“On two occasions I have been asked, “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine the wrong figures, will the right answers come out? …I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.” – Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher.
Crunching Data to Fix Prices
The fundamental problem facing today’s economy is the flagrant contempt by governments the world over for the free exchange of goods and services and private stewardship of property. Perhaps it is power and control governments are after. Maybe they believe they are improving the economy and making the world a better place for all.
No one really knows for sure. But what is lucidly clear is the muddled disorder modern day economic policies have wrought upon us. You can hardly enter into a transaction without a cluster of intervention mucking with the price of payment.
Taxes, tariffs, wage laws, and subsidies. These all impact prices. But the main culprit affecting prices and trade are central bank interventions into money and credit markets. Relentless actions to control the economy by manipulating money and credit stand the price of everything else on end.
Certainly, government intervention into the U.S. economy is much looser than a Soviet style command and control system. But it does share a common refrain. Price fixing is central to its operation.
The Soviets, armed with their Five-Year Plans and the Theory of Productive Forces, deliberately directed how much wheat should be planted and how much a potato should cost. Conversely, the U.S. approach is mostly hidden from the short sighted view of the average lay person. The Federal Reserve allows the government to bypass the nuisance of tinkering with individual prices…though they still do it through subsidies and appropriations.
In short, the Federal Reserve, an unelected board of appointments, crunches economic data each month and draws a conclusion as to what price to fix the economy’s most important commodity – its money. By doing so all other prices in the economy must change – and distort – to adjust to the Fed’s market intervention.
To continue reading: Garbage In, Garbage Out