Monetary History in Ten Minutes

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Monetary History in Ten Minutes

August 23, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Money, moreover is the economic area most encrusted and entangled with centuries of government meddling. Many people – many economists – usually devoted to the free market stop short at money. Money, they insist, is different; it must be supplied by government and regulated by government. They never think of state control of money as interference in the free market… If we favor the free market in other directions, if we wish to eliminate government invasion of person and property, we have no more important task than to explore the ways and means of a free market in money.”Murray Rothbard

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,183. Gold closed at $1,343 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $46.81 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.58%. Bitcoin is trading around $585 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Little Maddie is rapidly approaching her second birthday, and I swear she is going on twelve. Like her mother, Madison is quite adept at the art of talking, and she communicates with us very well. This makes life so much easier when she tells us exactly what she wants for dinner; it makes life just a touch more difficult when she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and tells us she wants to watch Mickey Mouse.

While this seems terribly inconvenient to her parents now, I can only imagine how immaterial it will seem when Maddie is a teenager and we just hope she comes home before the wee hours of the morning. Nevertheless, it all makes perfect sense when she looks up at us with her blue eyes shining bright and says I love you sooo much!

Moving on to finance… Continue reading “Monetary History in Ten Minutes”

The Path to the Great Reset

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Path to the Great Reset

April 6, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

But if government manages to establish paper tickets or bank credit as money, as equivalent to gold grams or ounces, then the government, as dominant money-supplier, becomes free to create money costlessly and at will. As a result, this ‘inflation’ of the money supply destroys the value of the dollar or pound, drives up prices, cripples economic calculation, and hobbles and seriously damages the workings of the market economy.
Murray Rothbard

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,045. Gold closed at $1,229 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $35.89 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.78%. Bitcoin is trading around $423 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

I began writing a book titled The Individual is Rising back in 2013. The first edition was published in the summer of 2014, and then the updated, expanded, and revised second edition was published in August of 2015.

The central thesis of the book was that a financial “Great Reset” was on the horizon specifically due to the gross abuse and mismanagement of the monetary system that grew progressively more blatant over the course of the past century. Continue reading “The Path to the Great Reset”

The Majesty of Mindfulness

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Majesty of Mindfulness

March 11, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

“What if you could be more than you ever thought you could be? To be better than you thought you could be? Would you do it?”
– Paul Rosenberg, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men

The S&P closed out Thursday at $1,989. Gold closed at $1,273 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $37.84 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.93%. Bitcoin is trading around $412 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The 2016 presidential election cycle is now in full-force here in the United States. The yard signs are out, the politicians are demagoguing, the talking heads are raving, and the neighbors are arguing.

We need a socialist in office!”, some say. “We need to stick it to the Chinese!”, say others. “We need a knowledgeable leader who can get things done!”, others chime in. “We need more irish creme in my coffee!”, says I.

In my view, politics is a distraction for individuals at the micro level and the bane of human civilization at the macro level. Politics runs on fear, anger, hatred, envy, and intolerance – the emotions that bring out the absolute worst in people. Continue reading “The Majesty of Mindfulness”

Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky: the Fallacy of Keynesian Economics

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky: The Fallacy of Keynesian Economics

February 16, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

“There is no means of avoiding a final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”
-Ludwig von Mises

The S&P closed out Friday at $1,858. Gold closed at $1,239 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $29.44 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.64%. Bitcoin is trading around $405 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The snow has returned to the mountains of Virginia with another eight inches gracefully covering the ground. As winter continues to play out here on the home front, I can’t help but notice winter settling in over the financial markets as well. I expect the last three quarters of 2016 to be especially volatile.

Simply tracking the brief market updates in this journal series tells the basic story and highlights the budding trends. My last entry of 2015 observed the S&P comfortably perched at $2,056 while gold was safely out-of-sight at $1,068 per ounce. Crude oil was trading at $36.81 and the 10-year Treasury rate was 2.23%. A week later the S&P was slightly down while gold, oil, and the 10-year rate were slightly up. The following week the S&P had continued to fall to $1,938 while gold continued to rise to $1,085. Oil plummeted again to $30.44 and the 10-year rate fell to 2.10%.

These trends have continued week-after-week for the first two months of 2016. Today, the S&P is down 10% from its December high. Gold is up 15%, oil is down 24%, and the 10-year Treasury rate is down 28% over this same time period. This crude analysis very clearly demonstrates that capital is fleeing the U.S. equity markets and flowing into gold and U.S. Treasuries which are considered safe-haven assets. Meanwhile, we are seeing 12-year lows in crude oil and all-time lows in U.S. shale oil and gas companies.

