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By Milton Friedman

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The downward pressure on nominal prices was accompanied by rapid Page 12 economic growth. Nonetheless, it stimulated a political demand for monetary expansion which joined with the interests of Western mining states to produce agitation for the free coinage of silver. From the first victory of the silver forces in the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 to sometime after Bryan's defeat in 1896, the "money" question was the major political issue of the time, reaching its emotional zenith with Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President.

The proposals under each of these headings are independent in the sense that they are separately desirable whatever else is done or if nothing else is done, though the proposals for banking reform do involve a radical reshaping of the banking structure. In the concluding chapter, I shall turn to the criteria of monetary policy, which is to say, the use to be made of the tools and the banking structure previously discussed. This topic is inseparable from international monetary arrangements, which are therefore also examined in the last chapter.

Hence, the function of providing one is an essential governmental function on a par with the provision of a stable legal framework. The central tasks for government are also clear: to set an external limit to the amount of money and to prevent counterfeiting, broadly conceived. To accomplish the first, governments have specified the use of a particular commodity as a currency, established or accepted central banks, and imposed restrictions on who may issue promises to pay the basic money and on what terms; to accomplish the second, governments have not only used ordinary police measures but also have assumed for themselves a monopoly of issue of certain kinds of money, have regulated banks and other issuers of money, and have supervised their operation.

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