Category Archives: MONEY

Money – the Universal Religion

How’s That Savings Account Doing?

American Express National Bank Personal Savings @ 1.7% Tops the list 1 Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts of January 2020

My 60 year Boomer Bank account currently pays 0.15% APY on balances of $10,000 or more. Even if I switched to American Express at 1.7% I come up short.

The annual inflation rate for the United States is 2.1% for the 12 months ended November 2019, compared to 1.8% previously, according to U.S. Labor Department data published December 11, 2019.


The Individual Sovereignty Solution

The Doug Casey’s prophecy on the Phil Donahue Show 1980/1981

In 1980 Gold was $594.90 ; 1981 $400; the Dow Jones around 3,000; bank interest rate in 1970 7% after Nixon closed the Gold window August 1971 bank savings account interest rate jumped to 12% in 1980.

Doug Casey the ACE of Spades: The Card of AMBITION now 73 and living in Estancia de Cafayate in Salta ProvinceArgentina.[3 goes by the moniker “International Man” and continues to practice what he preached on the 1981 Phil Donahue Show. Here he talks about the financial path to Individual Sovereignty.

After four years of living here, I like Antalya, Turkey

The Turkey Gold Rush

ISTANBUL, July 4 (Reuters) – For centuries, Turks have flocked to the jewelry shops of Istanbul’s labyrinthine Grand Bazaar to trade their gold – ornaments handed down through their families over generations, or bars stashed under mattresses as savings. But in recent months the shops have a new and unexpected competitor: banks.
The country’s commercial banks are pouring their technical expertise and marketing resources into offering their customers gold deposit accounts. Customers hand their gold to a bank and can make withdrawals from their accounts in gold bars or the lira currency; the accounts offer interest rates that are substantially lower than those on normal time deposits.
Gold deposit accounts have been growing around the world, but Turkey’s boom has made it a leader in the trend. 

Why Turkey Jumped from 20th to #7

In terms of the data overall, among 163 countries Turkey was ranked seventh-best for expats, after Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, and Australia.

The European Union wouldn’t let Turkey in ‘elhamdulillah’ meaning we ruled out Euro Greek Cyprus for the cheap seats in Turkish Lira Antalya. Until 2018 a dollar would buy 7/8ths of a Euro or 3.67 Liras,

Cyprus Tomato (1 lb) 0.84 € = $0.93 Antalya Tomato (1 lb) 2.00 TL = $0.34

That 44% currency devaluation has brought investors from Europe, Russia and Mideast to own more than half of the real estate in Antalya. However, the coming financial Apocalypse has encouraged the locals as well as resident expats open gold bank accounts.

The Dollar Milkshake Theory

Brent Johnson is a member of the Real Vision Finance guru cabal. Real Vision was started in 2014 by Raoul Pal (Argentinian). Grant Williams and Kyle Bass (all things China) are two other ‘don’t miss’ informants.

No sooner had I submitted this analysis than President Erdoğan of Turkey made the following remarks in response to a currency crisis in his country: “Those who keep dollar or euro currency under their mattresses should come and turn them into liras or gold.”  Jim Rickards 

First day back home I went to see my July 2nd HSBC Turkish banker. The last time I had a face to face conversation with an American banker was with Tommy Schilling at our weekly Follett Lions club luncheons, catered by Grandpa’s quick stop.

I have spent November and 3/4 ths of December telling everybody on two cruise ships, as well as friends & family in Houston, Monterey, Sonoma and Iowa City, that Turkey is the only country in the world with Gold bank accounts.

Ms July 2nd advised me that now was a good time to buy dollars with gold since $$ were going up against the Lira. Last year, her HSBC Istanbul HQ currency account transfer tip garnered $145 on the swap.

The Federal Reserve along with the other Central Banks have created a giant Fiat currency milk shake. The United States uses the straw to return the contents home in dollars.

You can play the FX market in Euros, Pounds, Dollars, Danish Krone, Gold or whatever fiat currency you want in your account. However, I used Toastmasters Speech 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids to share with Ms July 2nd “The Dollar MilkShake Theory.”