Expanding our gaze a bit: we are seeing new 52-week lows in the major stock markets of Europe and Japan as well. European banks are particularly troubling as those stocks have fallen more to start 2016 than they did to start 2008. Further, we are seeing six-year lows in junk bonds as well as emerging markets.

All of this is occurring while the Federal Reserve proclaims the economy healthy and ready for “normalization” policies. But what is normal? Continue reading “Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky: the Fallacy of Keynesian Economics”

Decentralization and Spontaneous Order

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Decentralization and Spontaneous Order

November 25, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,084. Gold closed at $1,074 per ounce. Oil closed at $42.87 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.25%. Bitcoin is trading around $324 per BTC today.

Not much action in the markets this week as Wall Street humanoids are gearing up for the big holiday on Thursday. Only the high-frequency trading machines remain to trade back-and-forth with one another for a few days. Despite this calm, I get the sense that a big move is brewing…

Also worth mentioning, I appeared on the SovereignBTC podcast with host John Bush last week. We had a blast talking about many of the topics I often muse on here in the Journal. If you would like to listen to the interview, you can find it at the LTB Network here.

Dear Journal,

“That was really sweet what you wrote about Madison…” wife Rachel said after reading my previous journal entry. “But the only thing you said about me was that I wouldn’t read past a certain point!”

“Well did you read past that paragraph?”, I asked with a wry grin on my face.

“No, that’s as far as I got…”

My last entry discussed the potential for the family unit to act as a sovereign institution in light of the burgeoning Great Reset, much to the benefit of both the sovereign family and the local community. The underlying theme of that entry, and of many recent journal entries, has been decentralization.

I seek to offer my unfiltered perspective when I sit down to write these journal entries, and I only write them when motivated to do so for that reason. That’s why the Journal follows no set schedule whatsoever, though I try my best to post a weekly entry. Sometimes when I re-read my unfiltered entries, however, I get the feeling that readers may come away with a more negative sentiment then I intend to convey. Continue reading “Decentralization and Spontaneous Order”

Economics in One Lesson

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Economics in One Lesson

June 29, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Friday at $2,101. Gold closed at $1,175 per ounce. Oil checked out at $60 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.48%, and bitcoin is trading around $246 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

We are back in the mountains of Virginia after our annual family gathering in Emerald Isle, NC. Last week, in addition to enjoying the beautiful Crystal Coast, I thought about the modern credit system that has been in place since 1971.

Speaking of last week’s journal entry, I felt a little clarification was in order after re-reading it myself. Lest the reader think otherwise, I am no Luddite and I have nothing against commercial development. I simply believe very strongly in the old capitalist principle that said commercial development should be fueled by actual capital that was formed from production and savings. Instead of capital, the modern credit system fuels commercial development with credit created ex nihilo. No one forewent present consumption to build said credit, and this dynamic creates distortions and malinvestment that accumulate over time.

The capitalist sees a private beach and wonders if commercial development would be a worthwhile endeavor. Does the market want three story luxury homes by the beach and cheap surf shops on the island? Will these projects be profitable? Will they attract additional capital to the area? To the capitalist, the focus is on individual human action. Private capital is then heavily deployed if commercial development is pursued. Continue reading “Economics in One Lesson”

How I Escaped the Rat-Race

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How I Escaped the Rat-Race

May 28, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,123 – almost exactly where it was at the same time last week. Gold closed at $1,186 per ounce yesterday. Oil checked out at $57 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.13%, and bitcoin is trading around $238 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

We are back in the serene mountains of Virginia after a week spent on the gorgeous Carolina coast. Madison’s first beach trip was a success and we enjoyed five consecutive days of low 80’s with a cool breeze. Your editor even squeezed in a half-day fishing trip towards the end of the week after building up Dad points by handling Maddie’s late morning nap time indoors for the first several days so Momma could lay in the sand.

Last week I shared with you my view of the coming monetary crisis and I promised to expand upon what I have done to prepare for it and how I managed to escape the rat-race in the process.

Career is often one of the first items up for discussion when catching up with friends. You know the process: “What are you doing now? How’s that going? Do you like it?”

I find that very few friends tell me they like their job. Most say it is okay or tolerable. Some say they are miserable for one reason or another. Even the ones who say their job is tolerable express a certain sense of anxiety on Sunday afternoons as they look forward to the grind starting back up for another week.

