At barely five feet tall and armed only with a Ph.D in economics, Milton Friedman hardly had the look of a hero set out to save a nation. Yet, Professor Friedman predicted with near perfection the disastrous economic situation the United States is enduring today. He did this with a simple idea â€“ the Quantity Theory of Money.
MV = PQ. This is the simple mathematical formula which explains the death of American prosperity. Where M is the supply of money, V is the velocity that it circulates, P is prices, and Q is the quantity of transactions. Simply put, if the government prints more money, prices go up unless the number of transactions also increases. Too many dollars chasing too few goods, as they say, leads to inflation.
Enter Quantitative Easing, where the Federal Reserve buys government bonds with money that it printed specifically for the purpose of buying government bonds. This is the only way our government can run $1.6 trillion deficits â€“ which, according to President Obama we must do for the next ten years. The bond market would never absorb this many bonds at interest rates this low unless the Federal Reserve were rigging the market, and in recent months they have been purchasing roughly 70% of federal bonds being offered. The money raised is immediately spent by the federal government, sharply increasing both the supply and velocity of money. In 2000, there was approximately $4.7 trillion US Dollars in circulation, now there are nearly $10 trillion.
The quantity of transactions is going down. Donâ€™t take my word for it, either. Look around your neighborhood for all of the houses that have been for sale for months, all the vacant office space, and all the closed restaurants. These are all a component of the decline in the quantity of transactions. Fewer houses bought, fewer goods sold, fewer meals consumed.
Which leaves us with one last variable: Prices. With double the dollars in circulation, being spent by the government as quickly as they can print them, and with fewer transactions in the overall economy, prices must simply explode.
Pull out your old check records or bank statements, and see what you used to spend on groceries and gasoline, and compare them to what you are spending now. The increase is not the cause of supply problems, speculators or gouging: It is inflation, pure and simple.
The end result has been an inflationary depression, with increasing prices and high unemployment. What the country desperately needs is a sound dollar, stable prices and, of course, a sound fiscal policy based on a balanced budget. Thus, fiscal and monetary policies are inextricably linked, with our deficits leading to inflation and inflation making the deficits possible.
Left-wing ideologues like to repeat the old trope that in America the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Well, sad to say, it is true. But, it is not capitalism that is doing the pillaging; it is our own government. Rising prices means lowering standards of living. Despite the messianic rhetoric of Mr. Obama, it is his deficits, financed by Mr. Bernankeâ€™s printing press, that are robbing the pensioners and the working class of their standard of living.
The Republican that can best articulate this message, without being pulled into the weeds, will take the Presidencyâ€”or at least get my respect.