Time is a Money Value

Time is a Money Value

It's a phrase I've heard countless times from our company's oldest salesman. And he's absolutely right. We may not think about it, but we constantly talk about time in terms of money -- how we save it, spend it or waste it; how productive or unproductive we are with it. They've made movies about the value of time.
I wrote a post a couple weeks ago linking to an article on ZeroHedge about what the banking system might look like if we ended the Federal Reserve. Looking back, I jumped the gun. I never set the stage for why we should want to end the Federal Reserve banking system in the first place. It's about time, and it's about money.

The Federal Reserve fills a number of roles in the banking system, but the establishment of the Federal Funds Rate is one of the most important as far as the broader economy is concerned. That interest rate acts as a benchmark for how all the other banks calculate their interest rates. The piddly 0.25% interest you're making on your savings account is a function of the rate the Federal Reserve has established. That begs the question, "why does the Fed choose the rate it chooses?"
The Federal Reserve believes economic progress is driven by consumer spending. The (misguided) theory goes when people spend more money it creates more jobs because businesses have to keep up with demand. More jobs = more spending and so on. When consumer spending is down, like when the economy hit the brakes, the bankers believe they need to juice consumer spending, and by doing so they'll get the economy to rebound and start growing again. They attempt to create the juice by lowering the interest rate. In order to lower the interest rate the Federal Reserve increases the money supply; they create money. The resulting interest rate discourages people from saving and encourages spending and debt. But by messing with the interest rate, the bankers literally mess with the entire economy.

Generally speaking a job is created because it is deemed valuable to someone. That's why we don't employ millions of people digging holes and millions more coming behind to fill them in -- no one would voluntarily pay for such a service because there's no value in it. But we only know what's valuable and what isn't, and where and how to allocate scarce resources when there are effective price signals.
The interest rate is the most critical price signal. It reflects our overall time preference and therefore where resources should be allocated. An increasing interest rate signals a demand for capital, which incentivizes individuals to spend less on consumer goods and save more. More savings increases available capital to lend so that entrepreneurs and businesses can invest in capital goods. Capital goods (e.g., tools) make more efficient use of resources, improving worker productivity. Higher worker productivity, by the way, increases worker wages. As the demand for capital flattens or decreases, so too will the interest rate. That will incentivize individuals to save less and spend more on consumer goods (e.g., televisions).

As you can see, with the Federal Reserve controlling the interest rate, they effectively control the entire economy. But no group of even the smartest people on earth could possibly know the preferences of  millions or billions of people, so inevitably whatever rate they decide on is a guess at best. Additionally by continually increasing the money supply as they do the Federal Reserve causes prices to rise (see oil, gold, food, stocks, etc...) and influences how capital should be invested. A low interest rate hurts people who want to save their money and also causes investors to chase riskier investments because not only do the investors have to make a return, that return has to outpace the growth rate of the money supply. More than any other factor, low interest rates are to blame for the stock boom and bust of the late 90's/early 00's and the housing boom and bust. They're also to blame for the current economic malaise we find ourselves in now.

Low interest rates increase the demand for consumer goods, but production of consumer goods doesn't increase worker productivity. Combine that with increases in the price of essential goods (food, energy, etc...), and we're left with a terrible situation in which the bottom 95% is seeing their earning power continually decrease with no corresponding increase in their wages. The only people who are winning are the people who see the money first -- banks and politicians.

The interest rate must be set by the market, not by a central authority which has its own agenda. We need to end the Fed.