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Accounting for money with malleable words

August 3, 2017

Next week I will be attending a conference at the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  I worked there for a year about 10 years ago.  It’s a great place, with a great library as well as a fascinating history, including the work of the founder before, during and after the Crash of 1929 and subsequent monetary and banking developments.

The conference is titled “Sound Money, Free Banking, and Private Governance.”  My contribution is titled “Accounting For Money with Malleable Words.”  The introduction to my paper includes “What happens when imprecise words lead us into places we think we know, but places we don’t really know because the words are unreliable and/or deliberately misleading?  The use and abuse of word choice was a central concern of E.C. Harwood, and Dewey and Bentley.  In that spirit, I offer seven combustible naming issues for reflection and discussion:

  • Accounting for “cash” on the balance sheet
  • Accounting for “money” – a specific case (M3)
  • Accounting for federal government “assets,” as opposed to “resources”
  • Accounting for federal government “liabilities,” referencing Social Security
  • The federal “debt limit” and the meaning of “oblige”
  • The Social Security “Trust Fund”
  • “Balanced budget” requirements in state and local governments”
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