Despite this, most people become addicted to their paycheck because they fashion their lifestyle accordingly. A couple things tend to happen when the paycheck gets bigger: the house gets bigger, the car gets nicer, and the hobbies become a little more luxurious. The problem is many of these things come with monthly payments. The big house comes with a big mortgage and strong HOA dues. The nice car comes with a big car payment and probably a satellite radio subscription. The luxury hobbies might include membership fees of various kinds: country clubs, golf courses, dinner clubs, mega-gyms, etc.

Now there is nothing wrong with any of this unless your goal is to escape the rat-race. If so, you need your paycheck to maximize capital rather than support your lifestyle. The following is the abbreviated version of how I went about maximizing capital so I could leave the rat-race in the dust.

My first step was mental: I crafted a vision of living outside the rat-race as I became more disillusioned with corporate America. I had been working in the corporate banking world for several years by this point and I had worked my way up to a comfortable salary relative to my circumstances. I was contributing the standard 3% match rate to my 401(k) and I was maxing out my self-driven IRA each year as I had been educated to do so I had a decent financial cushion to start with.

I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses and pretty soon I was able to trim the fat and start saving 75% of my net income each month. I didn’t become cheap for its own sake – I still took my fiancé (now wife) out to dinner every Friday – but I did stop all frivolous spending. Though I couldn’t see far enough ahead to envision my day of liberation, I did know that I would be able to break the employment chains in the near future if I amassed a decent pool of working capital.

As my knowledge of Austrian economics grew, so did my appreciation for the precious metals. I began to make periodic trips to the local coin shop to redirect some of my monthly savings into gold and silver bullion. I didn’t originally have an asset allocation model in place so my purchases were somewhat sporadic but I did accumulate a (relatively speaking) decent precious metals base over the course of a year.

Austrian economics also helped me see how the housing bubble was being partially re-inflated by the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Private equity firms like Blackstone and American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R) were taking advantage of this easy money to buy up huge quantities of single family homes in the U.S. to build their rental real estate portfolios. These private equity companies were taking the Fed’s cheap credit at near-zero rates to buy middle class homes which they rented back out to the middle class with a huge profit margin built in. Now there is nothing wrong with reaping huge profits as long as they are honestly gained but there is a major problem with a system that distorts the market economy in favor of special interest groups.

I was bothered by what was going on in the housing market but I also understood that I was powerless to change it. Therefore I did the next best thing – I took advantage of the situation and sold my home to AH4R for a sizable gain. Some of that gain went to pay the real estate agent’s commission and I rolled the rest into a down payment on a 5-acre rural property at the end of a gravel road way up in the mountains which is where I reside today.

My goal for our mountain home was to make it as resilient as possible such that we could be totally self-sufficient for at least six months should hard times befall us. I don’t have room in this entry to go into the specifics, but we accomplished this by securing surplus water, food, provisions, and energy sources. The end result is that I am confident in my household’s ability to be self-sufficient for at least six months should the need arise which means our livelihood is not solely dependent upon consistent monthly income. The cost to maintain this self-sufficiency is pretty negligible after the initial purchases are made.

It took me roughly six months to complete these base self-sufficiency preparations and then it was time to hone in on my finances. I set up a spreadsheet to monitor my asset allocation model and I established the initial allocation ratios: 29.5% cash, 10% precious metals, 15% stocks, 0.5% bitcoin, and 45% real estate.

I was already in excess of my cash and real estate allocation because of my 75% savings habit and my 20% down payment on our 5-acre property so I used the excess cash outside of my IBC policy to bring the precious metals, stocks, and bitcoin allocations up to par.

All the while I was researching how to build location-independent income streams online in my spare time. There are more entrepreneurial opportunities today than ever before in modern history. Thanks to the internet anyone can reach millions of prospective customers with just the click of a button and there are very few barriers to entry. This means all you need to be an entrepreneur is a product that provides value to people in some capacity and a basic understanding of online marketing techniques. It requires very little capital to launch these types of products. More importantly, you can launch these products without needing to obtain permission from the government first in the form of certifications and licenses. In comparison, try to start a traditional brick & mortar business without government permission and see how that experience goes.

So to recap:

• I invested in my own education first by developing a strong understanding of Austrian free market economics.
• I purchased a rural 5 acre property with advantageous financing.
• I made ample water, food, energy, and provision preparations so as to be self-sufficient on this property for at least six months should the need arise.
• I shored up my asset allocation model to spread my capital across several asset classes: cash, precious metals, stocks, bitcoin, and real estate.
• I began to build location-independent income streams online.

I have an entire chapter dedicated to the specifics involved in this process in the 2nd edition of The Individual is Rising which I hope to launch later this summer. I will keep you posted as that progresses.

I will sum up this entry by repeating a common theme here at Zenconomics: life is meant to be lived.

