The Mises Institute is pleased to present this very beautiful hardbound edition of Rothbard's most famous monetary essay--the one that has influenced two generations of economists, investors, and business professionals. The Mises Institute has united this book with its natural complement: a detailed reform proposal for a 100 percent gold dollar. The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar was written a decade before the last vestiges of the gold standard were abolished. His unique plan for making the dollar sound again still holds up. Some people have said: Rothbard tells us what is wrong with money but not what to do about it. Well, by adding this essay, the problem and the answer are united in a comprehensive whole. After presenting the basics of money and banking theory, he traces the decline of the dollar from the 18th century to the present, and provides lucid critiques of central banking, New Deal monetary policy, Nixonian fiat money, and fixed exchange rates. He also provides a blueprint for a return to a 100 percent reserve gold standard. The book made huge theoretical advances. He was the first to prove that the government, and only the government, can destroy money on a mass scale, and he showed exactly how they go about this dirty deed. But just as importantly, it is beautifully written. He tells a thrilling story because he loves the subject so much. The passion that Murray feels for the topic comes through in the prose and transfers to the reader. Readers become excited about the subject, and tell others. Students tell professors. Some, like the great Ron Paul of Texas, have even run for political office after having read it. Rothbard shows precisely how banks create money out of thin air and how the central bank, backed by government power, allows them to get away with it. He shows how exchange rates and interest rates would work in a true free market. When it comes to describing the end of the gold standard, he is not content to describe the big trends. He names names and ferrets out all the interest groups involved. Since Rothbard's death, scholars have worked to assess his legacy, and many of them agree that this little book is one of his most important. Though it has sometimes been inauspiciously packaged and is surprisingly short, its argument took huge strides toward explaining that it is impossible to understand public affairs in our time without understanding money and its destruction.
“If you favor a free market, why in the world do you say that government should fix the price of gold?” And, “If you wish to tie the dollar to a commodity, why not a market basket of commodities instead of only gold?” These questions are often asked of the libertarian who favors a gold standard; but the very framing of the questions betrays a fundamental misconception of the nature of money and of the gold standard. For the crucial, implicit assumption of such questions—and of nearly all current thinking on the subject of money—is that “dollars” are an independent entity. If dollars are indeed properly things-in-themselves, to be bought, sold, and evaluated on the market, then it is surely true that “fixing the price of gold” in terms of dollars becomes simply an act of government intervention.”
Murray N. Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard (March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995) was an American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define capitalist libertarianism and popularized a form of free-market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism." Rothbard wrote over twenty books and is considered a centrally important figure in the American libertarian movement.
Building on the Austrian School's concept of spontaneous order, support for a free market in money production and condemnation of central planning, Rothbard advocated abolition of coercive government control of society and the economy. He considered the monopoly force of government the greatest danger to liberty and the long-term well-being of the populace, labeling the state as nothing but a "gang of thieves writ large"—the locus of the most immoral, grasping and unscrupulous individuals in any society.
Rothbard concluded that all services provided by monopoly governments could be provided more efficiently by the private sector. He viewed many regulations and laws ostensibly promulgated for the "public interest" as self-interested power grabs by scheming government bureaucrats engaging in dangerously unfettered self-aggrandizement, as they were not subject to market disciplines. Rothbard held that there were inefficiencies involved with government services and asserted that market disciplines would eliminate them, if the services could be provided by competition in the private sector.
Rothbard was equally condemning of state corporatism, criticizing many instances where business elites co-opted government's monopoly power so as to influence laws and regulatory policy in a manner benefiting them at the expense of their competitive rivals.
He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and "a compulsory monopoly of force" prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. He also considered central banking and fractional reserve banking under a monopoly fiat money system a form of state-sponsored, legalized financial fraud, antithetical to libertarian principles and ethics. Rothbard opposed military, political, and economic interventionism in the affairs of other nations.