The “Amero” Debuts in Kazakhstan

Anarchy…or…the Amero?

One thing I have been asked about at several public lectures I’ve made in Kazakhstan is when the “Amero” is going to be introduced, whether it is a plan to cancel the value of all dollars held abroad and shift to a new currency, thus robbing foreign holders of dollars of their value, etc. When I say that the “Amero” is an urban myth, that there is no serious discussion of such an abandonment of the Canadian, US, and Mexican currencies, that it seems to be more prominently discussed in Kazakhstan than in the US, etc., I get some astonished stares for my apparent ignorance of what is really happening. One person in a meeting pointed out that “they already have a name for it!” I responded that I could propose a union of the Tenge and the Ruble and name it the “Tuble,” but that doesn’t mean that there must be serious plans actually to abolish the Tenge and the Ruble in favor of the Tuble.

It’s a piece with the wacko fantasies about the “North American Union.” Once some people get it into their heads, no request for confirming evidence seems capable of getting them to question it. Conspiracy theories are very hard to disprove; the lack of evidence for them is just more proof that they must be right — after all, if there weren’t a conspiracy, why was the evidence all covered up?

19 Responses to “The “Amero” Debuts in Kazakhstan”

  1. Joe Strummer

    Of course the specific theory is a myth. But the insight – that foreign investors holding American dollars are going to be robbed of value – is basically right given the inflationary pressures on the dollar. Whether the United States has to re-issue “The New Dollar” to stabilize its value in the future, or whether it has to put the interest rate at 20-25 percent to get inflation under control is just a technical difference in how it’s accomplished.

  2. Adam Allouba

    Since your questioners have such confidence in the omnipotence and omniscience of the ubiquitous “they,” you should explain that the plans for the Amero are surely stored with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

  3. MicroBalrog

    Oh please. Not everybody who believes that the international agreements – NAFTA, CAFTA, the EU, WHATEVERAFTA – are a threat to US national sovereignty is a conspiracy theorist. I do not believe in conspiracies. But I do believe in trends.

    What do the agreements actually do, when you read them?

    The simplest way to have free trade is to repeal tariffs and let people import and export their products freely. This is what Milton Friedman would recommend, if he were alive. That’s not what the treaties do, though. A lot of people feel – and they’re probably wrong – that simply doing that is not enough because it enables nations to set their own regulations that would be just tariffs under another name, or harm their consumers if a neighboring nation had lower regulations then them.

    So what such treaties often do is establish a network of unified regulations that apply to all member states. The EU Schengen agreement, for example, mandates gun registration throughout all signatory states, as well as various anti-drug conditions, and so forth.

    Once such a treaty is signed, the individual member states (and, more importantly, their citizens) lose the ability to affect these topics in their own countries to some extent. A new center of regulatory power is born – for example, Brussels in Europe. This is indeed dangerous.

    It is irresponsible to ridicule those who oppose this.

  4. Tom G. Palmer

    I did not say that everyone who questions international agreements is a kook. But people who believe that the Amero is obviously planned and will be implemented soon are victims of an urban myth. There is no evidence for it.

    It is not irresponsible to point out the lack of evidence available to support crazy conspiracy theories. In fact, it is the responsible thing to do. I don’t worry much about “sovereignty,” which I consider to be a statist and illiberal concept to begin with (it refers to a person or group that is above the law), but I do worry about super states and the dangers that they pose to liberty. That said, I don’t worry about claims that the Martians are behind those super states. Obsession with the “Amero” or with the “North American Union” or the “Super Highway from Mexico to Canada” (oddly, it’s never the “Super Highway from Canada to Mexico”) is a sign that one is a crank.

    What is irresponsible is to confuse serious concerns about overreaching centralized governmental powers with kooky obsessions and fantasies that exist only in the minds of the kooks, even if — as Tom DiLorenzo pointed out in defense of his own kooky obsession with the alleged “Super Highway” — “It is even described on Wikipedia.” (Ever the scholar, that DiLorenzo.)

  5. MicroBalrog

    Perhaps I misspoke. The term “sovereignty” is perhaps not useful here. Perhaps the useful term is “local independence”.

