The record of past “free banking” systems, in which paper currency consisted of competitively supplied banknotes, contradicts the widespread belief that central banks play an essential part in promoting financial stability. Instead, both that record and theoretical inquiries concerning how free banking arrangements regulate the money supply suggest that central banks, far from being bulwarks of financial stability, are inherently destabilizing. In particular, a free banking reform might have proven far more effective than the Federal Reserve Act in preventing U.S. financial crises.

Recorded live on July 2, 2014, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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George Selgin

George Selgin is a Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. He is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. His writings also appear on His research covers a broad range of topics within the field of monetary economics, including monetary history, macroeconomic theory, and the history of monetary thought. He is the author of The Theory of Free Banking, Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order, and several other books. He holds a B.A. in economics and zoology from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University.