Be Your Own Central Banker Come to Turkey

For centuries, Turks have flocked to the jewelry shops of Istanbul’s labyrinthine Grand Bazaar to trade their gold – ornaments handed down through their families over generations, or bars stashed under mattresses as savings. photo Michelle Ross/Jane Kennedy

Gold is big business in Turkey, for cultural reasons and also because of the country’s experience with bouts of high inflation over the past century. The metal is traditionally given as a gift at weddings and circumcision ceremonies. Turkey’s gold demand, ranks as fifth in the world for jewelry and eighth for retail investment, mostly behind countries with much bigger populations such as India, China and the United States.


Turkey’s favorite Ottoman Empire Gold coin 1255 model Content: 0.2127 troy oz gold     1 Gram Gold Price = $42.50 USD  1 Ounce Gold Price = $1,321.88 USD

Turkey Gold 100 Kurush Coins are throwbacks to the glory days of the mighty Ottoman Empire. There was a several centuries long day an age where this ultimate Muslim superpower represented the single greatest empire in either Europe or the Middle East. At one point, it effectively stretched from North Central Africa through Libya and Egypt, most of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Greece, Cyprus, and the Balkans all the way up to the very gates of Vienna in Austria. Until the empire’s forced breakup for being on the wrong side of the fight in World War I, it still covered Turkey and much of the Middle East even in its terminal days as the so-called “sick old man of Europe.”

Reuters JULY 4, 2012: But in recent months the jewelry shops have a new and unexpected competitor: banks. The country’s commercial banks are pouring their technical expertise and marketing resources into offering their customers gold deposit accounts.

In Turkey you can have a bank account in Turkish lira, Euro‘s, USD dollars and Gold. On April 1st this year the Basel III established Gold as a risk free banking asset, even so, the only option for the Deplorables is stuffing their air-mattress with Gold coins.

Turkish Bank Account Options

LiraEuroUSDGold
20152788986118928.35gm 1 OZ
20163103971106228.35gm 1 OZ
201740631095115228.35gm 1 OZ
201849331092130328.35gm 1 OZ
2019LiraEuroUSDGold
Jan67871118128028.35gm 1 OZ
Feb68461151132128.35gm 1 OZ
Mar69621135128728.35gm 1 OZ
Apr72411131129228.35gm 1 OZ
May76581144128028.35gm 1 OZ
Jun76191167130528.35gm 1 OZ

When we moved here March 2015, we were required to open a bank account showing $6,000 on deposit, in order to receive our one year resident permit. We operated for 2015 with both dollar and Lira accounts. In 2016 I learned you could also open a Euro account, so why not! Then this year I heard from the Jim Rickards YouTube grapevine, that Turkey was the only country in the world with gold denominated bank accounts. We were living in Switzerland and didn’t know it.

Money is gold, and nothing else.” JP Morgan

So gold deposit accounts are measured in grams and how many grams you have is determined by what currency you exchange for the gold. The Turks pay in Lira while expats use their home country source of funds, Euro for the Europeans, British Pound for the Royals and Buck$ for us.

Don’t got no real estate, diamonds, Stocks & Bonds or T-Bills but we’ve got an ounce of gold in a Turkish bank account.

In our example every month our 28.35 gram = 1 ounce deposit, goes up or down based on the spot gold price $1280 January 2019 at are open. When February jumped to $1321, I patted myself on my wallet for having $41 more than when I started. However, March roared in at $1287/oz putting me up just $7 and by May, I was back to scratch at $1280.

I forgot the purpose, the reason for opening the gold account in the first place: “Money is gold, and nothing else,” euros, dollars, lira, pounds, yen, yuan etc. are not real money. Every country’s Central Bank is losing money, some more than others. In 2015 the Turks could buy an ounce of gold for only 2,788 lira, Euro countries 980 euros and Americans 1,189 dollars. So when I got my June 2019 statement $1,305 – $1,189 (2015) = $116 less purchasing power since 2015 or a negative 2.4 interest rate.

Got married in 1973, designed two gold, $90.oz, wedding bands. Those ninety buck rings in June 2019 are worth $1,305. Damn, where are those 46 year-old heirlooms now?

