通缩和民主

普林斯顿-金融历史中的一部分,是努力寻找测量价值安全而稳定的方法的历史。然而,像对我们这个不可预知的世界的确定性的任何其他探求一样,这注定是要失败的。当最近的金融危机摧毁了我们能够为资产确定一个精准的价格这一看法的同时,它也有力地突显了这一弱点。现在,许多人深信这一缺陷是金融体系所固有的。但是,有关价值的不确定性也暴露了政治秩序深层次的问题。

在过去,金属货币为价值问题提供了一个解决办法,但是这一解决办法并不便利和令人满意。说它不便利,是因为在日常交易中,黄金使用起来不方便,而白银对重大交易来说,价值太低。

而且,金属货币在发现了新供给的时候,其价值容易发生不可预测的变化。在16世纪,来自新大陆的白银引发了持续的通货膨胀。19世纪中期加州黄金储藏的发现,以及50年后阿拉斯加、南非以及澳大利亚黄金储藏的发现,也导致了温和的通胀,而在19世纪70年代和19世纪80年代,这样的发现的缺乏却导致了温和的通缩。

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