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'The Case Against Floating Currencies'

9:58 AM, Dec 20, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Manuel Hinds writes in the Wall Street Journal

It is ironic that the international monetary system of floating currencies is based on a theory called the "Optimal Currency Area" that celebrates the freedom of central banks to print money at will. The idea is that total freedom to create money would promote global progress and employment, smooth out business cycles, and prevent bubbles and their associated crises.

The irony is that the system is obviously suboptimal. It goes against the grain of globalization, the process that is defining our economic times. To accommodate the central bankers' wishes to control their own currencies, the floating system requires splitting the world's monetary markets into as many currency areas as there are countries.

This introduces a grave fragmentation in the international monetary markets precisely when all other markets, including the financial ones, are coming together into a single global market. It creates obstacles for the operation of the emerging global chains of production as well as for the international allocation of resources. Fragmentation also opens the door for currency and financial crises, turning capital flows, a naturally stabilizing force, into a destabilizing one through currency speculation.

Unbridled monetary printing led us to the collapse of Bretton Woods in the late 1960s and then into the stagflation of the 1970s and early 1980s. Then, after a brief recess that ended in the mid-1990s—the result of Paul Volcker's refusal to print money during his tenure as Federal Reserve chairman—we returned to trigger-happy monetary creation.

Whole thing here.

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