    The goal of libertarianism is to bring government as close to the individual as possible. If something cannot be privatized (for example, minarchists generally believe that national defense cannot be privatized in a meaningful manner), then it must be controlled in as democratic and open manner as possible. The military should be controlled by a democratic central government, and if we are to have public schools (which I don’t think we should, but bear with me here) then they are to be controlled by elected school boards. To what extent we are to have government, it should be democratic and accessible. The perfect model is the local city council or a town hall meeting (though of course this is an idealized model).

    The obvious trend of statism is in the reverse. It seeks to make government less centralized and less democratic, in the sense that an individual, ‘ordinary’ citizen has less and less democratic recourse.. As the centralized state grows both in territory and in the amount of issues it covers, it becomes difficult for the parliament or Congress to address every issue in a democratic manner. Thus you have 1,400-page bills, appointed bureaucrats making ‘rulings’, etc. Another effect of statism is to create a class of people who are far more important in decision-making – professional politicians, bureaucrats, and corporations, privileged through regulatory capture, lobbying, or direct corruption.

    Which leads me to three conclusions:

    1.A transnational state is terrible. You can reasonably schedule a meeting with your city councilman (if the city ain’t to big) or even run for school board and win. Now imagine you lived in a country covering all of North America in, say, Tijuana, and the national capital was in, say, Vancouver, and the educational policy would be set by the Minister of Education. Apart from voting once per however many year (in elections in which your vote had almost unnoticeable weight), you would have little meaningful ways to directly affect things. Now, Hamilton would argue this is awesome. I ain’t Hamilton.
    2.The modern state is not as democratic as it claims to be. I do not mean here that we secretly live in a dictatorship. I merely mean that some people have more power to influence events than others, far more power. The powerful people have their own meet-ups and hangouts – the CFR, the Bilderberg Hotel, etc. I do not mean to say here that these hangouts are conspiracies – merely that a place called “Hotel de Bilderberg” exists, and important people do meet there. Thus, it is useful to be careful about what is being said there – it teaches us about important political and societal trends.
    3.There are not conspiracies, but there are trends. Generally, the world trends are towards greater centralization and the increase of power of supranational authorities. EU sprang from an international trade agreement, and it is gathering more and more power to brussels with every year A NAU is a not-unlikely conclusion of current trends of international regulation and ‘co-operation.

    P.S. I see Cato has sites in Arabic, Russian, and Spanish. Is there a chance for a site in Hebrew?

    P.P.S. After some googling, I found this ‘highway’ you refer to. It’s called Highway 69, and it seems fairly extant to me.

  6. MicroBalrog

    Sorry about that. There’s a typo in my post above.

    “. It seeks to make government less centralized and less democratic, in
    the sense that an individual, ‘ordinary’ citizen has less and less democratic recourse.”

    I meant to say “more centralized”.

  7. Tom G. Palmer

    Ok, fine. I could quibble a bit with your case (local governments can be deeply oppressive and federal governments often offer a wider set of choices for liberty than autarkic local ones), but none of that has anything to do with wacko theories about how the Amero is going to replace the Dollar and wipe out the dollar holdings of Kazakhs or Kenyans. (Inflationary policies on behalf of the Fed are capable of doing that without introducing a new currency.)

    And of course you can drive from Mexico to Canada (as I mentioned, they never refer to the horrors of driving from Canada to Mexico). There is an interconnecting set of routes that will let you do that. But the kooks have warned of a “Super Highway” (whatever that means) connecting the two countries, as if connecting them by road were a terrible idea. They have been connected by roads for a long time. So what? Denmark and Turkey are connected by roads, too. You can actually drive from “Turkey to Denmark”! Oh, no!

    The crackpots who yammer on about this issue imply that the “Super Highway” will split the US into two parts (that’s the mental image they try to conjure up) and have even mentioned that…”They” will hire a “Spanish” (let’s stoke up the anti-hispanic hysteria as much as possible!) firm to build “it.” Whoa.

    This article has some of the inside dope:

    The Arabic, Russian, Persian, Chinese, etc. platforms are now administered by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation:
    No plans for a Hebrew initiative (the number of speakers is relatively small and most speak foreign languages already), but I’d recommend visiting a number of sites in Israel, including and


  8. MicroBalrog

    >No plans for a Hebrew initiative (the number of speakers is relatively small and most speak foreign >languages already), but I’d recommend visiting a number of sites in Israel, including http://www.jims->,, and some other sites.