Look, There’s a White Guy on the Roof!

On a new homes sales interview in Amarillo, my prospective employer was driving  us through his subdivision, when I spotted this white guy working on the roof of a home under construction. In Houston, in my four years and 100+ sales of new homes, I never, ever saw a white guy on a roof. My fellow sales counselors were white, black and a lonely Puerto Rican. The construction managers were white college graduates with a sprinkling of blacks. The people who built the homes from the ground up were Mexican illegals working for legal Salvadorian/Mexican owners.  Immigration and Naturalization Service, the precursor to ICE would periodically raid a subdivision and scatter the entire workforce – I guess Amarillo was a sanctuary city for white construction workers.

I talked with a cement finisher who had been in Texas for over six years, still making only $5.00/hr. I bribed Abundio Laredo away from his 11 hours a day, six days and $500 a week  meat cutter job at the Chinese restaurant, to milk our cows and goats for $15.00/hr. And yes, there is no way to make an illegal, legal in the USA – “There is no controlling legal authority ….” – Al Gore

FREE THE MINIMUM WAGE SLAVES

Walmart employs an astounding 2.1 million people.  In the United States alone, the company employs 1.4 million people.  This is a staggering 1% of the U.S.’s 140 million working population.

Walmart, in other words, matters. Its payrolls, and its pay, move the needle. And right now, many people argue, Walmart is very much part of the problem.

The average Walmart “associate,” Wake Up Walmart reports, makes $11.75 an hour. That’s $20,744 per year. Those wages are slightly below the national average for retail employees, which is $12.04 an hour. They also produce annual earnings that, in a one-earner household, are below the $22,000 poverty line.

On the other hand, these wages are far above minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. They also aren’t THAT FAR below the national retail average (only 2.5% below). In a two-earner household, moreover, these wages would produce a household income of $40,000+, which, in some areas of the country, is comfortably middle-class.  Walmart offers benefits to some of its employees, as well as store discounts and profit-sharing plans.

Small businesses are Big business

Employees per establishment in the U.S. coffee and snack shops industry from 2002 to 2016 was 9.51There are roughly 130 million U.S. workers employed by small businesses.

  • Represent more than 99.7% of all employers
  • Employ half of all private-sector workers and 39% of workers in high-tech jobs
  • Provide 60% to 80% of the net new jobs annually
  • Pay 44.3% of total U.S. private payroll
  • Produce more than 50% of non-farm private gross domestic product, or a GDP of roughly $6 trillion
  • 3% are franchises

Source: SBA, “Small Business by the Numbers,” June 2004

Prior to 1950 eighty percent of the population was self-employed – down on the farm. Today 98% live in urban areas that employ 90 million in the service sector and only 12 million in manufacturing. Adam Smith divided the employment world into Farmers-Merchants-Manufacturers. Farmers were the most important because they were the only ones who produced more than they consumed – it’s the one, two, three baby analogy. If a nation’s birthrate falls below 2.3, without immigration they’ll eventually go out of business.

Farmers, as long as they take care of the soil, can make 3 babies (grow more foodstuffs than they consume) every year to infinity. Merchants (Service Sector) don’t make any babies and Manufacturers make orphans that can’t reproduce. So, Houston what we have here is a big, big problem.

Family business farming before 1950

Small businesses (really family businesses, Sam Walton might have had 9.51 employees in his Dime Store) have always represented 99.7% of all employers, only by the end of WWII 80% of them still lived in the country.  Worse yet, now the Merchants & Manufacturers have occupied rural America. In 1950 there were 12 million farmers, each raising an average of 200 pigs. Today there are 200 farmers each raising 2 million pigs.

