Peter St Onge is an Economist at the Heritage Foundation and a Fellow at the Mises Institute. In this interview, we discuss the differences between Keynesian and Austrian economics, the role of marketing in shaping public opinion, and the potential of Bitcoin to displace central banks and cut off one of the main channels that governments use to seize people’s resources.
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Keynesian economics developed in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its aim was to stabilise the volatility caused by market forces through the application of government and central bank resources. Its critics state it has opened up a range of tools that governments have exploited for short-term gain, whilst building up ever greater problems for future generations.
Keynes was mocked by major contemporary figures. Winston Churchill, who didn’t believe that state borrowing and expenditure could provide permanent additional employment, famously once said “If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.”
And yet, governments, on both sides of the political debate, seem to be currently addicted to greater monetary and fiscal interventions in the economy than at any time since the 1930s. Such actions started in 2008, but have continued apace since. They are a major factor in why global debt now stands at an eye-watering $305 trillion.
Hayek, the famous Austrian economist, foresaw the coming crisis, concluding that monetary policy only does harm to an economy. In 1976 he called for the denationalisation of money. In a famous 1984 interview, he stated “I don’t believe that we should ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government… all we can do is by some sly or roundabout way introduce something they can’t stop.” Hayek essentially foresaw Bitcoin.
Unsurprisingly, Bitcoin’s trajectory, as an incorruptible digital hard money, started as the deflated global economy was patched up with Keynesian policies in 2009. Over 14 years later, as these policies become ever more unsustainable, it seems like we’re on the cusp of a swing of mainstream opinion away from Keynesian policies, to policies predicated on Austrian economic principles. And Bitcoin could be the centre of this new paradigm.