Several bloggers, including Guido Fawkes, have rightly emphasised the relevance of Ludwig von Mises’ work to the current financial crisis. The writings of Mises’ pupil, Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek, also offer important insights. Here is an excerpt from page 102 of his classic book, Denationalisation of Money, which was re-issued in downloadable pdf format earlier this year:
Monetary policy a cause of depressions
What we should have learned is that monetary policy is much more likely to be a cause than a cure of depressions, because it is much easier, by giving in to the clamour for cheap money, to cause those misdirections of production that make a later reaction inevitable, than to assist the economy in extricating itself from the consequences of overdeveloping in particular directions. The past instability of the market economy is the consequence of the exclusion of the most important regulator of the market mechanism, money, from itself being regulated by the market process.
A single monopolistic governmental agency can neither possess the information which should govern the supply of money nor would it, if it knew what it ought to do in the general interest, usually be in a position to act in that manner. … Money is not a tool of policy that can achieve particular foreseeable results by control of its quantity. But it should be part of the self-steering mechanism by which individuals are constantly induced to adjust their activities to circumstances on which they have information only through the abstract signals of prices. It should be a serviceable link in the process that communicates the effects of events never wholly known to anybody and that is required to maintain an order in which the plans of participating persons match.
It might also be noted that Tim Congdon, in his IEA monograph Money and Asset Prices in Boom and Bust, was one of the few authors who was writing about the monetary causes of the current crash before it happened – in 2005.