In his book The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar, Murray Rothbard predicted the current banking crisis (via Mises Economics Blog):

From The Case for a 100% Gold Dollar (hardcopy, html, and pdf):

At some point in the possibly near future, perhaps in the next recession and the next spate of bad bank loans, it might dawn upon the public that 1.5 percent is not very safe either, and that no such level can guard against the irresistible holocaust of the bank run. At that point, ignoring the usual mendacious assurances and soothing-syrup of the Establishment, the commercial banks might be plunged into their ultimate crisis. The United States authorities would then be faced with two stark choices. One would be to allow the entire banking system to collapse, along with virtually all the deposits and depositors in that system. Since, given the mind-set of American politicians, and their evident philosophy of “too big to fail,” it is certain that they would be forced to embrace the second alternative: massive, hyper-inflationary printing of enough cash to pay off all the bank liabilities. The redeposit of such cash in the banking system would bring about an immediate runaway inflation and a massive flight from the dollar.

Such a future scenario, once seemingly unthinkable, is now definitely on the horizon. Perhaps realization of this plight will lead to increased interest, not only in gold, but also in a 100 percent banking system grounded upon a revalued gold stock.

If an economist of the Austrian school of thought predicted the current state of affairs, doesn’t it make sense to consider his remedy? The remedy is a dollar tied to gold. Rothbard recommends something far more radical; a pure gold standard with no fractional reserve banking (100% reserve requirement). While that might not be achievable, there may be enough interest to move toward that goal with some less pure version of a gold standard. One option is to allow the Fed to target gold prices as their primary policy goal. They do not have to intervene in the gold market directly but can affect the price of gold indirecty through open market operations. It’s not perfect but it is a hell of a lot better than what we have.

Why not start a private bank that operates on the principals laid out by Rothbard? Could a bank make money if it used a 100% reserve requirement? How much of its reserves should it keep in gold? There may be an incredible opportunity to create an institution that is impervious to these crises.

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