Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quotes - Henry Hazlitt on Inflation

I just finished reading chapter XXIII: The Mirage of Inflation in Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson and I hit many statements, arguments, and logical deductions that I felt are significant and should be posted. These are two of my favorites.
"Even the clerk who used to get $75 a week and now gets $120 thinks that he must be in some way better off, though it costs him twice as much to live as it did when he was getting $75. He is of course not blind to the rise in the cost of living. But neither is he as fully aware of his real position as he would have been if his cost of living had not changed and if his money salary had been reduced to give him the same reduced purchasing power that he now has, in spite of his salary increase, because of higher prices. Inflation is the autosuggestion, the hypnotism, the anesthetic, that has dulled the pain of the operation for him. Inflation is the opium of the people."
The concluding paragraph of the chapter:
"Like every other tax, inflation acts to determine the individual and business policies we are all forced to follow. It discourages all prudence and thrift. It encourages squandering, gambling, reckless waste of all kinds. It often makes it more profitable to speculate than to produce. It tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men toward desperate remedies. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. It leads men to demand totalitarian controls. It ends invariably in bitter disillusion and collapse"
Its like he predicted the stock market bubble of the 90s, the recent housing boom, the collapse of the financial sector, the credit freeze, and the reaction by government to all of it in one paragraph, decades prior.

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