14. “Free Banking and the Structure of Production: A Contrast of Competing Banking Systems”


Abstract: In this paper we extend an argument originally developed in Hülsmann (2009) to analyze changes to the structure of production that occur when the demand for money changes. In particular, we show that Hülsmann’s argument, which contrasted such changes under commodity and fiat systems, applies as well to the case of 100% reserve systems contrasted with fractional reserve free banking systems (FR/FB). Specifically, we argue that under a 100% reserve system, the structure of production will change in response to a change in demand for money, and that it will not under FR/FB. In fact, such changes are beneficial. Since one of the central arguments in defense of FR/FB is precisely the fact that it avoids such changes to the structure of production (at least more readily than 100% reserve systems), we conclude that this argument amounts to comparing different mechanisms for attaining different equilibrium states, and hence is invalid as a defense of that mechanism (FR/FB) as such.