Ron Paul Draws Big Crowds at Mises Institute Brazil Conference

Dr. Paul was received like a rock star at the 2014 Conferência De Escola Austríaca in Sao Paulo, with more than 400 people attending his keynote speech.  Thanks to Helio Beltrao of Mises Brazil for hosting Ron and putting on a fantastic event.

More photos here, and Ron’s report here. Many more Facebook photos here.

Ron Helio

RP HB

Goldman Sachs on Scottish Independence

A senior economist at Goldman Sachs has weighed in on the upcoming Scottish independence vote, and it’s not pretty:

Goldman warned that public services would have to be cut if Scotland goes it alone, and that the country would face much higher borrowing costs. But the most worrying consequence, the bank predicted, would be that uncertainty over a currency union would cause a run on sterling and a capital flight with echoes of the eurozone crisis. ”The most important specific risk, in our view, is that the uncertainty over whether an independent Scotland would be able to retain sterling as its currency could result in an EMU-style currency crisis occurring within the UK,” wrote Kevin Daly, senior economist at Goldman.

Royal_Standard_of_Scotland,_Holyrood_Palace

Agnosticism is almost certainly warranted with respect to the politics of the referendum itself. The Scots will choose the yoke of London or the yoke of Brussels, the Pound or the Euro. A Scottish currency is neither discussed nor even considered. But it is a distinct pleasure to watch elite interests panic at the thought of losing even some degree of centralized control over a country of only 5.2 million people.

And the endless push for centralization and control extends beyond currency:

“One of the main lessons from the euro area crisis is that a reasonably high degree of fiscal and/or financial integration is necessary, as a means of effective risk sharing, for a monetary union to work,” Mr Daly wrote.

This brings to mind the late Harry Browne’s famous quote: “Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, ‘See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk’”. Browne’s dictum applies perfectly to the Eurozone: first the ECB destroys any vestige of monetary sovereignty via the Euro, and effectively monetizes the sovereign debt crisis. Then it begins, via the loathsome European Parliament, to make demands for integration of fiscal policy as well. After all, once you’ve accepted the Euro it’s awfully hard to argue for the continued ad hoc issuance of sovereign debt without regard to the impact on other Eurozone partners.

One MEP has already warned poor Scotland (lacking its own central bank) that under “EU law” (sic) it must use the Euro if it votes for independence:

Olli Rehn, vice president of the European Parliament and former commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said in a letter to chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander the use of sterling in Scotland is prohibited unless Westminster grants explicit permission. All three main political parties have already refused to allow Scotland to retain the pound in case of a ‘Yes’ vote, making this option illegal under EU law, which requires a country to have access to an independent central bank to use a currency. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, argued this would not stop the country from using the existing currency, but Rehn has moved to prevent that option. He wrote: “As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own and thus no necessary instruments of the EMU”.

There is no happy ending here for the Scots, who regardless of the referendum vote are highly unlikely to become the “Singapore of the North.”

 

 

The War on Cash: Latin American Front

In the latest episode in the global War on Cash, Uruguay will ban all cash transactions for more than US$5,000.  The law is set to take effect May 2015 and also mandates that all taxes, no matter how small the sum owed, must be paid electronically.

HT to Nick G

Ten Reasons to Condemn Inflation

6871Mises Daily Monday, by Andreas Marquart:

Increasing the supply of fiat money, also known as inflation, leads to a myriad of social and economic ills, affecting employment, the family, emotional health, and more.

 

Richmond Fed President Sees Fed as the Problem

250px-Federal_Reserve_Bank,_Richmond,_VirginiaHow large a problem is moral hazard caused by the Fed helping out troubled bank during financial crises? Pretty large, at least according to Jeffrey Lacker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

One argument for central bank credit market activism rests on the notion that fragility is inherent in modern financial markets… Four decades of precedent [Fed and FDIC rescues of uninsured creditors] surely encouraged the belief that acute financial distress is likely to elicit some sort of rescue. Although this question is not yet settled, my view is that pre-crisis financial vulnerabilities were in large part induced by financial markets’ response to a long record of discretionary Federal Reserve interventions in credit markets.

