This was my first introduction to Rothbard’s writings and truthfully the re-beginning of my interest in monetary policy. The book starts out from how money would operate on an open market (the ideal) and works it’s way through the various reasons asserted to meddle with money. He finishes up with a historical account of the meddling and interventions that have go on over the centuries. This will bring the reader almost to the modern day, but I think you can easily extrapolate from where the book leaves off.
The beginning of the books also offers (without explicitly stating so) up some very basic economics concepts that the reader can easily apply to other subjects. Before people can really even start to discuss monetary policy, they have to have a fundamental understanding of WHAT money is used for in a market place. This is where Rothbard’s explanation truly shines as he explains the nature of barter and how a medium of exchange comes into existence (and to also add without the need of a central authority).
Simply put, people use money as an intermediary step in the acquisition of other goods/services. Moreover, money is needed to solve the issue of a “coincidences of wants” which occurs in society as the division of labor continues. For example, a hungry dentist would have find a farmer willing to part with food for dental work. With the use of money he is able to trade with dental work for dollars earned by the tradesman building structures around town, and the dentist in turn gives the money to the farmer who will later trade it for those things that he or she desires.
In examining the interventions that are used to manipulate and in many ways extort profits from the public at large, Rothbard lays out the various tactics in a systematic and precise form. At it’s very base, two parties seek to profit from intervention in the free use of money. Namely, these are the government itself and those protected entities i.e. Banks. Both of which use the might of the law to fleece the common man of his savings and standard of living. Debasement and seigniorage, minting privileges, legal tender laws, fractional reserve banking, and deposit denial are just some of the ways the wealth are extracted.
The best part about this book is that it is so short and well written that most people could read it in an afternoon. Literally it’s like about 110 pages long and the writing style while academic is easily understood without special reference books. I would easily give this 5 full stars.