NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The dollar is under pressure, with the Chinese yuan expected to break through 6 to the dollar this year, amid slides of other major currencies.
But there's a growing chorus of voices expecting a much bigger move, even an imminent economic collapse.
The Austrian school of economics holds that there are immutable laws of economics, laws that governments are powerless to overcome in the long term. They reject Keynesian efforts to counteract the business cycle with fiscal policy, and they also reject monetarist efforts to use the money supply against it.
Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek won the 1974 Nobel Prize in Economics for explaining this theory of money.
Austrians insist that any short-term gain from manipulating the markets leads to a long-term collapse, and a growing number are calling for a collapse this year. They see distortions in the availability of credit as the cause of recession, meaning recessions can be salutary, readjusting the supply of credit to what can be sustained by incomes.
In fact, most Austrian economists want the Federal Reserve abolished. Their views were represented in the last two presidential races by Ron Paul.
His son Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and other conservatives continue to demand an audit of the Federal Reserve.
Absent a dollar tied to silver or gold, the Austrians are predicting that the Fed's manipulation of the money supply will soon be "found out" and that the result will be hyperinflation and destruction of dollar-denominated assets, as early as this year.
Among the loudest of today's Austrians is David Stockman, who headed the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan. His book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, is a full-throated defense of Austrian theory.
There is, in fact, evidence that central bankers and global traders are diversifying away from the dollar.
The Peoples Bank of China said last year it will stop adding to foreign currency reserves and let the yuan appreciate.
Thomas Sargent, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics for his macroeconomic theories, and who currently teaches in Korea, even made headlines last week by predicting that the era of the dollar's use as the global trade currency could be coming to an end.
Figures from the Bank of International Settlements also indicate a growing portion of international debt is held in currencies other than the dollar, especially the euro.
The Austrians celebrated monetarism as "conservative" in the 1960s, when "Chicago School" leader Milton Friedman used it to argue for tightening the money supply. Now, with outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke having used the same theory against the "Great Recession," the policy is derided as "liberal."
Austrians believe that "the taper," the removal of Quantitative Easing (QE) due to start this year, will trigger the collapse.
Could they be right? Part of the problem lies in the apocalyptic way the Austrians' warnings are expressed, and the fact that they haven't come true, time after time after time. That doesn't mean they can't be right this time; it's just not the way most traders want to bet.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.