It is up to you to make your life exciting and meaningful – no one else will do it for you. This requires a break from Modernity which emphasizes a fear & control mindset intended to put life in a box and stomp out any potential randomness before it happens. We are all conditioned to live within Modernity’s box so it is difficult to step outside and blaze your own path. But your life may depend on doing just that.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and creating diversified income streams please read “The Individual is Rising: 2nd addition” which will be available later this year. Please sign up for the notifications mailing list at

Who is John Galt?

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Who Is John Galt?

May 21, 2015
Topsail Island, NC

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,125. Gold closed at $1,209 per ounce. Oil checked out at $58 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.25%, and bitcoin is trading around $234 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

It has been two months since my previous entry… sorry about that. Little Madison is now seven months old and much of your editor’s time has been spent learning about life from her.

It is simply amazing to watch an infant’s development. One day she is completely immobile and then all of a sudden she is sitting up on her own. Then she is picking up her toys and banging them together. Then she is rolling from her back to her belly and back again while stretching to reach for a toy that is just out of her grasp. And those blue eyes shine with intelligence, curiosity, and love the entire time.

The first thing Madison does when she wakes up in the morning is smile a smile that lights up the room. She is so happy simply to have the opportunity to be here for another day. It’s a shame we adults do not often have that same outlook.

Along with learning from my daughter, I have also spent considerable time over the past two months preparing for the next step of my liberation plan.

As my bio states, I began a transformational journey a few years back in which I walked away from corporate America and moved to the mountains of rural Virginia. Somehow I managed to get wife Rachel to go along with this plan… I think wine must have been strategically involved in the negotiations.

The idea was to purchase a property with a little bit of land in a rural area with a low cost of living to create a higher overall quality of life with less exposure to the fragile monetary system as captained by the Federal Reserve which will one day explode and drastically reduce the quality of life for many Americans.

No one knows when this fraudulent monetary system will crash and burn but I have no doubt that the day is coming. You just can’t create trillions of dollars from thin air and then spend them like they are real money and expect this to work indefinitely. It is a basic principle of the Universe that all actions have opposing reactions in some capacity. Try as they might, the Ivy Leaguers at the Federal Reserve do not have the power to alter reality. They only have the power to kick the can down the road.

Many people are beginning to wake up to this central banking fraud that began in America in 1913 and really ramped up in 1971, and the initial reaction is to push for reform. Some want better people running the system. Others want rules-based policy. Still others want to transfer monetary authority from the Fed back to Congress. Those of us who study Austrian Economics say the answer is to let the free market reign and End the Fed altogether – in a responsible manner if possible.

Alas, the consequences of this reckless monetary policy are now unavoidable whether or not any real change actually occurs. The Federal Reserve’s credit expansion is exponential in nature, as I touched on back in January. More and more credit must be created from nothing just to keep the system afloat. The system teeters on the edge every time the credit slows. One day the system will fall and those who are most dependent upon easy credit, monetary expansion, and the government programs they finance will be in a very unfortunate situation. This is true of individuals dependent upon government programs and it is true of the industries that benefit most from this fraudulent monetary system. The social welfare system, the military-industrial complex, and the financial system will all be decimated as benefits evaporate and jobs go up in smoke. What does the economy look like if social welfare programs, including Social Security, dissipate just as the financial sector freezes up?

As bleak as this is, there are individual solutions available. For me, the solution began with a question: Who is John Galt?

The idea behind my personal exodus from corporate America in a major financial center stemmed from “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. Though I fundamentally do not care for Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy, her portrayal of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged really resonated with me.

A budding engineer in corporate America, John Galt began to see the corrupt political system for what it really was – naked force used against the population for the benefit of the politically connected. Rather than exhaust his energy fighting the corrupt system, John sidestepped it. He moved to a remote location and focused his creative energies on building a better system and he invited others of like mind to join him in this effort.

This idea jumped off the page (and screen) at me. We are all conditioned to fundamentally accept the current system as permanent and necessary therefore any dissent is directed towards either reforming or capturing the system via a political party. This has led to conflict, often violent, throughout modern history as opposing groups vie for political power.

John Galt had the wisdom to reject the use of force as a means of social order so he simply withdrew his consent from the system entirely. He didn’t try to fight the system. He didn’t try to change the system from within. He didn’t organize mass protests against the system. He worked to make the system obsolete by demonstrating a better way of engaging with others in society.