THE CIVIL WAR WAS ABOUT SLAVE WAGES

Henry Ford gave everybody $5.00/day instead of the standard two-twenty-five, “so his employees could afford to buy a car.” WRONG! Ford didn’t raise wages so that his workers could afford his cars. What happened is that he hired and then lost some 52,000 workers a year in order to have a stable workforce of 14,000. This obviously had vast costs in trying to hire and then train all of these workers: as well as the costs when they walked off the assembly line disrupting production. The doubling of wages to $5 a day reduced those costs by more than the extra pay cost him. Which is why he did it. Ford had to hire 52,000 a year to keep 14,000 for a turnover of 370%. Retailers today range from 150-300% turnover. Each entry level new hire costs at least $2,000 to replace the dear departed. What really hurts is how much a May 25, 2014 five-dollar bill is worth today, $118.26 to be exact. Those poor turds were running in off the farm to get $14.72 an hour on the assembly line.

The biggest difference between workers in RTW and non-RTW states is the fact that workers in non-RTW states are more than twice as likely (2.4 times) to be in a union or protected by a union contract. Average hourly wages, the primary variable of interest, are 15.8 percent higher in non-RTW states ($23.93 in non-RTW states versus $20.66 in RTW states). Median wages are 16.6 percent higher in non-RTW states ($18.40 vs. $15.79).

COOL SLAVES

So, the rest of the wage story of America had the unions driving manufacturing from the rust belt to the sun belt. The three or four dollars an hour wage difference didn’t hold a candle to 15 cents an hour in Mexico and of course there was China. Which came first Wal-Mart or China. All recovering Yankees that weren’t nailed down moved to Atlanta, Houston & Dallas. After 2008 nobody but nobody could get a job for more than the $7.25/hr. MINIMUM and Wal-Mart became the employer of last resort.

DEFINITELY NOT COOL SLAVES

As a 14-month veteran of Richmond-Rosenberg’s Wal-Mart Tire, Lube, Express it takes a lot of humility and quasi-permanent damage to your self-esteem to work at Wal-Mart. I cannot list a single redeeming feature; on the contrary working at Wal-Mart is hazardous to your mental health.

THE SOLUTION

Legalize Immigration

There are 20 million plus, not 11 million, Abundio’s working for real slave wages because the slave labor supply to nationalized ratio is at least three times greater than when Lincoln ran the show. Build the Wall – issue federal photo ID cards – write the law

 Eliminate All Subsidies and Tariffs

New Zealand did it 20 years ago and agriculture thrived. Absolutely no adverse consequences, only innovation and the benefits of a healthier food supply.

Reset World Reserve Currency to Gold Standard

US trade deficits were flat until Tricky Dick pulled the plug on Gold. Our 1998, 80 cents a pound goats are now worth $2.50/lb. According to the CPI calculator 80 centavos in ’98 is worth $1.25 in 2018, giving the self-employed goat farmer a $1.25/lb wage increase or shall we say, profit.

Thinking Outside the Country

Thinking Outside the Country

My Backyard – Antalya, Turkey 2015 to Present

Where ever an American Expat or an expat from any country resides outside his home nation they instantly become street smart economists. I had never been west of Chicago until the US Marine Corps gave me a 12 month all expenses paid tour of Japan,  the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Teg, we’re not in Cincy anymore and why don’t you find a job overseas, when you get out?

Edificio Bretagne 949 Avenida Higeninopolis, Sao Paulo, Brasil 1975 – 1978

The Lobby was the best & when the elevator broke the 16th floor was a long ways to go

Good idea, I followed my bliss, first to Brazil  where I tried to live an American lifestyle on a beer budget. However, Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu, boat trip down the Amazon were worth the stay.

Ismailia, Egypt rented villa one block from Suez canal 1985-86

My second opportunity to think outside the country was a short 13 month stay in Egypt  as a free-lancer (on-the-economy) begging for consultant crumbs from the US Agency for International Development. Got to visit all 45 agricultural research stations from Asawan to Alexandria, took sailing lessons on the Nile and the Aswan to Luxor Nile cruise. Got to see how the civilian side of the Federal government works or doesn’t.

Zhengzhou, China 2008 to 2014 ESL teacher

After 2008 I found out that I couldn’t afford to live my ‘bliss’ lifestyle any place in the US on Social Security and my dinky pension. I exercised my one marketable job skill – speaking English with an American accent – seven years in Mainland China.

