increase in the equilibrium rate of inflation;

4) An increase in aggregate spending succeeds in raising the rate of inflation only in so far as it fails to increase output and employment.

I submit these old-fashioned monetarist heresies for the consideration of all those who think that an increased target rate of inflation will help us out of our present economic quagmire.


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Déjà-Vu All Over Again

by George Selgin November 20th, 2013 9:29 pm

I must say I'm puzzled and frustrated by the many clueless responses, like this one by Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, to those well-placed (mostly Keynesian) economists who have been insisting for some time that, with the unemployment rate still above 7%, and the latest (annual) inflation rate at just 1%, what the U.S. economy needs right now is a higher inflation target. Instead of 2%, they say, make it 4%, or even 6%. Those higher targets, they explain, can be be counted on to raise interest rates, rescuing us from the zero lower interest rate bound we've been stuck near, and thereby getting the unemployment rate back down to the Fed's current goal of 6.5%, if not lower.

Should we take their advice? Heck, yeah! After all, this isn't the first time that we've been in a situation like the present one. There was at least one other occasion when the U.S. economy, having been humming along nicely with the inflation rate of 2% and an unemployment rate between 5% and 6%, slid into a recession. Eventually the unemployment rate was 7%, the inflation rate was only 1%, and the federal funds rate was within a percentage point of the zero lower bound. Fortunately for the American public, some well-placed (mostly Keynesian) economists came to the rescue, by arguing that the way to get unemployment back down was to aim for a higher inflation rate: a rate of about 4% a year, they figured, should suffice to get the unemployment rate down to 4%--a much lower rate than anyone dares to hope for today.

I'm puzzled and frustrated because, that time around, the Fed took the experts' advice and it worked like a charm. The federal funds rate quickly achieved lift-off (within a year it had risen almost 100 basis points, from 1.17% to 2.15%). Before you could say "investment multiplier" the inflation and unemployment numbers were improving steadily. Within a few years inflation had reached 4%, and unemployment had declined to 4%--just as those (mostly Keynesian) experts had predicted.

So why are these crazy inflation hawks trying to prevent us from resorting again to a policy that worked such wonders in the past? Do they just love seeing all those millions of workers without jobs? Or is it simply that they don't care about jobs at all, just so long as inflation is low? Whatever the reason, they certainly come across like a bunch of callous dunderheads.

Oh: I forgot to say what past recession I've been referring to. It was the recession of 1960-61. The desired numbers were achieved by 1967. I can't remember exactly what happened after that, though I'm sure it all went exactly as those clever theorists intended.

P.S.: I can already imagine Ken Rogoff's response to this post. Something to the effect, no doubt, of "This time is different."

P.P.S. (November 20): Of course it is different this time--but not, I submit, in ways that clearly favor the doves. One particular difference that comes to mind is that, whereas in the 60s policymakers (implicitly) gambled that an increase in the actual rate of inflation would not lead to a corresponding increase in the expected rate (and, hence, in the rate of upward or leftward movement of short run aggregate and labor supply schedules), those calling for a 4-6% inflation target today actually see it as a means for achieving a like increase in expected inflation, and so are (implicitly) gambling that such an increase in expected inflation will not result in any corresponding increase in the rate of upward or leftward movement of short-run aggregate and labor supply schedules.

I leave it to my readers to decide for themselves whether the new wager is more or less rash than the old one.


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An Opinion of No Redeeming Value

by George Selgin November 11th, 2013 5:54 pm

An "idiot savant" is, according to my Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, "a mentally defective person who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field." So what's the term for an otherwise intelligent person who exhibits exceptional idiocy in some limited field? Well, I don't know the correct general term, assuming one exists. But for the particular instance I have in mind, "Josh Barro" will do nicely.

In his column for today's Business Insider, Mr. Barro, finding himself miffed by the concurrent decision of Delta Airlines and Hyatt Hotels to reduce the award values of the frequent customer credits he'd been accumulating from them, elects to complain about it.

But it appears that Barro had misgivings about employing the Business Insider's scarce column inches (and, presumably, getting paid for doing so) for what was, after all, mere personal kvetching of the sort best reserved for the poor sap on the next bar stool, and then only after at least one drink too many. So Barro decided that he'd better justify putting his little tirade into print by drawing from it a far-reaching economic lesson concerning...you guessed it: free banking!

Here, in full, is the lesson:

Libertarians often advocate for a system of "free banking" where monetary authority is shifted to private actors, who would theoretically be policed by consumers who demand stable currency values and protection from inflation. But as we can see, America already has a system of private monetary authorities, and they're an inflationary mess.

Airlines and hotel firms lock in loyal customers, only to pull the rug out from under them once they've run up significant asset balances. They cannot resist the urge to print. Can you imagine the disaster if we extended this system to ordinary currency.