While “Atlas Shrugged” focused on big business tycoons, modern technology today can empower every individual to walk away from the System without necessarily sacrificing their quality of life. I am publishing this journal entry from the beach in Topsail Island, NC but it will be read by people in other parts of the U.S. as well as in other countries. That is a very powerful concept which is unprecedented in history. The internet enables individuals to trade goods, services, and information with anyone, anywhere, at any time. One can even use apolitical digital currency such as Bitcoin to facilitate these transactions. This opens up a whole new world for the enterprising individual!

We are currently at a crossroads where the old ways are transitioning into the new. We do not want to discard the valuable wisdom gained over the past century but we do want to move away from a system that treats individuals like milk cows.

Such a societal transformation can only be done on the individual level; it cannot be forced upon others. The Republicans thought they were leading a revolution back towards limited government in the 80’s when they got Ronald Reagan elected. Instead, deficits and debt skyrocketed under Reagan and the military-industrial complex managed to capture the Republican Party. Likewise, the Democrats thought they were leading a progressive revolution towards egalitarianism and transparency when they got Barack Obama elected in 2008. Instead, the Obama administration has expanded the wealth gap even further by catering to the special interests while being the least transparent administration in history – a very impressive feat considering George W. Bush had just set that record himself over the prior eight years.

The point is, the System is not going to reform or restrain itself. It is going to continue to engorge itself on the American middle class until it blows up. I don’t fault anyone who truly seeks to change the system via the political process, but I am convinced it cannot be done in any meaningful way. The political system can be used effectively as an educational platform, as Ron Paul demonstrated, but not as a tool to structurally restrain the System.

So, to come full circle, I advanced one more step in my personal liberation plan last Friday as I worked my final day as a W-2 employee. Then I took the next logical step – I took my family to the beach.

Next week I will expand upon how I was able to resign from my job and leave the rat race in the rear-view mirror.

Until then the Carolina coast calls…







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the paradigm shift currently in motion please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

The Real War on the Middle Class

by Ron Paul – Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:Ron Paul

One of the great ironies of American politics is that most politicians who talk about helping the middle class support policies that, by expanding the welfare-warfare state, are harmful to middle-class Americans. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state would benefit middle-class Americans by freeing them from exorbitant federal taxes, including the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax.

Politicians serious about helping middle-class Americans should allow individuals to opt out of Social Security and Medicare by not having to pay payroll taxes if they agree to never accept federal retirement or health care benefits. Individuals are quite capable of meeting their own unique retirement and health care needs if the government stops forcing them into one-size-fits-all plans.

Middle-class families with college-age children would benefit if government got out of the student loan business. Government involvement in higher education is the main reason tuition is skyrocketing and so many Americans are graduating with huge student loan debts. College graduates entering the job market would certainly benefit if Congress stopped imposing destructive regulations and taxes on the economy.

Politicians who support an interventionist foreign policy are obviously not concerned with the harm inflicted on the middle-class populations of countries targeted for regime change. These politicians also disregard the harm US foreign policy inflicts on Americans. Middle- and working-class Americans, and their families, who join the military certainly suffer when they are maimed or killed fighting in unjust and unconstitutional wars. Our interventionist foreign policy also contributes to the high tax burden imposed on middle-class Americans.

Middle-class Americans also suffer from intrusions on their liberty and privacy, such as not being able to board an airplane unless they submit to invasive and humiliating searches. Even children and the physically disabled are not safe from the Transposition Security Administration. These assaults are justified by the threat of terrorism, a direct result of our interventionist foreign policy that fosters hatred and resentment of Americans.

Some “military Keynesians” claim that middle-class workers benefit from jobs in the military-industrial complex. Military Keynesians seem to think that the resources spent on militarism would disappear if the Pentagon’s budget were cut. The truth is, if we reduced spending on militarism, those currently employed by the military-industrial complex would be able to find new jobs producing goods desired by consumers. Even those currently employed as lobbyists for the military-industrial complex may be able to find useful work.

Few things would benefit the middle class more than ending the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies erode middle-class families’ standards of living while benefiting the financial and political elites. Middle-class Americans may gain some temporary benefits from Federal Reserve created booms, but they also suffer from the inevitable busts.

As I write this, the dollar still reigns as the world’s reserve currency. However, there are signs that other economies are moving away from using the dollar as the reserve currency, and this trend will accelerate as the Federal Reserve continues to pump more fiat currency into the economy and as resentment toward our foreign policy grows. Eventually, international investors will lose confidence in the US economy, the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, and the dollar bubble will burst.
These events will cause a major economic downturn that may even be worse than the Great Depression. The main victims of this crisis will be average Americans. The only way to avoid this calamity is for the American people to force Congress to free them from the burdens of the warfare state, the welfare state, taxation, and fiat currency.

Article originally posted at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.