David Gordon - 8/27/2009
[A History of Money and Banking in the United States: From the Colonial Era to World War II. By Murray N. Rothbard, edited by Joseph T. Salerno. Mises Institute, 2002. 510 pages.]
Murray Rothbard had a remarkable ability to throw unexpected light on historical controversies. Again and again in his work, he pointed out factors that earlier authors had overlooked. After Rothbard has finished with a topic, we can never see it in the same way again. This talent is much in evidence in the present book, a collection of several long articles by Rothbard that together constitute a comprehensive look at American monetary history for the period indicated in the book’s title.
An example will illustrate Rothbard’s technique. Everyone knows Lenin’s theory of imperialism. Developed capitalist economies, Lenin maintained, characteristically produce more than they can sell domestically. To find an outlet for their surplus goods, capitalists seek markets abroad. Their endeavors bring about a struggle for colonies; thus, the “highest stage” of capitalism is imperialism.