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The pathbreaking book first appeared in 1976, during an inflationary bout in the United States. Hayek argued that it is crucial to the health of the market as a whole to bring the forces of competition to bear in currency markets, not just between countries but within them as well.
All people should be free to use any currency of their own choosing, Hayek contended, even if that means rejecting the favored domestic one. This provides a check against inflation, permitting citizens to keep assets denominated in any unit.
Governments will thus have greater incentive to avoid inflating because a depreciating unit will lead people to flee to other currencies. At least this would work as some check, and it would be a great improvement over the existing system in which citizens in a currency region are caged sheep led to the slaughter.
This book is an important work in part because it represents a reform that could take place right now, one that would change the institutional incentives faced by central banks. This is not Hayek's full plan for sound money but rather a creative idea to diminish the total power of central banks within individual countries. It was a good idea in 1976, and it's still a good idea in the 21st century.
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