On the So-Called ‘Failure’ of Free Banking in Australia : the Banking Crisis of 1893

The anti-free bankers sometimes rehash Hickson and Turner’s paper “Free banking gone awry: the Australian banking crisis of 1893” (2002) as a refutation of the theory of free banking while ignoring the many other successful episodes. In fact, some evidence provided by the paper contradicts their conclusion that the root cause of the 1893 crisis stems from the fact that “Australian banks opportunistically diverted dramatically increased deposits into overly risky assets without corresponding increases in equity capital”. Hickson and Turner ironically support the evidence brought by Selgin that the boom is caused “not by any increase in the bank money multiplier, but by injections of high-powered money from Austra-lian gold mines and from the British capital market”.

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The Tragedy of the Euro, Philipp Bagus

The Tradegy of the Euro, Philipp Bagus, Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Chapter 4

Why High Inflation Countries Wanted the Euro

Socialized Seigneuriage

Some countries, especially France, made gains at the expense of the Germans due to a socialization of seignorage wealth. [3] Seignorage are the net profits resulting from the use of the printing press. When a central bank produces more base money, it buys assets, many of which yield income. For instance, a central bank may buy a government bond with newly produced money. The net interest income resulting from the assets is seignorage and transmitted at the end of the year to the government. As a result of the introduction of the Euro, seignorage was socialized in the EMU. Central banks had to send interest revenues to the ECB. The ECB would remit its own profits at the end of the year. One could imagine that this would be a zero sum game. But it is not. The ECB remits profits to national central banks based not on the assets held by individual central banks, but rather based on the capital that each central bank holds in the ECB. This capital, in turn, reflects population and GDP and not the national central banks’ assets.

The Bundesbank, for instance, produced more base money in relation to its population and GDP than France, basically because the Deutschmark was an international reserve currency and was used in international transactions. The Bundesbank held more interest generating assets in relation to its population and GDP than France did. Consequently, the Bundesbank remitted relatively more interest revenues to the ECB than France, which were then redistributed to central banks based on population and GDP figures. While this scheme was disadvantageous for Germany, Austria, Spain and the Netherlands it was beneficial to France. Indeed, the Bundesbank profits remitted back to the German government fell after the introduction of the Euro. In the ten years before the single currency, the Bundesbank obtained euro 68.5 billion in profits. In the first ten years of the Euro the profit fell to euro 47.5 billion.

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