The primary function of a central bank is supposedly to monitor and control a nation's money supply by either printing money, removing money or raising and lowering interest rates.
The modern central bank prints paper money divorced from an underlying asset, which means that the bank can print as much as it chooses. The first central bank was the Bank of Amsterdam, established in 1609. Almost 100 years later, the Bank of England was created by Scottish businessman William Paterson in the City of London at the request of the English government to help pay for war.
In the US, the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. By 1935, the only significant independent nation without a central bank was Brazil, which today has one. Central banks are thus prevalent around the world, including Asia and China. China has a central bank, though unlike some central banks, the People's Bank of China is not considered independent of the State but is run by the Chinese Communist Party.
Whatever central banking was once, the idea is basically flawed. Human beings do not know how much money an economy needs. Only the free market can determine that.
Nonetheless, a host of socialist and quasi-socialist economists have glorified the role of central banks and obscured the real reason for their invention. Perhaps the most brilliant of these central bank apologists is John Maynard Keynes, himself a central banker, whose great economic tract, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, advocated the use of both fiscal and monetary stimuli to make economies prosper.
With Keynes's help, government intervention through taxes and central bank policies became an accepted way of running economies.
In simplest terms, central banks inflate by creating money. The more money they create, the cheaper money becomes, and the less a government's debt becomes. By cheapening money, the government deprives individual citizens of part of the value of that money. As the value is eroded, the citizen becomes poorer, even if he or she doesn't notice it right away.
There are three often-mentioned ways for central banks to help stimulate or deflate the economy.
• One way is for the central bank to buy or sell Treasury IOUs.
• Another way, which was more popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, is to raise and lower the rates of the so-called discount window, the amount that the central bank charges to its member banks for short-term borrowing.
• The third way is to move short-term interest rates up or down.
The main manner in which central banks move the economy is by adding to or subtracting from the amount of money in circulation by buying or selling government bonds, as mentioned above.
Even raising short-term rates constitutes a kind of tax because when rates are raised, bonds can lose their value, and citizens holding onto bonds — especially longer bonds — can suddenly find themselves poorer by thousands of dollars as the market reacts to rate news.
While the manipulations of the central banking mechanism sound innocent enough, free-market economists fervently blame almost every economic disaster of the last 500 years, with the exception of Tulipomania, on government intervention in the money supply or the marketplace.
Today, thanks to the Internet, central banks are under attack as never before. Their franchise provides the great central banking families with the funding they need to try to move the world toward global governance. Nothing in the world is what it seems today because of central banking and the monetary distortions that it causes.
The boom-bust cyclicality of modern economies can be laid directly at the feet of central banking, with its monetary stimulation, which first expands an economy and then contracts it when the expansion has gone too far. Thus, central banking is responsible for the manifold disasters that have overtaken the Western world in the past century at least.
Wars, industrial collapse, recessions and depressions can all be laid at the feet of central banking and the great families that insist on its ongoing implementation. In the age of the Internet Reformation, however, more and more people understand how central banking really works and the devastation it causes.
The 21st century may see a real conflict between a power elite that insists on a central banking model for the economy and millions, if not billions, who begin to demand free markets and freer economies.