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Paul-Martin Foss

Central Banking and War: Ron Paul’s ‘Swords Into Plowshares’ reviewed

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It’s July 17th, which means that Ron Paul’s new book “Swords Into Plowshares” is finally available. And what a book it is. Only the hardest of hearts and most closed of minds could read Dr. Paul’s new book and fail to be convinced of the futility of war. But what interests us the most is Dr. Paul’s discussion of the connection between central banking and war. Almost since the first banks were developed, bankers have funded government wars in exchange for receiving privileges from government. The relationship continues today, but very few politicians ever touch on it. So what does Dr. Paul have to say about central banking and warmaking?

Dr. Paul’s book starts off with personal reminiscences of life during times of war. It includes his personal experiences during World War II, his awareness of the possibility of being drafted to fight in Korea, and his eventual drafting into the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Included among his personal recollections are his comments on rationing during World War II. As a child, that was just the system that was in place, but his future understanding of Austrian economics allowed him to look back on that period of time and realize how detrimental to an economy war could be. In particular, it allowed Dr. Paul to continuously fight against those economists who repeat the lie that government spending in World War II pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. Au contraire – the government war effort did nothing for the common man, as the rationing system merely extended the misery of the Depression.

Of real interest too is Dr. Paul’s discussion of how his views developed over time. While his personal experiences always led him to be uncomfortable with the idea of war, his nascent antiwar impulses took a long time to manifest themselves fully.
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Greece: The Problem with Playing Hardball

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Greece and the European Central Bank are currently at loggerheads. The new Greek government wants to lighten its debt burden but the ECB won’t give the Greeks everything they want. Only two weeks into Syriza’s governance of Greece, the ECB has decided to play hardball, deciding that Greek government debt may no longer be used as collateral for monetary policy operations. While the ECB thought it was playing a strong hand with that move, it may end up coming back to haunt them.

That one move reduces the market demand for Greek debt. Yields will begin to rise, and the spread between Greek debt and other Eurozone countries’ securities will increase. Remember the great benefit of the euro to the peripheral European countries: all sovereign debt was treated equally by markets because it was assumed that the ECB would ensure that creditors would not suffer losses in the event that there were any difficulties with a Eurozone country servicing its debt. That enabled Italy, Spain, and Greece, among others, to borrow money at rates close to what Germany could, rates far lower than the peripheral countries had historically been able to reach.

Naturally they took advantage of that, overspent, and found themselves in difficulty. But the ECB’s bailout of Greece assuaged investors’ fears, and the spreads between peripheral debt and core Eurozone debt began to narrow again. With this latest move by the ECB, the risk is that the spread will widen with respect to Greek debt. If Greece no longer has the advantage of being able to borrow at low rates, then what good is the euro to them? Why not go back to the drachma? At least then they are in control of their own monetary policy.
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