Reply To: Monetary Theory


Hi John,

Sorry for the delayed response, I forgot to set up my profile here.

Let me first point you to some general resources (all free) that I think you are going to want to digest (over time), because they will give you a bigger picture. It sounds like you are misunderstanding a few critical concepts and that’s confusing you on particular applications.

This YouTube lecture explains banking. Make sure you watch the part where I go through a bank’s balance sheet.

In this book, my co-author and tried to explain fractional reserve banking as simply as possible, but without sacrificing rigor.
Pay particular attention to chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, and 16. If you take the time to read those chapters (most are pretty short), you will probably have just about all of your questions answered.

Then if you *really* want to step up your game, you can check out my study guide to Mises’ Theory of Money & Credit:
However, that’s much harder than the first two things I said.

Now, for quick answers to your specific questions:

1) You need to distinguish between “loan banking” and “deposit banking.” We cover that thoroughly in *How Privatized Banking Really Works* (linked above). Short answer: Even with 100% reserves, a bank could still act as a credit intermediary. It could have time deposits, where the depositor knows he can’t touch his money for a certain period. Or, the bank could sell Certificates of Deposit (CDs) yielding a certain interest rate, in order to raise funds that it lends out to borrowers.

In contrast for true demand deposits (checking accounts), the bank would have to charge a fee to the owner, for the services the bank provides. This is because the bank can’t lend out that money.

3) No, a 100% reserve bank isn’t susceptible to a bank run.

4) Well, even during the Great Depression, when thousands of banks went down, it wasn’t merely “contagion” or “panic.” I point out in my book on the Great Depression
…that the banks subject to runs typically were poorly run, and so the public had good reason to think their money was in jeopardy.

Having said that, by its very nature fractional reserve banking makes a bank susceptible to a run.

5) Central banks don’t cause boom-bust cycles in the Austrian view, it’s more accurate to say the creation of unbacked credit does. However, in practice central banks exacerbate the problems by weakening the market’s normal defense/limitation on the issuance of new credit.
Try this video around 12:00, I soon start talking about banking:

6) I haven’t really thought about it, but note in this paper they use “standard” metrics and argue that empirically the Fed has failed:

7) Look, in your personal life, if someone writes you a personal check for $200, do you walk around with the check for a few months? Probably not. You probably deposit that into your bank asap.

By the same token, if you get paid by a paper note issued by a bank that you aren’t familiar with, you probably aren’t going to hold onto that for months. You are going to quickly deposit it with your bank (or go to a branch of the bank that issued the note and turn it into gold).