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Affluent Christian Investor | October 3, 2023

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A History Of Deflation And Prosperity

A study of economic history reveals that anytime in the United States when there exists a price inflation of the overall increase of the price of goods and services there is destructive economic government intervention taking place.[1]  As Austrian economist Walter Block correctly writes, “The state, with its regulations…is the prime reason why factors of production[2] are less mobile than they would otherwise be.”[3]  An inflationary economy is absolutely unnecessary, and the very history of the American colonies and the United States illustrates it.

Whenever government intervenes in the market, it aggravates rather than settles the problems it has set out to solve.  This is a general economic law of government intervention.[4]

“Government interventions in the form of either expansionary fiscal or monetary policy during [a] depression stifles the recovery,” discloses Florida Gulf Coast University Professor of Economics, Patrick Newman, “if the market is required to reallocate resources, they must have been misallocated in the first place.”[5]

The prices of goods and services in the American colonies and the United States from 1665 until just after 1913, which coincided with the ratification of the 16th Amendment[6] and the establishment of the Federal Reserve,[7] were very stable[8] with only fluctuations during short periods[9] of conflict.  The 16th Amendment allowed the federal government to levy income tax which essentially gave Congress an open pocketbook to spend and borrow all that it wanted with the Federal Reserve acting as printer of currency and issuer of credit out of thin air.  This created a change in the spending habits of government which continued to accelerate throughout the 20th century, with the exception of Presidents Harding and Coolidge during the 1920s.

In fact, the expenditures as a percentage of GDP, of the United States, historically remained small at around 5 percent (with the exception being times of war)–ranging from 6 to 7 percent from 1870 to 1913.  During the post-1913 period to the present, the expenditures as a percent of GDP have continually increased significantly, reaching well over 25 percent by 1960;[10] and pushing towards 40 percent at present.

Therefore, one can conclude, from an American economic historical study, something very bad and damaging is laying siege upon the United States.

[1] Jim Huntzinger, 2016, Deflation:  The Road to Prosperity, (Indianapolis, IN: Lean Frontiers, Inc.).

[2] Factors of Production are land, labor, capital and technology.

[3] Jesus Huerta de Soto, June 22, 2012, “An Austrian Defense of the Euro,” Mises Daily, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), [].  Quote of Walter Block from Walter Block, 1999, “The Gold Standard: A Critique of Friedman, Mundell, Hayek and Greenspan from the Free Enterprise Perspective,” Managerial Finance Vol. 25, No. 5, pp. 15-33, from p. 21.

[4] Murray N. Rothbard, 2008 (originally published in 1963), America’s Great Depression, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), p. 229.

[5] Patrick Newman, December 5, 2015, “The Depression of 1920-1921:   A Credit Induced Boom and a Market Based Recovery?” Review of Austrian Economics, Forthcoming, p. 5 and 2 respectively, [].

[6] The 16th Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1913.  After over 3 years of ratification beginning with Alabama on August 10, 1909 and being ratified by Delaware on February 3, 1913.

[7] The Federal Reserve was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act.

[8] This means prices are stable overall – at the aggregate level – but not necessarily for a specific product or industry segment.  Of course, prices of specific products and services will fluctuate according to supply and demand; this is, due to natural market forces.  New product introductions, productivity improvements, discovery of natural resource deposits, and other market dynamics impact the costs, but the overall or aggregate costs in the economy remains stable or decreases.

[9] The Revolutionary War (1776-1783), War of 1812 (1812-1814), and Civil War (1861-1865).

[10] Dan Mitchell, July 14, 2012, “Why Western Europe Became Rich in the Past…and How it Can Regain Prosperity Today,” International Liberty, [], see graph, Burden of Government Used to be Small.



Originally published on Townhall Finance.


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