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Why don't we have that for free banking?
Posted By Kurt Schuler On April 12, 2014 @ 5:49 am In Currency Boards,Recommended Reading | 1 Comment
In the 1990s I wrote extensively on currency boards with Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University. The subject had a vogue among economists for several years, but faded after the crash of Argentina's "convertibility" system in late 2001 and early 2002 (which I analyzed here). Steve and I remain interested in currency boards. With Nicholas Krus, at the time an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, we conceived the idea of a Digital Archive on Currency Boards. Nick did the most work to make it a reality, spending many hours photographing source material in libraries in Washington DC, London, and even in Canberra during a semester as an exchange student there. A number of Steve's other students also worked on the archive, for which I thank them.
It would be desirable to have an analogous archive on free banking. The task of gathering the source material would be different, because there was no single issuer of currency as there was in most currency board systems. (In a few currency board systems, currency boards issued notes alongside banks. Bank notes were sometimes restricted to larger denominations, giving the currency boards a monopoly of small denominations. The Digital Archive on Currency Boards does not cover the banks in such cases.) Annual reports of banks, financial statements published in government gazettes or commercial newspapers, reports of government bank inspectors, and other sources exist in great quantity, waiting to be collected and organized. As with the material on currency boards, most of it is out of copyright and therefore could be posted on the Internet. Material remaining under copyright could still be collected for individual use, then posted as copyright expires. This site would be one possibility for the location of the archive. I lack the time to undertake such a task, which I think would need to be a cooperative undertaking among widely scattered scholars rather than a project that owes most of its content to just one person. A spontaneous order awaits a catalyst. Is somebody out there equal to the challenge?
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