    I am well aware of these. I would not speak that highly of ICSEP (I attended their student program and got their tuition). Daniel Doron takes time on the lectures to comment about the military draft (which he thinks is awesome and helps young men ‘mature’) and about the Evil Muslim Threat [tm]. But unfortunately we have no better libertarians. I do like Kav Yashar ( and, which take a more consistent pro-liberty stance. I sometimes write for myself so I may be biased, there. 😀

    The question is not what the Amero is going to be (of course, I suspect Rothbard may be right in the sense that multinational currencies may emerge in the future as a natural consequence of central banking). The questions is: do we discount the threat of liberty posed by transnational organizations like EU/NAFTA/SHCHMAFTA or a potential NAU, or do we head it off at the pass?

    And I’m not really certain why you insist on the importance of this highway, or of the myths its existence engendered. It’s a complete side-issue.

  9. Tom G. Palmer

    Let me repeat: there is no Amero. It is a fantasy of crackpots, who are the same people who invented the myth of the North American Union (no plans for that, either) and the “Super Highway.” They all come from the same people, and the “Amero” meme was introduced as a part of the fear of the “North American Union” and the “Super Highway.” None of them exist or are planned. It’s all craziness.

    The fears of NAFTA, WTO, etc. are also greatly blown out of proportion. They haven no enforcement powers. They are treaties, with adjudication procedures. That’s it. No loss of independence or “sovereignty.” No black helicopters. No secret submarines. No jack-booted WTO troops.

    The centralization of power in the EU is a serious issue. (That said, the EU has done a great deal of good in knocking down barriers to trade and eliminating oppressive statism; it’s not a black-and-white issue.) But NAFTA has done a great deal of good, as has CAFTA. They are treaties governing trade, not super states. And they aren’t at all likely to turn into super states. I’d prefer moving to unilateral free trade, of course, but NAFTA and CAFTA are better than what preceded them, and better is better. The big move should be toward unilateralism, but I should add: don’t let the best be the enemy of the better. (The economic nationalists and protectionists have used that trope before. Just like the enemies of allowing gay marriage say, “hey, let’s just denationalize marriage instead” — that won’t happen, so they get to be opposed to allowing gay people to be married, which is what they wanted in the first place. Same for the protectionists, who rope in some weak-minded people by saying, “Oppose NAFTA, since it’s not unilateral free trade,” knowing full well that they are defanging the free traders, not empowering them.)

  10. MicroBalrog

    >one of them exist or are planned.

    Obviously, nobody who means anything has ever said “Let’s have a North American Union and step on American freedoms with heavy, iron-studded boots while we sing the Internationale and eat babies! Heil Hitler!” But then again, neither did they say anything like that when the European Community was founded. It was supposed to be a “mere” free trade agreement. In the same way, a NAU evolving from the NAFTA via the SPP is a viable threat.

    That there is no NAFTA police force is of little relevance to this. The EU issues directives and they are enforced by local police forces. The EU has effectively put a ceiling on how free an EU member state can be. Right now, the EU mandates that all firearms be registered and licensed (surely you would agree with me that this is important for libertarians), that no European country have a VAT lower than 15%, mandate a variety of commercial regulations – all in exchange for… what, being able to travel between European countries and paying no tariffs?

    Let us forget here that the majority of the Union’s budget goes on business subsidies. principally farm subsidies but also ‘infrastructure’ public works spending, that its common fisheries policy has destroyed private property in fish and thus the entire continent and much of Africa and S America’s fish stocks.

    The most important damage the EU has genuinely accomplished is to put a ceiling on how free the people of any given European country can be. Which means that even if some political shift towards freedom occurs in, say, Italy, they would not be able to fully implement it until the same shift occurs throughout the entire Union. Which is… rather unlikely.

    So we have lost a great degree of freedom (or tools to gain more freedom in the future) in exchange for forming a customs union? The tale of Esau and Jacob seems relevant here.

    As for your claims re: the perfect and the good, perhaps L. Neil Smith is relevant here:

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good”, you say? I say that if nobody ever insisted on the perfect, there’d never be any good. “

  11. Praetonia

    I’ve been reading the debate on the comment section and I think a lot of it is interesting. I agree that talking about the conspiracy theories is not generally helpful, if for no other reason than that, as they are regarded as conspiracy theories, no one takes you seriously if you talk about them.

    I do think that the emergence of these very similar trade blocs seemingly everywhere is a cause for greater debate and concern than presently exists, though, particularly as they now cover almost the entirety of the world: ASEAN, the North American Union, Mercosur, the EU, the Arab Union, even an African Union – the latter with the hilariously real plan to introduce the “Afro” as the continent-wide currency – who can blame exciteable people for thinking it’s some sort of conspiracy?

    In fact, it is rather more mundane than that, it is really just a rather more involved and sophisticated development of international trade negotiations which have been going on since the beginning of time and have never much interested the general populace except where it directly impacts on some special interest or other. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about it, especially as free marketeers, since these negotiations rarely have resulted in much free trade in the past. I don’t think they are here, either.

    The fact is that all of these purported “free trade areas” are really customs unions, designed to give their members more clout to fight mercantilist-style “trade wars” with the other blocs. This might not be your perception, as an American, some way behind the curve, but this sort of rhetoric is used quite frequently in British public life with regard to the EU.

    That’s the external effect, anyway, but what about the internal effect, where you contend a great deal of good is done eliminating barriers between the members. Well, on the face of it, this is correct. There really are no longer tarrifs between European countries. But this hides the full picture, because you’re also right to say that the EU is not just a treaty that bans tarrifs and subsidies, it’s a effectively a state in all but name, and this state is a very intrusive regulator – it just regulates everybody the same.

    This is very much the whole point. In the past, despite tarrifs and subsidies a country could always outcompete its neighbours – even if trade was banned entirely – by simply adopting pro-business policies, cutting tax and regulation. The EU is increasingly harmonising taxation and regulation so that this sort of competition to create favourable business conditions no longer occurs. This is most clear with regard the EU’s dealings with Switzerland, which has come under enormous pressure to increase the amount of tax it charges to be in line with the EU average – and has even been accused of being anti-competitive and protectionist by the EU for having sub-EU tax rates!

    It’s very misleading, in fact, to accuse the EU of trying to become a “federal superstate”. It wants no such thing. A meaningful federation would completely undermine the policy of harmonisation – it wants a unitary superstate, at least on tax and regulation matters, but that necessarily overlaps with practically everything except perhaps some aspects of criminal justice, and increasingly the British government, among others, is finding that it has to introduce unpopular proposals – and that opposition parties cannot propose policies they would support and that would be popular because doing so would not be compatible with EU membership.

    It’s true, of course, that the EU does not compel us to remain a part of them. There is no chance of French troops being deployed to London if we tried to “secede”, as the ‘conspiracy theorist’ wing of the British blogosphere does sometimes claim. But for politicians, in practice, the “accept all our rules, and your fines for breaking them, or else leave entirely” is completely sufficient. Rocking the boat that much over any one thing would be unthinkable, and the EU tends to avoid making itself so unpopular that this sort of approach would be demanded by the general public.

    Like I said before, I dont think it’s a conspiracy or that it is inevitable, but it does seem all these other regional trade blocs are going the same way toward becoming anti-liberal, tax ‘n’ regulate social democrat superstates of dubious democratic credentials.

    If anywhere else, it’s least likely to happen in America, but it still might. Not because it’s a conspiracy, but for precisely the reasons I stated at the beginning – as it starts out, it’s just mundane business-as-usual trade talks, that no one is that much interested in, but then it starts to have huge, necessary side-effects, because it simply isnt true that there is a seperation of ‘social’ from ‘economic’ freedom.

    You might well rejoinder that this is the best we’re going to get, because “they’ll never de-nationalise trade”. In the first place, I’m not convinced that this is actually preferable to the state of affairs as it was before, but certainly if we’re going to apply that logic we should give up on practically our whole programme, because “they” are never going to de-nationalise schools, hospitals, drugs, and so on. “They” will only do that if “we” become powerful enough to make ’em, and that won’t come from surrendering all points of contentions wherever they appear to be winning.

  12. Ivan Grozny

    I have followed this, too, as Tom mentioned it to me in a gmail chat. I share his puzzling. He says that there is no ‘North American Union.’ And he’s right. There is not. So Praetonia’s response is to mention it again, as if it did exist! I do not understand that view. Why do people believe in these conspiracies, or even in institutions that do not exist? Waht is the explanation?