Lacker heads one of the country’s 12 Federal Reserve districts, and thinks that the Fed is the problem. Unfortunately, he also thinks it is the solution.

One can appreciate how this interventionist tendency rose, though. When one is confronted with an instance of financial distress, an ex-post mindset makes it tempting to leave moral hazard problems for another day, to be dealt with after the crisis through tougher regulatory constraints on risk-taking.

If Lacker sees a “chicken or the egg” problem, he could appeal to the size of the problem. Richmond Fed economists estimated that at least 45% of financial sector liabilities were implicitly guaranteed by the government at the end of 1999. By the end of 2011 that figure rose to 57%. More than half of these guarantees were set by precedent, rather than explicit legislative solutions like deposit insurance.

Moral hazard is a problem, and every time it leads to a new chapter of crisis it gets worse. Ending Fed support for the financial sector today might cause some disruptions today, but at least it avoids a worse fate in the future.

(Cross posted at Mises Canada.)

Böhm-Bawerk: Austrian Economist Who Said “No” to Big Government

6851Mises Daily weekend by Richard Ebeling:

To his last, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk defended reason and the logic of the market against the emotional appeals and faulty reasoning of those who wished to use power and the government to acquire from others what they could not obtain through free competition.

Another Excuse for More ZIRP and QE?

The August jobs report is out and its not pretty. Instead of a faster pace of jobs growth the report was disappointing and past reports were revised downward. This is just the ammunition that Janet Yellen and the Fed need to possibly extend Quantitative Easing and their Zero Interest Rate Policy.

The liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research that regularly comments on the jobs reports concludes:

The remarkably weak GDP growth in this recovery is consistent with the extraordinarily weak job growth. While many have tried to explain the weakness on demographics, even if we restrict the focus to prime age men, employment is performing far worse than in prior recoveries.

Could it be that the “remarkable” weakness has something to do with the “remarkable” policies of the Fed and the Central government?

Peace and State Coercion in Augustine’s Thought

download (6)In his Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, Rothbard identified Augustine of Hippo  as “the first Church Father to have a positive view of the merchant” noting that it was wrong to condemn a whole class of men for the sins of a few. Augustine also understood that valuation of goods stem from “their own needs rather than by any more objective criterion or by their rank in the order of nature.”

Moreover, Augustine broke with the classical Greek view of the polis that exalted the polis and downplayed or rejected the efforts of individualists and entrepreneurs who sought to innovate or overturn the status quo. In Augustine’s view, on the other hand, Rothbard notes,  ”profound emphasis on the individual” set the stage for future philosophical developments that recognized “the essential place of the individual in the natural order.” 

Rothbard quotes the famous passage of Augustine’s from City of God , Book IV:

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.

In spite of this passage’s insightfulness, it would be nonetheless disingenuous to claim (as Rothbard does not) that Augustine draws the correct conclusions from this correct observation. Augustine does indeed correctly pinpoint the true nature of the state. Unfortunately, Augustine nonetheless concludes that monopolistic civil governments are necessary for peace. In this we see an odd contradiction in Augustine’s thought. As an observer of the state and its evils, Augustine is second to none for his time, offering very keen insights into the hypocrisies and contradictions behind the justifications offered for state rule. And yet, in spite of his detailed take-down of states, including, of course, the Roman Empire, but also a myriad of other states as well, Augustine then concludes that nothing better can be hoped for.

In this position, we are reminded that the key to understanding Augustine’s overall view of the state is his assertion that the best that can be hoped for is that the most terrible elements of society or neighboring kingdoms be restrained by force by some ruler (not necessarily a monarch). Without an absence of open warfare or terror campaigns by criminals (both “public” and private), Augustine maintains, few things of value can be accomplished. This is no doubt correct, but he carries this position too far in concluding that ultimately, even when princes and dictators abuse their power, resistance is rarely justified except in the most extreme cases. This is odd given the frequently negative language Augustine uses to describe the state. His repeated references to political rulers as thieves and brigands and robbers would seem to make is clear that Augustine views the state as something poisonous to human society. But then he turns around and more or less argues that it’s best to die by drinking some of that particular poison than by dying of something else.

