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The Truth About Economics: Part 7 Inflation Through History

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(See Comic) As the Roman Empire over expanded and eventually fell, the metal content of its coins shrunk; its currency became worth ever less due to excessive supply. In other words, the Roman Empire had inflation issues. As time went on they started making the coins of cheaper metals, they made them smaller, and they even started clipping coins. Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhymes.” And history is rhyming today in the United States. Today, it costs more to make pennies and nickels than they are worth at face value. In other words, they are worth more for their metal content than face value. Consequently, a law was implemented in 2006 to make melting down coins for their metal illegal. Years ago, when the United States had sound, constitutional money, the metal content of coins is what made them money, not the face value. money market interest rate Inflation has been a recurring problem throughout history. Approximately every 200 years, there has been a big wave of inflation driving prices higher followed by a period of relative price stability. These inflation waves have usually corresponded with population booms and usually ended in some variety of disaster, such as war, famine, disease, and so on, which reduced or stabilized the population. Population booms cause a number of problems involving price inflation. For one, it means more demand for basic goods, like grains, causing supply and demand issues. And two, it often compels governments to spend and print more money and thus go into debt to accommodate the booming population. This debt leads to currency debasement through oversupply, and acts as a hidden tax. investing online Price of Consumables in England 1200-2000 Logarithmic In a sane world with a stable population and sound money, the prices of most things would just get cheaper and cheaper. Steady productivity increases would lead to an abundant supply of goods, which, in turn, would allow people to get away with working less. Unfortunately, the world is not sane and people sabotage their own well-being by facilitating self-defeating behaviors. Coming Next: Part 8, It’s not just The United States

The Truth About Economics: Part 5 Inflation Protection

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(See Comic) How Much Money Do You Have? Little Or No Money If you have little or no money then you don’t have much to lose. However, inflation makes it that much harder to catch up and start accumulating money. If you don't have money sitting around, you have no money to put into an inflation hedge, like gold. All you can expect is for your cost of living to go up, while wages lag. If you are in debt, inflation will diminish the debt, but you still have to have enough money to pay off that debt. Moderate Amount of Money Due to inflation, you can’t just save money. You have to put it to work. money market Otherwise, over time, you lose purchasing power. You may be earning interest on your money, but it is still losing purchasing power, because interest rates don’t keep up with inflation. That is part of the problem to begin with: artificially low interest rates leading to excessive money demand and thus excessive money supply growth. And to add insult to injury, you are directly taxed on the little interest you make off your savings. Realistically, in the current environment, unless you are making over 10% a year on your money, you are losing out to inflation. Lots of Money If you have lots of money then you are in the best position to not only hedge yourself against inflation but also profit from it. If you have lots of money then you have lots of money to throw around into different investments. Plus, the more money you have, the more you become eligible to borrow more money at cheap rates and invest in things like hedge funds. But you still have to be wise. An unwise person with lots of money can be hurt by inflation more than anyone. Especially if the government wants to come in and redistribute wealth. money market accounts Where to Put Money In general, in an inflationary environment, you want your money to be in “things,” not paper. Since 2002, general commodity prices have risen about 3 fold (300%); that is very significant seeing as for the previous 20 years prices were practically stagnant—mostly due to increases in productivity. Gold/Silver The classic inflation hedge (and hedge against uncertainty in general) is to always have about 10% of your money in gold/silver. Gold and silver are historically what is considered real money (including in the U.S. Constitution). Unlike paper money and credit, there is a limited supply of silver and gold. Thus, gold and silver are a hedge against inflation and a hedge against economic uncertainty in general. In 2002 gold was selling for under $300 an ounce, silver under $5 an ounce. Today in 2008, gold is nearing $1000 an ounce and silver is nearing $20 an ounce. It would have been wise to buy gold and silver back in 2002, but if inflation keeps up, and speeds up, $1000 gold and $18 silver may seem cheap in the future. investing in gold, currency hedge, gold bullion investment Coming Next: Part 6, What to Expect in the coming years

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