The Soul of Enterprise Interview [Part 4]
Today, I’ll be sharing the final part of the transcript of an interview that I did with the hosts of The Soul of Enterprise.
Keep scrolling to read the final part in this series…
Ron: Welcome back, everybody. We’re here with George Gilder and George, your most recent book, you’ve mentioned it. We will post show notes, folks, with links to where you can find George. We’ll put up all of his books including his new 1 you can download in PDF which is called The 21st Century Case for Gold: A New Information Theory. George, this little monograph of yours just blew my mind. One of the things you say is you recount the trip to China with Milton Freeman. In this paper, you say Milton Friedman was wrong about monetary theory. How was Milton Friedman wrong in your opinion?
George: I have a T-shirt that I got from some economic conference. It was Milton Friedman on the front of it and MV=PT. Sums up Milton Friedman’s monetarism. MV means the money supply, all the purchasing media in the economy, the money supply times velocity. That’s the turnover is the money equals essentially prices times strength actions or G the output. GDP, essentially. Milton Friedman assumed that the money supply ruled. This was his big theme of monetarism. If you control the money supply, you really could control nominal GDP and have a big influence on real GDP. That’s the monetarist faith.
If that’s true then it is really important obviously to have control over the money supply. It’s good to have an expert at the Federal Reserve Board regulate money and it’s crucial not to have the people control money because it’s so important but it depends on V being a constant. Essentially, V, velocity, the turnover of the money has to be reasonably constant. Friedman got a Nobel Prize in part for explaining why it was a constant. It an effective psychological propensities embodied in lifetime savings targets. You save when you’re young and you spend when you’re old.
In other words, velocity isn’t part of the economy. It’s expression of this psychological propensity. It’s assumed that turnover was around 1.7 times a year of velocity. This was a role of economic science. There were times when relatively velocity did seem to be relatively stable and it’s stable when the measuring stick is stable but as soon as we adopted Friedman’s floating rates, velocity became volatile.
Velocity is now wildly more volatile than the actual economic activity that these measuring sticks are supposed to measure. Monetarism doesn’t work anymore and velocity, when you think about it, is the way we control the economy how we decide whether we like this money and whether we’re going to spend it a lot because it’s dropping in value or whether we’re going to save it or whether we’re going to make long term investments. Velocity really embodies a whole array of human participation in the economy.
Friedman’s monetarism was a mistake as Freedman himself acknowledged in 2003 in 1 of his last interviews was with the Financial Times. He just acknowledged that they’re targeting the money supply did not work. He said, “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t stress the money supply the way I did in the past.” That’s essentially what he said but still, all the fed people have all assumed that if you can control the money supply in 1 of the 16 different categories or whatever of money, you actually can regulate the economy and keep prices stable and expand employment. It’s all delusion from my point of view.
Ron: It’s demand-side delusion.
Ron: I’m sorry, George. It’s demand-side delusion, isn’t it? It’s like Keynesianism with fiscal policy.
George: That’s right.
Ron: You say in the paper that velocity is an expression of our freedom. I just love that. The other thing that you point out, the Steve Forbes quote that floating the currency is like floating the clock. That’s a great 1 because like you say, “Money is time and it needs to be constant. That’s the beauty at times. It’s a constant measuring stick.”
George, we’ve only got a couple of minutes. I want to get Ed in here because he’s got a question for you but I’m going to set it up. You delivered what I think is probably the absolute best moral case for free markets capitalism, whatever you want to call it, to the Vatican in a speech you gave called the Soul of Silicon in 1997. My question and I just love that, by the way. I read it twice a year. I just think that is the most profound thing.
George: I’ll jump back to it. I haven’t read it for a while.
Ron: George, it’s just an inspired piece of writing. Was the Pope in attendance when you delivered that speech?
George: There were cardinals in attendance. There were a whole bunch of … But I don’t think the pope himself was … The thing I printed and distributed around the Vatican so it was a significant document and the Pope might have read it but he was not there when I addressed some group of cardinals and other high officials in the church.
Ron: I wish the new Pope would read it.
Ed: That’s my question, George, is recently Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review published an article that was entitled Puzzling out Pope Francis in which he posits the Pope is often misquoted and out of context but what are your thoughts on Pope Francis?
George: I think partly, he’s reacting to this carnival of currency trading, in speculation that has dominated economics for the last decade of floating currencies or less and I think that he doesn’t understand it but he intuitively knows that something’s wrong. He’s right that something’s wrong. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any language for explaining what it is. He gets captured by the left and he makes big blunders like adopting climate change as a moral cause and all these other mistakes that he’s making but I think his … I gather he’s influenced by Peronism and Peronism in Argentina, isn’t that right?
Ed: Yes, yeah.
George: It’s a product of that very failed populist assumption. It really assumes that time is infinite and so anything is possible. I think that is a misconception.
Ed: That’s outstanding. I think that’s very much along the lines of what Ron and I have both thought. Perhaps we also did have Father Robert Sirico on and I know you are friends but at least know him so perhaps when the Pope comes to the United States, Father Sirico will get an audience with him and straighten him out.
George: I hope he does.
Ed: Thank you so much for being on the show, George. This has been absolutely outstanding. Ron. I’ll let you take it and close.
Ron: Yeah. George, I just want to say on the back of the book Knowledge and Power, there’s a blurb from Rush Limbaugh and it says, “My friends, it would behoove you to study everything you can get your hands on by George Gilder, a true American genius.” George, I don’t know if you know this but 1 day on his radio show, Rush said, “If I didn’t have my brain, I’d want Gilder’s.”
George: I never heard that.
Ron: I’d have to say, “Ditto.” George …
George: The Discovery Institute in Seattle, we’re pursuing all these issues.
Ron: Yes, you are. You do great work at the Discovery Institute. I should have mentioned that you’re a fellow. George, we will have full show notes. We will post all links and everything that you do and all your books and all of that. We’re so honored and privileged that you came on this show. Thank you so much, George Gilder.
George: Thank you.
Ed: What do we got next week, Ron?
Ron: Ed, we got pricing on purpose. We’re going to talk about 10 factors of price sensitivity.
Ed: Outstanding. I’ll see you in 167 hours, then.
Ron: This has been The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy, sponsored by Sage, supporting small and medium-sized businesses by creating greater freedom for them to succeed.
Join us next week on Friday at 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific. We will have pricing on purpose. In the meantime, please visit us at thesoulofenterprise.com. We will have full show notes on our interview with George Gilder along with links to where you can find him, his books and articles, other things about him.
Folks, thank you so much for joining us and have a great weekend. We’ll see you next week.
Matt: All right. Good job, guys. All clear.
Ron: Thanks, Matt.
Matt: No. No worries.
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy