Tag Archives: Legal tender laws

The Division of Labor Gives Rise to the Monetary Premium

2/8/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we find ourselves, along with the rest of the inhabitants of the Willamette Valley, enjoying what has been dubbed “Snowpocalypse 2014.”  The valley’s residents are now three days into this rare event and, while much in the way of normal transit has been disrupted (truly, it does not take much snow to paralyze Portland).  We do not have a solid measure of just how much snow has fallen and whether or not the event lives up to its name, what is unmistakable is that the snow is beautiful and is has revealed many a great sledding hill in our midst.

Some of our faithful readers will recall that back in December, we began exploring the Monetary Premium, the portion of an item’s relative value owed to the utility of an item as money (those new to The Mint can glance back at these essays for a thorough exploration of the definition of money).  In that essay, we presented the portion of the Monetary premium that arises as a result of an Imperial authority demanding tribute in said currency.  Logically, it may also be said that laws declaring what is legal tender or any law which dictates the monetary unit in which debts are to be cancelled in an economic zone will also give rise to the monetary premium.

Of Money and Metals by David MIntGiven the above example, it may appear that the primary drivers for an economic good to carry the monetary premium are related to imperial or government action.  However, this is decidedly not the case, for the ultimate origin of and primary factor contributing to the monetary premium of any economic good has nothing to do with the government or what is used as money, rather, the Monetary premium comes into being as a result of an increase in the division of labor.

For those not familiar with the term, the division of labor is what makes urban society possible.  While perhaps the most easily understood metaphor is that of the assembly line, where each individual worker dedicates him or herself to completing one facet of the production process, relying on their counterparts on either side of them to ensure that the chain of production, of which they form part of, remains unbroken.

Economic systems are, in a sense, a collection of interconnected assembly lines both large and small, with each member of the system dedicating themselves to a set of tasks; the more time and energy that each individual is allowed to dedicate to their task, the more efficient each individual generally becomes.  The fact that each individual dedicates an increased amount of time and energy to a specific task gives rise for other members of society to pitch in and specialize in tasks that others cannot do for themselves given the specific scope of their labors.

The division of labor, if allowed to rise and sort itself out on its own, is generally good for economic output, as increased efficiencies translate into increased outputs.  However, as individuals increasingly specialize in certain tasks, they increasingly rely upon other members of society to fulfill their need.  As logic would follow that the increased division of labor does not allow much time for barter transactions, an increase in the division of labor always gives rise to the need for a monetary premium to both emerge and expand, attaching itself not only to traditional transmitters but giving rise to new ones as well.

Once the monetary premium expands, it gives rise to an increase in the division of labor, and in this way the dynamic between the two drives real economic growth.

Limitations on the Division of Labor and Monetary Premium

After reading the above, it should be clear that both the division of labor and the monetary premium are generally good for humankind, and that both factors driving real economic growth, if left to operate unhindered would eventually run up against and adapt to the limitations of the natural environment.

However, today, circa 2014, both the division of labor and monetary premium are hindered not by natural limitations, but by limitations placed upon them by well meaning legislators.  While all legislation tends to have either a direct or indirect effect on economic activity, there are two kinds that are particularly harmful to economic growth as they cut off the lifeblood of economic expansion:  The dual expansion of the division of labor and the monetary premium.

The first are laws dealing with minimum wages.  While minimum wages laws strive to guarantee a living wage for all members of society, they never achieve this goal and, in the process, serve to directly hinder the expansion of the division of labor when actual wage rates for certain activities are below the minimum wage rate, and serve no purpose when wage rates are above it.

The second set of laws are those referenced above; legal tender laws.  While Legal tender laws strive to codify what serves as money in a society, they invariably serve to direct an inordinate amount of the monetary premium into instruments that are not worthy of serving as money on a grand scale.  In the process, they serve as a severe limitation on what can carry the monetary premium and, by extension, the expansion of the monetary premium and the division of labor.

We all suffer to some degree due to manmade hindrances to the expansion of either the monetary premium or the division of labor; however, it is those farthest from monetary spigots, as defined by legal tender laws, who suffer the most.  In order for peace and prosperity to accrue to the greatest possible number of persons, it is critical that we grasp the importance of encouraging the division of labor to operate unhindered.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for February 8, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.26
Oil Price per Barrel:  $99.88

Corn Price per Bushel:  $4.44
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.68%
Mt Gox Bitcoin price in US:  $680.00
FED Target Rate:  0.07%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,267

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  6.6%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  15,794
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,752,800,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $10,968,700,000,000

Of Money and Metals, Part V – Free Money Refutes Gresham’s Law

1/31/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

 

{Editor”s note: The following is the long awaited conclusion of the series “Of Money and Metals.”  Please click here to view the Part IPart II, Part III, and Part IV

 

Free money also renders null and void any arguments as to what constitutes good or bad money, for this determination will be made on a daily basis by producers and consumers rather than a monetary authority who is acting on mere theory with severely limited data.

