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What I hope this blog will achieve

My hope for this blog is that it will help answer several questions about free banking and related topics, namely:

  1. What’s old: What have we known for a while?
  2. What’s new: What have we recently found?
  3. What’s left: What do we still need to discover?
  4. How do we communicate our findings so that they receive the consideration they deserve?
  5. To the extent the ideas we discuss can make the world a better place, what are the steps for achieving them?

I will use my next several posts to set out some of my views on these topics.

From time to time, I will also do my part to add links and supplementary material to help make this blog an excellent first stop for anybody interested in free banking.


  1. Hello Kurt,
    Glad to see someone from the Treasury Department overseeing this blog.

    I'm an attorney with a weird interest in Constitutional issues surrounding this topic, and wondered if you'd welcome my comments. Hopefully, other Constitutional attorneys will also eventually join in to corroborate my view that free banking has promise in the United States, but it probably won't look like free banking models elsewhere in the world.

    For example, I would like to help assure that any proposed free banking models recognize the federal government's powers: (1) "to coin money" under Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cl. 5; (2) "to borrow" coined money under Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cl. 2 and the Legal Tender Cases of 1871 and 1875; (3) to prohibit state governments from coining money or emitting bills of credit under Art. 1, Sec. 10; (4) to prohibit state governments from exerting certain unacceptable controls over their state-chartered banks under McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Craig v. State of Missouri (1830), and the dissent in Briscoe v. Bank of Kentucky (1837); (5) to issue TreasuryDirect money under McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) without permission from its central bank; etc.

    Best Regards, Rick

    1. Thank you, Rick. As my bio says, although I work at the Treasury Department, my comments on this blog reflect no official view. The particular office where I work is not involved with domestic financial regulation, and moreover I will keep silent about current policy issues here. My interest in free banking springs from the general logic of free markets: they work for a wide range of goods and services, so why do people treat the issuance of money as an exception? Not being a lawyer, I have little to say directly on the points you raise. But eventually I will discuss the history of free banking in the United States in one of my posts. Banks issued notes under a variety of competitive and semicompetitive arrangements in the United States until 1935. Presumably this earlier experience is relevant to your concerns, since the legal precedents you cite greatly antedate 1935. As I will also eventually discuss, if free banking re-emerges in the future it may differ in key respects from past practice.

      And now, where are the other contributors? Start posting and don't leave Rick and me all alone here.

  2. Thanks, Kurt. Likewise, I'm not an economist or experienced in the administration or regulation of banks, but I think I have a sense for when Constitutional monetary laws will be compromised. My main attraction to the idea of free banking is that is it has little or no role for a central bank, which to me means that free banking understands the dangers of giving so much power to a non-representative, privately-owned, quasi-public corporation, not to mention the excessive fractional reserve powers the central bank has, and that a regulatory tax attaches to the use of their notes.

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