Well, there you have it. No need to actually look into the long history of highly-reputable private currency suppliers in Scotland or Canada or the U.S. Suffolk System or a dozen other places. And so what if banks today have for some reason still not figured out that they might treat their customers' deposit credits like so many reward points, to be devalued at whim. ("So, Mr. Barro: you'd like to buy 100 Federal Reserve award dollars? No problem. That will be cost you $200 in deposit credits. What's that? Oh, I'm terribly sorry: didn't you receive our notice regarding the change in our award terms?) And never mind, finally, the actual record of the dollar's "devaluation," in terms either of goods generally or of gold--a record showing that only the Fed, among all past or present U.S. paper currency issuers, has ever managed to permanently devalue its paper with impunity.

Why bother, in short, referring to any facts at all, when all you need is a little analogy, served-up with a great dollop of unmerited self-assurance.


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For Walter

by George Selgin October 14th, 2013 10:48 pm

Grinder5

Dear Walter,

I meant to have this message to you appear with the other tributes Kurt posted on Saturday.  But thanks to a busy week in Madrid followed by a trip to Manhattan to tape a Stossel show segment, I sent it in a day late.  As it still hasn't been added to the others,* and I hate for you to think that I forgot your birthday, I'm posting it myself.

As I reflected upon how I first came to know you, I realized that had it not been for that encounter, my life would have been utterly different than it has been.  And I don’t merely mean that you changed my life in the sort of way that a Brazilian butterfly might change the weather in Texas.  Your influence was as certain as it was decisive.

It must have been in the late spring of 1981 that I came across that tiny ad in Reason.  It was from this place I’d never heard of called the Institute for Humane Studies, and it offered summer research grants.  I’d just begun working on a paper inspired by Hayek’s Denationalisation of Money, which I’d read earlier that spring, so I decided to apply.   I got the money, which was great.  But I also got to know you, which was far better.

You gave me all sorts of advice on the project, in letters and occasionally on the phone (of course we didn't have email back then).   It was all good, but I’m especially grateful for your having alerted me to the work of a UCLA grad student on the Scottish free banking episode.  His name was Larry White. You sent me drafts of Larry’s chapters, and I instantly became a Larry White fan.  Soon I was corresponding with him, asking all sorts of questions.  I remember one in particular.  It was, “Where do you plan to teach?”  I’d already decided to be his student.  That’s how I ended up at NYU.

Of course you and I stayed in touch, eventually meeting at the old IHS headquarters in Menlo Park—I think that was when Hans Eicholz showed up on his motorcycle, in full leather kit; he made me wonder whether I was tough enough to be a classical liberal!  When I’d finished my NYU coursework, you invited me to come back as an intern.  I leapt at the opportunity, thinking it would be a great one for writing my dissertation.

As it happened, from 9 to 5 you guys mostly had me slaving away on IHS stuff—planning seminars and organizing the contact list, among other things.  But from 7 until 9 every morning, and again from 6PM til midnight, I worked on “The Theory of Free Banking,” half the time at the (late, lamented) Printer’s Ink at Stanford, and half at the Prolific Oven in Palo Alto.  (Do you remember those half-moon cookies they had?  Mmm!)

Despite the hours the writing went better than I could have hoped.  And that was also mainly your doing, because every morning around 10:30 we walked over to Pete’s for coffee (Major Dickason’s—I still have the mug I bought there, white ceramic with red-brim), and then sat on a nearby park bench to discuss my progress over it.  So every idea I put into the dissertation—and plenty that, thank goodness, I didn’t put in—got a dry run.  If every doctoral student had someone like you to talk to, there’d be a lot fewer ABDs hanging around.

IHS and I moved to George Mason at the same time—I even got you guys to transport my little Honda Passport for me, only to end up ditching it after an Alexandria policeman politely informed me that Virginia, unlike California back then, insisted on my insuring it, acquiring a special motorcycle license, and wearing a helmet.  Miserable tyrants!   But at least I had a teaching job, which meant that, instead of just serving as a factotum at them, you actually let me lecture at IHS seminars.  I did that until 1995, when, along with all the old-guard faculty, I quit in protest over your leaving the Institute.  I know you didn’t want us to do that--the Institute always came first with you--but you shouldn’t blame us: so far as we were concerned, you were the Institute!   And though the place now has oodles more $$$ to toss around, I don’t imagine that it will ever replicate the  unique brand of intellectual inspiration and encouragement that you were able to give to students like me.  If classical liberal scholarship is thriving now, that’s in no small way thanks to you.

Happy Birthday,  ol’ buddy.   And many more.

_____________________

*It has since been added, minus the picture (October 15, 2013).


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Operation Twist-the-Truth

by George Selgin October 14th, 2013 2:07 pm

That's the title of a paper I'm writing for this year's Cato Monetary Conference (the subtitle is "How the Federal Reserve Misrepresents Monetary History"). For it, I'd be very grateful to anyone who can point me to examples (the more egregious the better) of untrue or misleading statements regarding U.S. monetary history in general, and the Fed's performance in particular, in official Fed publications or in lectures and speeches by Federal Reserve officials.

FedComic1


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