 

Absent the government declaration of what is money and how much said “money” is worth, there is no longer bad money driving out good money, as Gresham’s Law so perceptively observes.  What remains, then, as the ultimate determinant of what is money and how much it is worth are the two parties to a transaction, who are generally in the best position to determine such matters.

 

“But this would destroy exchange as we know it!” comes the cry from apologists of legal tender laws.  “No one will know what anything is worth, let alone how to pay for it!”

 

On the contrary, the free operation of the money supply would, by necessity, cause everyone engaging in exchange to be acutely aware of both what constitutes money and how much it is worth.  It is legal tender laws which serve to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes as to the true value of money.

 

When seen through a different lens, that of the free operation of the money supply, the absurdity of legal tender laws becomes clear.  Commodity (free) money is unhindered by the artificial restraint of existing debts and is constrained only by the productive will of society.  Commodity (free) money is free to accurately reflect the price of goods and services in light of the perceived supply and productive capacity of both goods being exchanged, that being offered in exchange and that offered in payment as money.

 

Money, as most people instinctively understand it, is simply an ordinary good whose utility and value are greatly enhanced by its wide acceptance in trade.  If one strives to remove the “cost” of producing money, as Adam Smith so nobly aspired to do, it is clear that the best way to do this is to allow the good which is acting as money to be produced in the most efficient way by the greatest number of artisans as are necessary to fulfill the present demand for money.

 

But how would all of these artisans, blindly creating all of this commodity money, know when to stop producing were it not for legal tender laws?

 

Here, there is no risk of oversimplifying the answer, for the answer is painfully simple.  As persons competing in the free market who have chosen to produce money, they are likely to be the first to know when there is too much money in circulation, for their orders for new money will uncannily drop when the economy has enough money to function efficiently.

 

Further, any commodity that is only marginally used in the production of money will quickly and smoothly have its supply directed to other, more efficient uses as the incentive (realized margin) to use it as money is incrementally reduced as supply begins to overtake demand.  Each producer is therefore free to choose his or her exit point.

 

Take the case of copper.  If copper becomes monetized by the free will of the participants in the economy, it stands to reason that it could be demonetized by the same free market operation.  Should economic activity slow to the point where the pace of saving and exchange no longer calls for copper to assume a role as money, as copper is demonetized those holding copper will find it more efficient to melt the copper that they have in monetary form and sell it as a consumer good.

 

European Jeton from 1598 courtesy of Wikipedia.org

 

The process of demonetization is simply a matter or free choice when something occurring in nature is used as money.  It first moves to the fringes of use as money, as a Jeton or modern day casino chip is used in place of money.  In time, the material will be demonetized completely.

 

Debt, when used as money, enjoys no such elasticity.  By necessity, when debt is forced into a role as money, it causes an unnatural proliferation of credit, so that when the inverse of Gresham’s law begins to operate (good credits push bad credits out of circulation) the unnatural restriction on the money supply assures that even the best of credits will go bad, and the money supply along with them.

 

When debt is demonetized, usually by force, the result is more often than not a severe hyperinflation followed by war.

 

Legal tender laws, such as the modern laws which declare that debt is money, are futile at best and generally destructive.  They do, however, permit a small group to reap the monetary margin that the artificial monopoly on money creation allows them for at time.

 

Accepting that an inanimate object is no longer worth what one thought it was can be disappointing, but at least one still has said inanimate object.  In the case of debt, accepting that someone cannot deliver what they promised tends to create feelings of resentment and remorse which, depending upon the size of the failure, can lead to violence.

 

Soon, the world will learn that using debt as money is a dangerous violation of the very laws of nature.  As with any violation of natural law, the consequences may be withheld for a time, but they are never avoided.  The longer they are artificially withheld, the more swiftly and severely the consequences will be meted out when they can no longer be repressed.

 

For no man, or group of men, regardless of their number, clairvoyance, or special powers they profess to have, can suspend or accelerate the operation of natural law.  The Creator alone reserves that power for himself.

 

There is a perfect balance in God’s creation.  Yin and yang, male and female, mercy and justice, heat cold, money and debt.  Calling one extreme the by the name of other is futile and leads only to confusion and destruction.

 

It is only a matter of time.

 

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

 

Stay Fresh!

 

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

 

Key Indicators for January 31, 2012

 

Copper Price per Lb: $3.79
Oil Price per Barrel:  $98.48

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.39  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.80%

FED Target Rate:  0.09%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,737 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  1.50%
Unemployment Rate:  8.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,633  

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,152,800,000,000 RED ALERT!!!  THE ANIMALS ARE LEAVING THE ZOO!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,782,800,000,000 YIKES UP $1 Trillion in one year!!!!!!!