Pontificating to our Kiwi friends, overlooking Bohai Bay, in Yantai, Shandong (home of Confucius) China. 2014 -2015

My good looking partner with her JD Law creds, became disenchanted with being a shill for Chinese ESL training schools so we began looking for greener, affordable pastures. India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea were ruled out in favor of Antalya, Turkey, San Diego weather at one third the US cost of living.

At the base of those mountains Alexander the Great wintered his boats in 333 BC

In China we lived on wages, now we live on my SSA monthly check and save 30% of that, if we avoid Euro-Dollar countries. When I bragged to a Bostonian lady that we paid $300 for a 3 bed 1.5 bath apartment one block from the Mediterranean, she was impressed. Due to the currency exchange rate of the USD/TRY  we started off at $327 in March 2014.  Today, the US/Turkey political relationship has knocked our rent back to $250.

It cost us $20,000 to move from China and establish residency in Turkey.

What if the coming global financial Armageddon puts my pension on the Venezuela payment plan? That’s the problem in not only My Backyard but in 98% of the neighborhoods in the world. There are articles of living in Portugal or Ecuador for 30 years on $200,000, but what if your $200K turns into Zimbabwe bucks overnight?

My Backyard Strategy: Stay in Antalya, rent don’t own, bank accounts in TRY, EUR and USD, 5-10% savings in Gold.

The Race to the Bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid

I know,  you know, We all know that this is not going to end well. I want to know how to survive the Apocalypse without buying gold or Bitcoin, investing in real estate or the stock market because those things require money. I know, you know and we all know that at least 80% of us don’t have any.

Doug Casey’s 1980 interview on Phil Donahue foretold what Americans should’ve done, but that was way back then, when I was dreaming about getting rich. Then, I read that only 2% of the population achieved Financial Independence the remaining 98 per cent were dependent on government support totally or in part. I was still struggling to be Debt Free, let alone assemble an investment income.

The Race to the Bottom of the Pyramid

Now, the Boomers are just hoping they can make it to 62, the X’ers worry about the robots taking over all the jobs at Wal-Mart, the employer of last resort, while the Millennials are plotting the ‘American Spring’ on their smart phones. Doug Casey espouses 1) developing marketable job skills 2) leaving the country 3) opening a bank account in Switzerland or Singapore.

  1. developing marketable job skills: find your genius, your uniqueness, your Dharma and become an entrepreneur 
  2. leaving the country: if you’re under 30 go to Africa, over 30 South America Argentina, maybe Chile or Columbia. 
  3. opening a bank account in Switzerland or Singapore:  the government knows where you keep the money.  

Personal Experience: Brazil ’75-’78 I’d go to Argentina; Egypt ’85-’86 revisited in 2015 and Ethiopia 2013, if I was 30 I’d  go to the interior nations e.g.  Zambia, Malawi, Congo. China ’08-’14 if under 55 with an American accent teach ESL; Antalya, Turkey ’14-present, the bestest, cheapest place in the world for retirees. Casey doesn’t like Europe for its prospects of WWIII. No Euro country is affordable including Cyprus. USA ’43-’08 Cincinnati, Cleveland, Atlanta, Scottsdale, Houston, Eugene; I’d try to figure a way to live in Savannah, get involved in the real food farm to market movement and Sub Chapter S or LLC myself.

I have always been a Live to Eat kinda guy and want to avoid the Eat to Live crowd at the bottom of the pyramid.

 

 

MONEY

Adam Smith on money, the source and as a method of exchange.

Whoever derives his revenue from a fund which is his own, must draw it either from his labor, from his stock, or from his land. The revenue derived from labor is called wages. That derived from stock, by the person who manages or employs it, is called profit. That derived from it by the person who does not employ it himself, but lends it to another, is called the interest or the use of money. The revenue which proceeds altogether from land, is called rent, and belongs to the landlord. The revenue of the farmer is derived partly from his labor, and partly from his stock. To him, land is only the instrument which enables him to earn the wages of this labor, and to make the profits of this stock.

WHEN the division of labor has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man’s wants which the produce of his own labor can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that surplus part of the produce of his own labor, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men’s labor as he has occasion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society.

