Phi Beta Cons

Scholars Should Write Books That Last

Unfortunately, says economist James Grant, University of Texas history professor H. W. Brands has just written a book on our monetary system (Greenback Planet) that is more like the “glib, forgettable books” by journalists. Here is Grant’s Wall Street Journal review.

The problem is that Brands is all excited about fiat money — greenbacks — and never looks back on history to see what the results have been for nations that adopted irredeemable paper currencies. The results have never been good and have often been utterly ruinous. The ability to create money out of nothing does not increase prosperity (only the efficient use of limited resources does that), but it can undermine prosperity by altering people’s incentives and making it easier for politicians to increase the size and scope of the state.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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