Before we can delve more completely into this, we need to be aware of how Augustine uses the word “state.” In defining the state he writes:  “Now what is  a State but a multitude of men bound together by some bond of concord?” (Letter CXXXVIII, 9-15)

Here Augustine is writing about 1,400 years before Max Weber, so we’ll give him a break. But obviously, Augustine’s definition of state is closer to what we might call a “commonwealth” or “community.” Augustine does not necessarily mean a purely voluntary community, but we can also guess from his overall writings that he does not envisage what we would recognize as a state, strictly speaking, today. Namely, being from late antiquity, Augustine does not imagine an organization that enjoys a total monopoly over the means of coercion within a territory. It’s more complex than that for Augustine and for everyone else who predates the rise of the modern bureaucratic state. Nonetheless, Augustine’s usage of the term makes no distinction at all between the rulers and the ruled. This in itself is a fatal error, as explained by Weber, Franz Oppenheimer, Frank Chodorov, Martin Van Creveld, and others. Fortunately, however, it does not prevent Augustine from making some astute observations.

Read More→

Mises Weekends: Dr. Philipp Bagus Explains The Tragedy of the Euro

MisesWeekends_v2_Deist_1400-300x300Jeff Deist and Philip Bagus discuss not only the history and possible future of the Euro, but also the ECB under Draghi; the nationalist sentiments sweeping some European nations that want their own currency back; how the ECB has effectively monetized the sovereign debt of the PIIGS; and how Germans may well be nostalgic for the Bundesbank.

Philipp Bagus is an associate professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. He is an associate scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and was awarded the 2011 O.P. Alford III Prize in Libertarian Scholarship. He is the author of The Tragedy of the Euro and coauthor of Deep Freeze: Iceland’s Economic CollapseThe Tragedy of the Euro has so far been translated and published in GermanFrenchSlovakPolishItalianRomanian,  FinnishSpanishPortugueseBritish EnglishDutchBrazilian PortugueseBulgarian, and Chinese. See his website.

Also at Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mises-institute/mises-weekends/episode/35299631?autoplay=true

Introducing the Mises Curriculum!

6869Mises Daily Friday:

The 50+ courses in the Mises Curriculum will guide you through Austrian economics, from the action axiom to advanced monetary theory, and through libertarian political philosophy, from the non-aggression principle to advanced libertarian legal theory.

Ron Paul and Mark Spitznagel Talk Freedom, Farming, and the Fed

6870Mises Daily Friday:

Investor Mark Spitznagel and Ron Paul discuss agriculture policy, Wall Street, fiat money, investing, and Ron Paul’s plans for the future.

 

More on Fractional Reserves and Austrian Economics

449px-Bank_vault_1901Robert Batemarco addresses the more flamboyantly wrong portions of John Tamny’s recent anti-Austrian Forbes article in  Tuesday’s Mises Daily. Now, even Mike Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis avers that “Tamny proves he does not understand AE or fractional reserve lending.” Mish makes what should be some obvious points right off the bat (but which aren’t obvious to Tamny):

Point by Point Look

Tamny: “It’s well known that some Austrians have a major problem with ‘fractional reserve banking’ whereby banks pay for liabilities (deposits) by virtue of turning those liabilities into assets (interest paying loans). Instead, they borrow money from depositors seeking a return on their savings, and who don’t need access to their savings right away, only to lend the money borrowed to individuals who do need it right away. The profits come from borrowing at one rate of interest, then lending longer term at a higher rate.”

Mish: With that single paragraph Tamny proves he does not understand AE or fractional reserve lending. In fact, he makes it clear he is clueless as to where the money banks lend even comes from. AE has no beef against lending. Rather, AE does object to money being created out of thin air for lending.

I don’t care, nor does AE care if 100% of deposits are lent out, as long as three conditions are met: 1) Money is not created into existence by the loan 2) Money is not lent out for terms longer than the bank has access to the money 3) Depositors who lend money to the banks for interest are the ones who pay the price should there be a default on the loans.

In regards to point number three, it should be implicitly understood that the higher the interest banks pay for deposits, the greater the risk the banks (and depositors) must take to achieve that return. If it blows up, depositors, not innocent bystanders should pay the price.