 

But when the division of labor first began to take place, this power of exchanging must frequently have been very much clogged and embarrassed in its operations. One man, we shall suppose, has more of a certain commodity than he himself has occasion for, while another has less. The former consequently would be glad to dispose of, and the latter to purchase, a part of this superfluity. But if this latter should chance to have nothing that the former stands in need of, no exchange can be made between them.

The butcher has more meat in his shop than he himself can consume, and the brewer and the baker would each of them be willing to purchase a part of it. But they have nothing to offer in exchange, except the different productions of their respective trades, and the butcher is already provided with all the bread and beer which he has immediate occasion for. No exchange can, in this case, be made between them. He cannot be their merchant, nor they his customers; and they are all of them thus mutually less serviceable to one another. In order to avoid the inconvenience of such situations, every prudent man in every period of society, after the first establishment of the division of labor, must naturally have endeavored to manage his affairs in such a manner as to have at all times by him, besides the peculiar produce of his own industry, a certain quantity of some one commodity or other, such as he imagined few people would be likely to refuse in exchange for the produce of their industry.

Many different commodities, it is probable, were successively both thought of and employed for this purpose. In the rude ages of society, cattle are said to have been the common instrument of commerce; and, though they must have been a most inconvenient one, yet in old times we find things were frequently valued according to the number of cattle which had been given in exchange for them. The armor of Diomede, says Homer, cost only nine oxen; but that of Glaucus cost a hundred oxen.

Ghandi Salt Tax March to the Sea

Salt is said to be the common instrument of commerce and exchanges in Abyssinia; a species of shells in some parts of the coast of India; dried cod at Newfoundland; tobacco in Virginia; sugar in some of our West India colonies; hides or dressed leather in some other countries; and there is at this day a village in Scotland where it is not uncommon, I am told, for a workman to carry nails instead of money to the baker’s shop or the alehouse.

In all countries, however, men seem at last to have been determined by irresistible reasons to give the preference, for this employment, to metals above every other commodity. Metals can not only be kept with as little loss as any other commodity, scarce anything being less perishable than they are, but they can likewise, without any loss, be divided into any number of parts, as by fusion those parts can easily be reunited again; a quality which no other equally durable commodities possess, and which more than any other quality renders them fit to be the instruments of commerce and circulation. The man who wanted to buy salt, for example, and had nothing but cattle to give in exchange for it, must have been obliged to buy salt to the value of a whole ox, or a whole sheep at a time. He could seldom buy less than this, because what he was to give for it could seldom be divided without loss; and if he had a mind to buy more, he must, for the same reasons, have been obliged to buy double or triple the quantity, the value, to wit, of two or three oxen, or of two or three sheep. If, on the contrary, instead of sheep or oxen, he had metals to give in exchange for it, he could easily proportion the quantity of the metal to the precise quantity of the commodity which he had immediate occasion for.Different metals have been made use of by different nations for this purpose. Iron was the common instrument of commerce among the ancient Spartans; copper among the ancient Romans; and gold and silver among all rich and commercial nations.

Those metals seem originally to have been made use of for this purpose in rude bars, without any stamp or coinage. Thus we are told by Pliny, upon the authority of Timaeus, an ancient historian, that, till the time of Servius Tullius, the Romans had no coined money, but made use of unstamped bars of copper, to purchase whatever they had occasion for. These bars, therefore, performed at this time the function of money.

Marx’s Theory of Money

In the same way as his theory of rent, Marx’s theory of money is a straightforward application of the labor theory of value. As value is but the embodiment of socially necessary labor, commodities exchange with each other in proportion to the labor quanta they contain. This is true for the exchange of iron against wheat, as it is true for the exchange of iron against gold or silver. Marx’s theory of money is therefore in the first place a commodity theory of money. A given commodity can play the role of universal medium of exchange, as well as fulfil all the other functions of money, precisely because it is a commodity, i.e. because it is itself the product of socially necessary labor. This applies to the precious metals in the same way it applies to all the various commodities which, throughout history, have played the role of money.

