- Alt-M - https://www.alt-m.org -

I almost stopped reading

Michael Woodford of Columbia University is acknowledged as probably the most influential academic monetary economist today. His 2003 book Interest and Prices: Foundations of a Theory of Monetary Policy is his magnum opus. It is not a book for laymen, but it is one of the handful of books over the last 40 years that everyone who participates in academic debate on monetary economics needs to have read.

When introducing his theoretical framework, Woodford writes near the bottom of page 63, "I begin by considering price-level determination in an economy in which both goods markets and financial markets are completely frictionless: markets are pefectly competitive, prices adjust continuously to clear markets, and there exist markets in which state-contingent securities of any kind may be traded."

By page 64, though, a central bank somehow becomes part of this system of perfectly competitive markets. It is a perfect example of how limiting it is to know only the present. Free banking has a history centuries long: the first free banking system began in China apparently about 995, more than 600 years before the first central bank. More than 60 countries have had free banking. And yet, Woodford does not even pause for a page to consider what a banking system would look like without a central bank.