Monday, March 22, 2010

Free Banking, the Balance Sheet and Contract Law Approach

Chairman of the UK Cobden Centre, Toby Baxendale, published an excellent analysis of the fractional reserve vs. 100% reserve debate within the Austrian free banking school: "Free Banking, the Balance Sheet and Contract Law Approach" (March 15, 2010). Toby says, "The importance of this debate is that the School, whilst being the only School in economics to predict the crash, does not have a uniform policy prescription, or at least one policy prescription to fix our economy and put it on a sound and stable footing going forward."

Toby Baxendale is an entrepreneur who owns a company which is Britain’s largest fresh fish supplier to the catering trade. He also has active interests in several charities and is a Magistrate and an Ironman triathlete. Toby is also dedicated to furthering the teaching of the Austrian School of Economics and the revival of the Great Manchester School of Cobden and Bright. Concerning the former he has helped with its revival at the London School of Economics.

The Monetary Future previously covered this topic on June 30, 2009 with "Why Fractional Reserve Banking Is More Libertarian than the Gold Standard".

The Cobden Centre is an independent educational charity founded formally to undertake research into economic and political science and to disseminate the results thereof and to advance the education of the public in economic and political science.

Richard Cobden (1804-1865) was an entrepreneur and politician who stood for honest money, free trade and peace. He opposed war and profligate military adventurism. Cobden played a leading role in the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, to the general benefit of the working man. Richard Cobden believed that free trade would maximise general welfare and create bonds of peace between nations. He was widely recognized as a model European statesman and as “The International Man’. Cobden had this to say about money1:

"I hold all idea of regulating the currency to be an absurdity; the very terms of regulating the currency and managing the currency I look upon to be an absurdity; the currency should regulate itself; it must be regulated by the trade and commerce of the world; I would neither allow the Bank of England nor any private banks to have what is called the management of the currency…"

"I should never contemplate any remedial measure, which left to the discretion of individuals to regulate the amount of currency by any principle or standard whatever… I should be sorry to trust the Bank of England again, having violated their principle [the Palmer rule]; for I never trust the same parties twice on an affair of such magnitude (Q. 519, 520, 527)."

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