THE PURCHASING POWER OF MONEY, Its Determination and Relation to Credit, Interest and Crises

THE PURCHASING POWER OF MONEY, Its Determination and Relation to Credit, Interest and Crises

by Irving Fisher, Harry G. Brown
     
 

An excerpt from the beginning of the Preface:

THE purpose of this book is to set forth the principles determining the purchasing power of money and to apply those principles to the study of historical changes in that purchasing power, including in particular the recent change in "the cost of living," which has aroused world-wide discussion.

If the… See more details below

Overview

An excerpt from the beginning of the Preface:

THE purpose of this book is to set forth the principles determining the purchasing power of money and to apply those principles to the study of historical changes in that purchasing power, including in particular the recent change in "the cost of living," which has aroused world-wide discussion.

If the principles here advocated are correct, the purchasing power of money—or its reciprocal, the level of prices—depends exclusively on five definite factors: (1) the volume of money in circulation; (2) its velocity of circulation; (3) the volume of bank deposits subject to check; (4) its velocity; and (5) the volume of trade. Each of these five magnitudes is extremely definite, and their relation to the purchasing power of money is definitely expressed by an "equation of exchange." In my opinion, the branch of economics which treats of these five regulators of purchasing power ought to be recognized and ultimately will be recognized as an exact science, capable of precise formulation, demonstration, and statistical verification.

The main contentions of this book are at bottom simply a restatement and amplification of the old "quantity theory" of money. With certain corrections in the usual statements of that theory, it may still be called fundamentally sound. What has long been needed is a candid reëxamination and revision of that venerable theory rather than its repudiation.

Yet in the voluminous literature on money, there seems to be very little that approaches accurate formulation and rigorous demonstration,—whether theoretical or statistical.

In making this attempt at reconstruction, I have the satisfaction of finding myself for once a conservative rather than a radical in economic theory. It has seemed to me a scandal that academic economists have, through outside clamor, been led into disagreements over the fundamental propositions concerning money. This is due to the confusion in which the subject has been thrown by reason of the political controversies with which it has become entangled.

As some one has said, it would seem that even the theorems of Euclid would be challenged and doubted if they should be appealed to by one political party as against another. At any rate, since the "quantity theory" has become the subject of political dispute, it has lost prestige and has even come to be regarded by many as an exploded fallacy. The attempts by promoters of unsound money to make an improper use of the quantity theory—as in the first Bryan campaign—led many sound money men to the utter repudiation of the quantity theory. The consequence has been that, especially in America, the quantity theory needs to be reintroduced into general knowledge.

Besides aiming to set forth the principles affecting the purchasing power of money, this book aims to illustrate and verify those principles by historical facts and statistics. In particular, the recent rise in prices is examined in detail and traced to its several causes.

The study of the principles and facts concerning the purchasing power of money is of far more than academic interest. Such questions affect the welfare of every in habitant of the civilized world. At each turn of the tide of prices, millions of persons are benefited and other millions are injured.

For a hundred years the world has been suffering from periodic changes in the level of prices, producing alternate crises and depressions of trade. Only by knowledge, both of the principles and of the facts involved, can such fluctuations in future be prevented or mitigated, and only by such knowledge can the losses which they entail be avoided or reduced. It is not too much to say that the evils of a variable monetary standard are among the most serious economic evils with which civilization has to deal; and the practical problem of finding a solution of the difficulty is of international extent and importance. I have proposed, very tentatively, a remedy for the evils of monetary instability. But the time is not yet ripe for the acceptance of any working plan. What is at present most needed is a clear and general public understanding of principles and facts.

Toward such an end this book aims to contribute:—

1. A reconstruction of the quantity theory.
2. A discussion of the best form of index number.
3. Some mechanical methods of representing visually the determination of the level of prices.
4. A practical method of estimating the velocity of circulation of money.
5. The ascertainment statistically of the bank deposits in the United States which are subject to check, as distinct from "individual deposits," as usually published.
6. An improved statistical evaluation of the volume of trade, as well as of the remaining elements in the equation of exchange....

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015521719
Publisher:
OGB
Publication date:
10/20/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
6 MB

Related Subjects

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >