A Nation of Riches

America is a rich nation, despite its many problems and challenges, many, such as war adventurism, the product of hubris born of our success. Many elements contribute to our riches, but overwhelmingly toping the list are the people who have come here to live in freedom and with the opportunity to achieve their ambitions with hard work and a bit of luck.  “Eternal vigilantes” is the price we must pay to preserve the institutions and attitudes that help defend our way of life from those who want to run them for us.

We are rich in many ways. We are rich in our neighborliness toward our fellow man (we are the largest charity givers in the world), born in part by our gratitude for the respect for our persons and property shown to us by our neighbors. We are rich in the diversity with which we are able to live and conduct our lives, within the domain of mutual self-respect.

Our fellow citizens have come from all over the world. They are self-selected by their desire to be free and to work hard. And they bring with them those elements of their cultures that have enriched their lives in their home countries.

I shared in and enjoyed some of that richness last night at a concert by the Washington Balalaika Society featuring Olga Orlovskaya (soprano) at a local Presbyterian Church. The WBS (www.balalaika.org) is dedicated to performing traditional Russian music with Russian folk instruments (Balalaika, dombra, bayan). Olga Orlovskaya is a great granddaughter of Fyodor Chaliapin, the greatest Russian opera singer of the 20th century. Of the dozens and dozens of concerts and plays to choice from in the Washington area last night (or most any night) my Russian friend Andrei Makarov convinced me to attend this one and what a treat it was. America is indeed a rich country.

About wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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