George Selgin

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George Selgin
InstitutionThe Cato Institute
FieldMacroeconomics, Monetary theory and Banking theory, Monetary history
School or
Free Banking
Alma materNew York University (PhD) 1986
Drew University (B.A.) 1979
InfluencesFriedrich Hayek
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

George Selgin (/ˈsɛlɪn/; born 1957) is the Director of the Cato Institute's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, where he is editor-in-chief of the Center's blog, Alt-M,[1] Professor Emeritus of economics at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, and an associate editor of Econ Journal Watch.[2] Selgin formerly taught at George Mason University, the University of Hong Kong, and West Virginia University.

Life and career[edit]

Selgin's principal research areas are monetary and banking theory, monetary history, and macroeconomics. He is one of the founders, along with Kevin Dowd and Lawrence H. White, of the Modern Free Banking School,[3] which draws its inspiration from the writings of Friedrich Hayek on denationalization of money and choice in currency.[4] A central claim of the Free Banking School is that the effects of government intervention in monetary systems cannot be properly appreciated except with reference to a theory of monetary laissez-faire, analogous to the theory of free trade that informs the modern understanding of the effects of tariffs and other trade barriers.[5] The free bankers argue that, viewed in light of such a theory, financial crises and business cycles are largely attributable to misguided government interference with freely-evolved and competitive monetary arrangements, including legislation granting central banks exclusive rights to issue paper currency.[6]

Selgin is also known for his research on coinage, including studies of Gresham's Law[7] and of private minting of coins during Great Britain's Industrial Revolution,[8] and for his advocacy of a "productivity norm" for monetary policy—a plan that would have policymakers target the growth-rate of nominal gross domestic product at a level that would allow the overall price level to decline along with goods' real (unit) costs of production.[9] According to Selgin, by preventing mild deflation in response to productivity gains, monetary authorities risk inadvertently fueling unsustainable booms or economic bubbles, setting the stage for consequent busts and recession.[10]

His twin brother is author and illustrator Peter Selgin.



  • Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage (2008). ISBN 978-0-472-11631-7.
  • Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order (1996). ISBN 0-415-14056-0.
  • Less Than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy (1997). ISBN 0-255-36402-4.
  • Readings in Money and Banking (1995). ISBN 0-536-58930-5.
  • The Theory of Free Banking: Money Supply under Competitive Note Issue (1988). ISBN 0-8476-7578-5.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2009-08-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Gedeon, Shirley (1997). "The modern free banking school: a review". Journal of Economic Issues. 31.
  4. ^ Hayek, Friedrich (1976). Denationalisation of Money: The Argument Refined. London: Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived from the original on 2010-12-09. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  5. ^ Selgin, George; Lawrence H. White (December 1994). "How would the invisible hand handle money?". Journal of Economic Literature. American Economic Association. 32 (4): 1718–49. JSTOR 2728792.
  6. ^ E.g., Selgin, George (Fall 1989). "Legal restrictions, financial weakening, and the lender of last resort" (PDF). The Cato Journal. 9 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  7. ^ "Gresham's Law". EH.Net Encyclopedia. June 9, 2003. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013.
  8. ^ Selgin, George (2008). Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press and the Independent Institute. ISBN 0-472-11631-2.
  9. ^ Selgin, George (Spring–Summer 1990). "Monetary Equilibrium and the Productivity Norm of Price-Level Policy" (PDF). The Cato Journal. 10 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-03-28. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  10. ^ White, William R. (2006). "Is price stability enough?". BIS Working Paper 205. Basel, Switzerland: Bank for International Settlements.

External links[edit]