When paper currency (fiat money) is printed and circulated, its relationship with the value it represents is like two cars driving in opposite directions. The gap between them widens exponentially. Increased currency printing without substantiation in real economical output will dilute its value. When that happens, low-income and unemployed people struggle to keep up with the diminishing purchasing power. Meanwhile, companies need to raise prices, which means more people struggle to keep up with the rising cost of living. This vicious cycle is called inflation.
Inflation and the dilution of currency value can kill a society fast. We saw that in late 17th century France. Remember the famous words “Let them eat cake”? They referred to treats being made for the elite while the masses were starving.
The history lesson of that era hasn’t been heeded. We’ve been hyper-printing money since George W. Bush installed new presses and redesigned our currency back in 2001. Under President Obama, it was called quantitative easing, but it boils down to the fact that the increase in currency is not reflected by an increase in production
France made several attempts at printing and getting money into circulation but failed. Eventually, the money just went towards debt payments until the debtors stopped recognizing its value. As money was being printed, it created a stock market bubble with record stock prices but without any actual gain to the French people. Does this sound familiar?
We are repeating that history now. Our debts are record high. Our corporations are just shells that don’t really benefit us. The US dollar barely circulates here, and most of what we make and use gets swept offshore, hoarded by foreigners who think it still has value. We have record-high national and consumer debt with minimal true GDP growth (services don’t count in my book). Sounds grim, doesn’t it? The average working person is indebted with almost no actual tangible worth. At the same time a carefree and insensitive elite has been formed flaunting their wealth and privilege in a way not seen for centuries.
(Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton on a visit to the Treasury’s printing press. A photo that became viral, as many people took offense to what they perceived as flaunted privilege.)
I remind you that there is a France today. Sometime after that era, it got its act together, The violence the French had to endure in the process was unimaginable. I suspect there will be an America after this era too, but the cost to cure our greed problem will likely be unimaginable too.