Tamny: “Banks aren’t in business, nor could they remain in business if they simply warehoused money.”

Mish: Is there a need for warehousing? Even if the answer is no (which it isn’t), Tamny clearly fails to understand AE does not preclude lending. AE only precludes fraudulent lending.

Tamny: To many Austrians, this non-coerced act of exchange between consenting individuals is a fraud, and needs to be treated as such by the state. The Austrians want government to restrain what they deem a violation of property rights.

Mish: No! The problem of property rights comes into play multiple ways. Let’s go through some examples.

1. Banks take a deposit, say a CD that pays interest for 5 years. Then the bank lends the money for 30 years. That’s as fraudulent as me leasing a home for 5 years and issuing a 15 year sublease on my lease.

2. Checking accounts are known in the industry as “demand deposit accounts”. Money is supposed to be available on demand. It isn’t. In 1994 Greenspan allowed sweeps, whereby banks can nightly “sweep” all money from checking accounts into savings accounts, unbeknownst to the depositor, so the money could be lent out. Money people think is there for safekeeping isn’t there at all. The Fed recently stopped reporting of sweeps

Sound fraudulent to you? It does to me.

It’s fraudulent even if people agree to it in obscure hard to understand legalese. Why? Because it’s as fraudulent as lending out 100 tons of grain when only 20 tons are in the warehouse, whether or not the owner of the 20 tons of grain signs an OK for lending out 100 tons.

Shedlock becomes less clear and more vague when he gets into the money multiplier, and for that it’s perhaps best to stick to Batemarco:

The notion of the money multiplier is by no means uniquely Austrian. I learned it forty years ago from the Paul Samuelson textbook and from the Fed publication Modern Money Mechanics. It is also the centerpiece of the monetary system chapter of virtually every textbook right up to Paul Krugman’s most recent edition. Indeed, the nature of the process is one of the most uncontroversial propositions in economics — a good definition of an uncontroversial economic proposition being one on which both Murray Rothbard and Paul Krugman are in substantive agreement. Indeed, if there were no money multiplier, one would be at a loss to explain why, until QE1 in 2008, M1 was a 1.6 times size of the monetary base, having historically been even higher. Nor would the required reserve ratio, a tool of monetary policy that became too powerful to be used after 1937, have any effect on the money supply in the absence of the money multiplier effect.

What is controversial about the money multiplier is not its existence, but whether or not it creates distortions in the economy. The distortions introduced into the economy by fractional reserve banking, and to an even greater extent by central banking, comprise the central element of Austrian business cycle theory. The basic idea is that the creation of money (which is also credit, since that new money is loaned into existence) increases the supply of loanable funds and lowers market interest rates without increasing the supply of voluntary saving. This misleads investors into believing that more resources have been made available by savers for investment projects than actually have been made available. Thus, projects are started on too big a scale since many investors try to exercise a claim on the same productive resources. In so doing, they will bid up the resource prices, slashing the profitability of many of these investment projects. This is the real goods sector counterpart of bank runs in the monetary sector. Since there is no real goods sector counterpart to deposit insurance, firms will run short of the resources necessary to profitably complete their investment projects, exposing them as malinvestments and turning boom to bust.

More Chinese Translations of Lectures by Mises Scholars

New videos with Chinese subtitles, thanks to Xiong Yue:

Robert Higgs at Mises U in 2012 on the nature of the state.
Jesus Huerta de Soto explains Austrian Business Cycle Theory.
Philipp Bagus at Mises U 2012 on banking and financial markets.
Peter Klein at Mises U 2013 on production and the firm.
Jeffrey Herbener at Mises U 2013 on the laws of the valuation of time.
Philipp Bagus explains money at Mises U 2012.
Jeffrey Herbener discusses production and human action at Mises U 2013.
Tom Woods explains why Austrian economics is exciting at Mises U 2013.
Robert Higgs explains why the state is too dangerous to tolerate at Mises U 2013.

higgs

Fracking Industry Resorts to Crude Caricatures and Economic Nationalism

download

The hydraulic fracturing (fracking)  industry is fighting regulations or outright bans against fracking in a variety of states and localities. There are many reasons to oppose government restrictions on fracking, of course. If a fracking operation can arrange to frack on private land and pay market rates (not subsidized rates) for water, then there is no reason why a private company should not be free to do so. If fracking results in polluting a neighbor’s land or water, the fracking organization in question should be liable in the fashion outlined by Rothbard for dealing with polluters.

