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Thinking ahead of the next big crash: Clues from Athens in classical times

Bitros, George C. (2020): Thinking ahead of the next big crash: Clues from Athens in classical times.

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Abstract

Credible analyses and evidence submitted by experts from universities, international organizations and independent think tanks show that the trends which led to the 2008 worldwide financial crisis remain intact. As a result, central for responsible leaderships should be the concern how to forestall the next big one which might prove uncontrollable. Given the world dominance of the U.S. dollar, in a 2015 paper I discussed two paths of possible reforms: One bold but gradual, which would entail altering the present institutional setup of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (“the Fed”), provided that it maintains control over the Federal Funds Rate (FFR); and, if not, a radical one, which would entail replacing the Fed with a monetary regime based on free banking. In this paper I go a step further in the latter direction by drawing on the model of free banking that emerged in Athens in classical times and enabled the Athenian “empire” to turn the Attic drachma into the dollar of today, throughout the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, without causing major financial crises for over two centuries. More specifically, I argue that, even if the said model had not proved its potential as a highly successful historical precedent, as banker of the world, the U.S. ought to consider it as a benchmark for reference and adaptation, before an unexpected international financial crisis and/or the revolutionary technological developments in the front of gold-like digital currencies, precipitate a monetary regime change.

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