  13. Praetonia

    Sorry, I meant North American Free Trade Association. I also made a number of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, so clearly I am an idiot and probably also wear a tin foil hat (despite repeatedly repudiating the conspiracy theorists… errr, right…)

  14. Tom Palmer

    I do not believe that there is a “North American Free Trade Association.” NAFTA stands for “North American Free Trade Agreement.” It’s a treaty. There is a secretariat that “is responsible for the administration of the dispute settlement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” and you can find out all about it at .

    I have no idea what kind of hat Praetonia favors. However, Praetonia really should check the record, for he/she erred in writing “these negotiations rarely have resulted in much free trade in the past. I don’t think they are here, either.” That is simply false. The record following the establishment of the GATT after World War II has been one of reduction of trade barriers through the spread of trade agreements. Since the collapse of the Doha round, the multilateral approach certainly seems to have stalled and it is time to push very, very hard for unilateralism. For one thing, the multilateral approach typically relies on the erroneous premise that if the government of X lowers tariffs on its citizens, it is a favor to country Y, in exchange for which the government of Y should lower its tariffs on its citizens, as a favor to country X. That is a terrible mistake.

    Razeen Sally makes a powerful case for unilateral steps toward free trade in his recent book
    (available in full text at ; more information at ). I highly recommend it. It would help to dispel a lot of myths, as well as increase public understanding of international trade.

    In the meantime, we should worry about real problems, not imaginary ones such as “the Amero,” the “North American Union,” or the frightening messages from the “secret radio” that broadcasts from the other side of the moon that some people receive through the fillings in their teeth.

  15. Praetonia

    As I repeatedly inferred, I am British, not American, and so while I am really most dreadfully sorry for having mistaken the words “association” and “agreement,” I assure you it was an honest mistake. The difference is not substantive, though. NAFTA, like the EU (although far less advanced), is a customs union, not a mere free trade agreement, and with the NAAEC and NAALC (complete with EU-style Council of Ministers and Commission) has significant regulatory involvement as well.

    While it’s certainly true that there are no current public plans for an ‘NAU’ or an ‘Amero,’ and they are generally unlikely for so long as the US political climate remains as it is, the US is also far behind the EU and others anyway – more on par with the EEC in the 1950s or 60s, when there was no talk of a ‘Euro’ or even a ‘European Union’, and the Community had relatively few competences. An NAU and an Amero are definitely a possibility in the medium (-50 year) term, if public opinion can be won round.

    Your stance on unilateralism in pursuit of freedom is an admirable one, but I feel that it is somewhat at odds with a belief in the general goodness of these blocs.

  16. Tom G. Palmer

    I see no contradiction. I am not in favor of blocs per se, but I do favor negotiated reductions in trade barriers when that is possible and the best available option, just as I prefer reducing a tax when possible to not reducing it. My preference is as follows:

    1. Unilateral and complete free trade;
    2. Multilateral steps toward free trade (mainly, the WTO process);
    3. Preferential trade agreements that reduce trade barriers (NAFTA, EU, CAFTA, United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, etc.).

    I believe strongly that the emphasis should be on a major push for the first and I have been spending a good deal of time on exactly that effort. You may learn more about it fairly soon.

  17. MicroBalrog

    See, this is the root of the problem. The EU is a very nice example, because it’s really the most far-gone (they have even formed a joint EU police force now, though it is small). EU citizens now pay a 66% tariff on candles produced outside the European Union, the European Union mandates data retention, and so forth. So while YES, removing tariffs is awesome, I really doubt that the loss of individual liberty and self-determination is worth it.

    To be sure, NAFTA is fairly innocuous. And so is its child, the SPP. The question, as Praetonia pointed out, is the trend that these treaties engender. If I were an American, I would want my country to pull out of as many of these as possible. Praetonia has really explained my position very well, much better than I could.

    But I see that you agree with me when I say that the various nations of the world should take the route of unilateral free trade. This is awesome!

    P.S. I am happy to report that we in Israel have an online blog/study group dedicated solely to the publishing of a Hebrew translation of Democracy in America and the discussion of the ideas therein. Alexis de Tocqueville blogs from beyond the grave!

  18. MicroBalrog

    And now several world nations are seriously arguing for a global currency. I’d think that’s decades if not centuries away, but apparently not.

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