One reason to not support fracking, though, is because it is good for “energy independence” or economic nationalism. Both concepts have long been dreams of militarists and economic interventionists who believe that investors, consumers, and private citizens should be dictated to by government as to what they can buy, where they should invest, and whom they should be able to work for. Every now and then, one sees a new article coming from nationalists such as Pat Buchanan who claim that it is a matter of “national security” that the United State attempt autarky in food production, energy production, and, of course, production of the machinery of war.  Since capital and labor move constantly to better accommodate consumers and do not respect national borders, such autarky can only be achieved through government regulation, prohibition, and force.

Thus, you can understand my disappointment when I noticed this video from a pro-fracking industry group called Friends for Safe Energy that argues for freedom in fracking, not because freedom or respect for private property are good things, but because fracking is (allegedly) bad for the Russians. In other words, faced with the option of appealing to basic human rights (such as private property) or appealing to rank and crude nationalism, the fracking group decided to go with the latter:

Why bother with a pro-freedom argument when you can employ nationalistic fear-mongering and ethnic stereotypes instead?

As an argument, this is barely a step up from the “If you Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler” propaganda campaign which lectured Americans about not contributing enough to “energy independence.” They didn’t use that term back then, but that’s what they meant. Yes, it’s true that the stated goal (at least on the surface) of “Friends of Safe Energy” is more freedom for frackers and their clients, but is it necessary to make their case by employing inherently statist canards? It’s also true that there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to carpool, but we all know that to encourage economic nationalism, whether it’s anti-Hitler or anti-Russian, is to posture against free trade, free association, and consumer freedom.

Not that we should be surprised. Numerous major industries, including the oil industry have long had a very bad record on free trade and free markets. From the sugar industry, to steel, all the way back to Jefferson’s trade embargo, many domestic industries have been more than happy to encourage xenophobia and nationalism to help the bottom line.

Friends for Safe Energy is apparently carrying on this tradition, and if they’re the best we can hope for in making the case for free markets, we are in deep trouble indeed.

Politics and Inequality

inequalityThe Federal Reserve has just released a survey indicating that income and wealth inequality has been growing in the United States since 2007. Meanwhile, President Obama has called for government action to reduce inequality. So, it is worth a remark that the growth in inequality reported by the Fed pretty much coincides with the Obama presidency.

One can debate how much government can actually do to affect inequality, but because the president has called for government action to reduce it, that is an indication that President Obama believes government policy has an effect. If so, Obama’s government would have to be responsible for at least a part of the growing inequality the Fed has reported.

Imagine if this news on growing inequality had been announced during the Bush administration. Much of the reporting would have been on how much inequality has grown because of President Bush’s policies. Nobody is saying this today, about President Obama’s policies.

Is the recent increase in inequality really a result of the president’s policies?

The president’s own statements indicate he thinks inequality is enough a product of government policy that those policies could be changed to reduce it. Using the president’s own words, we could find him responsible.

If the president’s policies have had any effect on inequality, there are good arguments to suggest that they have increased it. The president’s regulatory policies, the huge budget deficits, and his low interest rate policies, have slowed economic growth, which disproportionately affects those at the bottom, and clearly, small savers, who tend to rely on interest income more than on appreciation of financial assets, have been hurt by the president’s policies even as upper-income investors have been helped by the stock market boom fueled by the Fed’s policies.

So, I’ll agree with the president part-way on this. Not only can government have some effect on inequality, as the president suggests, the policies he has supported have increased inequality. Despite the president’s rhetoric, his policies have not been good for those at the bottom end of the income distribution.

Clean Water, Scarcity, and Market Prices

water2Mises Daily Thursday by Rhett Lloyd:

Many people are willing to donate much money to clean up government-owned lakes and streams and to spend many hours fundraising and complaining about pollution. But suggest to those people they should just pay market prices for access to those same bodies of water, they become indignant.