It follows that strong upheavals in the ‘intrinsic’ value of the money-commodity will cause strong upheavals in the general price level. In Marx’s theory of money, (market) prices are nothing but the expression of the value of commodities in the value of the money commodity chosen as a monetary standard. If £1 sterling = 1/10 ounce of gold, the formula ‘the price of 10 quarters of wheat is £1’ means that 10 quarters of wheat have been produced in the same socially necessary labor times as 1/10 ounce of gold. A strong decrease in the average productivity of labor in gold mining (as a result for example of a depletion of the richer gold veins) will lead to a general depression of the average price level, all other things remaining equal. Likewise, a sudden and radical increase in the average productivity of labor in gold mining, through the discovery of new rich gold fields (California after 1848; the Rand in South Africa in the 1890s) or through the application of new revolutionary technology, will lead to a general increase in the price level of all other commodities.

Leaving aside short-term oscillations, the general price level will move in medium and long-term periods according to the relation between the fluctuations of the productivity of labor in agriculture and industry on the one hand, and the fluctuations of the productivity of labor in gold mining (if gold is the money-commodity), on the other.

Basing himself on that commodity theory of money, Marx therefore criticized as inconsistent Ricardo’s quantity theory. But for exactly the same reason of a consistent application of the labor theory of value, the quantity of money in circulation enters Marx’s economic analysis when he deals with the phenomenon of paper money.

As gold has an intrinsic value, like all other commodities, there can be no ‘gold inflation’, as little as there can be a ‘steel inflation’. An abstraction made of short-term price fluctuations caused by fluctuations between supply and demand, a persistent decline of the value of gold (exactly as for all other commodities) can only be the result of a persistent increase in the average productivity of labor in gold mining and not of an ‘excess’ of circulation in gold. If the demand for gold falls consistently, this can only indirectly trigger a decline in the value of gold through causing the closure of the least productive old mines. But in the case of the money-commodity, such overproduction can hardly occur, given the special function of gold of serving as a universal reserve fund, nationally and internationally. It will always therefore find a buyer, be it not, of course, always at the same ‘prices’ (in Marx’s economic theory, the concept of the ‘price of gold’ is meaningless. As the price of a commodity is precisely its expression in the value of gold, the ‘price of gold’ would be the expression of the value of gold in the value of gold).

Paper money, banks notes, are a money sign representing a given quantity of the money-commodity. Starting from the above-mentioned example, a banknote of £1 represents 1/10 ounce of gold. This is an objective ‘fact of life’, which no government or monetary authority can arbitrarily alter. It follows that any emission of paper money in excess of that given proportion will automatically lead to an increase in the general price level, always other things remaining equal. If £1 suddenly represents only 1/20 ounce of gold, because paper money circulation has doubled without a significant increase in the total labor time spent in the economy, then the price level will tend to double too. The value of 1/10 ounce of gold remains equal to the value of 10 quarters of wheat. But as 1/10 ounce of gold is now represented by £2 in paper banknotes instead of being represented by £1, the price of wheat will move from £1 to £2 for 10 quarters (from two shillings to four shillings a quarter before the introduction of the decimal system).

Keynes’s theory of surplus value

Over the last couple of weeks, we saw that Keynes denied that surplus value was produced by the unpaid labor of the working class. So how does surplus value—profit, interest and rent—arise, according to Keynes, if it is not produced by the working class?

“It is much preferable,” Keynes wrote in chapter 16 of the “General Theory,” “to speak of capital as having a yield over the course of its life in excess of its original cost, than as being productive. For the only reason why an asset offers a prospect of yielding during its life services having an aggregate value greater than its initial supply price is because it is scarce; and it is kept scarce because of the competition of the rate of interest on money. If capital becomes less scarce, the excess yield will diminish, without its having become less productive—at least in the physical sense.”

The difference between the “aggregate value,” to use Keynes’s terminology, and the “supply price”—the cost to the capitalist of that asset—is the surplus value that “asset” yields—not produces, according to Keynes—to its owner. But where does this surplus value that is “yielded” come from if it is not produced—that is, if it does not arise in the sphere of production? As we saw over the last several weeks, Keynes accepted the “classical” marginalist postulate, or unproved assumption, that the worker does not produce any surplus value but simply reproduces the value of the worker’s wage.