Acton Notes - President's Message

The mission of the The financial crisis is all over the news, but we can also go back 500 years ago to gain some knowledge here. The medieval economists wrote constantly about the dangers of manipu- lating the quality and quantity of money in an economy. This is why they worried about a kingly monopoly on money creation. They saw that this has dangerous economic effects. It results in depreciation. It distorts production by extending credit to some industries at the expense of others.

They also worried about the moral effects of inflation. It drives people to consume rather than save, to think about the pres- ent rather than the future, and to adopt an attitude of worldliness at the expense of the solitude and stability needed for a life of prayer.

I'm speaking here of the writings of Martin de Azpilcueta, Luis de Molina, and Juan de Mariana, among others. They are truly pro- phetic of our current times, which are rooted in a monetary dis- order. Interest-rate manipulation begun nearly ten years ago and caused an unviable boom in housing, and this boom conspired with subsidies to build a debt sector that collapsed when the monetary expansion stopped.

The Acton Institute is responsible for having republished the writ- ings of Azpilcueta, de Molina, and de Mariana in a book edited by Stephen Grabill: Sourcebook in Late-Scholastic Monetary Theory. These writers are theologians first, but they did not neglect science and did not fail to come to an understanding of the world around them. To the claim that our present troubles are due to markets, this book provides a compelling refutation.

Our troubles are not new and not unique. Neither are the solutions evasive. I'm grateful to the work of Acton scholars and to our bene- factors that this and many other writings on religion and economics are available today in ways that they were not in the past. They are needed now more than ever.


Rev. Robert A. Sirico, President