 

The Unseen Costs of the Minimum Wage

workerMises Daily Thursday by Josh Grossman:

Supporters of minimum wage hikes claim they have little or no effect on employment, the law of demand makes it clear the effects of price controls are very real.

 

International Conference of Prices & Markets

The International Conference of Prices & Markets is soon upon us. The third edition of the conference will be held at the University of Toronto on November 7-8th.

The Conference is designed to combine the opportunities of a professional meeting, with the added attraction of hearing and presenting new and innovative research, engaging in vigorous debate, and interacting with like-minded scholars who share research interests.

ICPM seeks papers that seek to improve the understanding of the role of markets in the economy. Submissions should seek to shed light on contemporary issues while being grounded in a praxeological reasoning. Papers are welcome from a variety of fields such as politics, sociology, and psychology, where ever they can bring relevance to economic and financial questions.

Scholars interested in presenting papers, serving as chairs/discussants, or proposing entire panels should submit proposals by September 10th, 2014. With all submissions, please include the following information for each participant, including non-attending co-authors:

1. Name
2. Affiliation (title and institution)
3. E-mail address
4. Telephone number
5. Title of paper(s)
6. Abstract(s) of no more than 100-200 words

Select papers from the conference will be published as Papers and Proceedings of the conference in the Journal of Prices & Markets, the flagship journal of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada.

If you’re interested in seeing what we got up to last year at the conference, please do check out the previous Papers and Proceedings.

Please send your submissions by email only to David Howden at dhowden@slu.edu (with “ICPM2014” in the subject line of the e-mail).

Finally, the Fed Blames Itself

220px-Marriner_S._Eccles_Federal_Reserve_Board_Building (1)This is an historic time. After six years of the most novel and expansive monetary policies since its creation 100 years ago, the Fed is finally ready to admit its role in prolonging the current recession… kind of.

Two economists at the Federal Reserve branch in St. Louis recently wrote a commentary blaming the sluggish recovery on consumers more interested in “hoarding” cash then spending. Not much of a surprise there, but the two reasons cited as to why consumers have a change of heart are telling.

1. Increased uncertainty because of the crisis has caused an increase in money holdings.

2. The low interest rate policy of the Fed has removed much of the incentive to invest that consumers used to be faced with.

Put the two together, and you quickly see how the Fed is culpable. The tradeoff of investing is holding your savings as a cash balance. Since investment returns are dismal because of the Fed’s efforts to keep interest rates pegged to the floor, consumers are not foregoing much return by putting their hard-earned savings in illiquid investments. Better to keep that cash in the bank. Couple that with the fact that uncertainty from the recession already increased peoples’ precautionary demand for cash, and you get a tidy little explanation for why spending is down and why bank reserves are at record levels.

Of course, my own explanation above, pinning the blame directly on the Fed, couldn’t possibly get nods of agreement from any Fed economists, could it? Indeed, as the authors of the aforementioned study conclude (and I concur):

In this regard, the unconventional monetary policy has reinforced the recession by stimulating the private sector’s money demand through pursuing an excessively low interest rate policy (i.e., the zero-interest rate policy).

(Cross-posted at Mises Canada)

Understanding the Cold War: A Bibliography

AMERICA-UNDER-COMMUNISMI recommend that readers begin with the essay by Murray Rothbard listed here. As Rothbard often stressed, one cannot infer a nation’s foreign policy from the nature of its domestic regime. Communist totalitarianism did not necessitate an aggressive foreign policy; and in the post-World War II period, Rothbard contended, Russian foreign policy was largely defensive in character. The main Communist danger to America was internal rather than external.

Alperovitz, Gar. The Decision to the Use the Atomic Bomb. Argues that the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan was intended as an anti-Russian move.

Blackett, P. M. S. Fear, War, and the Bomb. Contends that America sought to use nuclear policy to secure dominance over Russia.

Chomsky, Noam. American Power and the New Mandarins. Criticizes American intellectuals for their role in promoting a Cold War ideology.

Chomsky, Noam. At War With Asia. Emphasizes the destructive effects of American policy in this region.

Cumings, Bruce. The Korean War: A HistoryChallenges exclusive North Korean responsibility for the Korean War.

Doenecke, Justus. Not to the Swift: the Old Isolationists in the Cold War Era. Good analysis of the reactions of the opponents of American intervention in World War II to the Cold War.

Du Berrier, Hilaire. Background to Betrayal: the Tragedy of Vietnam. Shows how American leftists mounted a pressure-campaign in favor of American support for Ngo Dien Diem, with dire consequences.

Ekirch, Arthur. The Civilian and the Military. Criticizes American policy during the Korean War.

Fein, Bruce. American Empire Before the Fall. Detailed criticism of America’s longstanding expansionist policies.

Fleming, Denna Frank, The Cold War and Its Origins, 1917-1960. A massive work that stresses American responsibility for the Cold War. Valuable especially for its account of the Truman Doctrine.

Garret, Garet. The People’s PottageShows how the drive for empire has destroyed America’s traditions of liberty. Only the form of the republic remains. Garrett draws a parallel with the fall of the Roman Republic.

Higgs, Robert. Depression, War, and Cold War. Shows the enormous economic costs of the Cold War.

Kolko, Gabriel and Joyce Kolko. The Limits of Power: the World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954. Argues that the dominant aim of American policy during the early Cold War years was the construction of a world economic order under American hegemony.

La Feber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2006.  Shows the domestic considerations that influenced American Cold War policy.

Layne, Christopher. The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present. American foreign policy since 1940 has been consistently based on an attempt to secure American global dominance.

Leffler, Melvyn. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Shows that America was vastly superior in power to Russia in the post-World War II period.  America successfully sought predominant economic and political influence in Western Europe.

Leffler, Melvyn. The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953. Stalin’s post World War II policy was cautious and defensive, in contrast with the American quest for global hegemony.

Logevall, Fredrik. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire: The Making of America’s Vietnam. Shows how America’s Vietnam policy stems from earlier  American policy toward Indochina during the 1940s and 50s.

Lukacs, John. A New History of the Cold War. Argues that Russian foreign policy was more influenced by nationalism than by Communist ideology.

McMahan, Jeffrey. Reagan and the World: Imperial Foreign Policy in the New Cold War. A careful analysis of United States policy in Latin America. The author later became a distinguished moral philosopher.

Mills, C. Wright. The Causes of World War III. Strong attack on the “crackpot realism” of American policy.

Mills, C. Wright. The Power Elite. Argues that American policy is run in the interests of an alliance of powerful financial and military groups.

Paterson, Thomas G., ed. Cold War Critics: Alternatives to American Foreign Policy in the Truman Years. Contains essays on leading critics of American policy, including Walter Lippmann, who shifted from his World War II interventionism.

Quigley, John. The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II. American’s numerous military interventions since World War II have been based on lies and violations of international law.

Raico, Ralph. Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal. Contains a devastating essay on Harry Truman’s Cold War policy.

Rothbard, Murray N. “Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War” in Harry Elmer Barnes, Learned Crusader, ed. Arthur Goddard [ See my “Murray Rothbard and the Cold War” for further listings and discussion.]   A detailed account of the views of Barnes, a leading revisionist historian, on the Cold War. This article is the best account of Rothbard’s  own position.

Shoup, Laurence H. and William Minter. Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and American Foreign Policy. America aimed for world dominance even before the ostensible beginning of the Cold War. The Council on Foreign Relations played an important role in policy formation.

Smoot, Dan. The Invisible Government. Shows the influence of the Council on Foreign Relations in promoting an interventionist American foreign policy.

Stone, I.F. The Hidden History of the Korean War. Stresses the aggressive policies of the Syngman Rhee regime and the American government at the onset of the Korean War.

Williams, William Appleman. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. American Cold War policy must be seen in the context of a longstanding American search for economic empire. Empire was a substitute for the ending of the frontier.

Wills, Gary. Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. The advent of nuclear weapons has resulted in a vast growth in presidential power.

Wilson, Edmund. The Cold War and the Income Tax: A Protest. A leading literary critic challenges the use of fear by the American government to control the public. Cold War propaganda scares people into paying their income tax.