Former Belgian Central Banker on Why the Money System is a Taboo Topic Posted on December 9, 2012 by Yves Smith Lively and provocative. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Hat tip Richard Smith via creditplumber. 3690025 Post navigation ← The Grey Lady Voices Some Skepticism About IPO of Single Family Rental Player Silver Lake Links 12/9/12 → Subscribe to Post Comments 117 comments psychohistorian December 9, 2012 at 4:32 am It is encouraging to see someone from the inside tell it like it is. We could be fine if the money supply was sovereign but since it is private and that system has no “rebound capacity” or ability to adapt, it is taking the species over the cliff. I wonder if the global inherited rich have a contract out on Bernard yet? He is a brave man and should be honored as such. psychohistorian December 9, 2012 at 4:36 am NATIONALIZE THE FED!!!!!!! Laugh the global inherited rich out of control and stop their ongoing inheritance as the basis for their control. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 7:41 am He’s not just talking about nationalizing the Fed or Chartalist fiscal policies. Listen to the beginning again. @ 1:21 : I don’t agree with them [UMKC economists] for another reason…The systemic nature, because what they really do is change the driver. What they do is put ‘Jason’ instead of ‘Jack,’ the government instead of the private sector. The same system. Lietaer is actually offering a critique of the UMKC school of MMT, if you can let yourself hear it. His suggestion is for competing currencies within nations, not just for more intelligent use of sovereign national currencies. It is the monopoly of a single type of currency, bank credit-money specifically, which leads to instability. He gives the Swiss WIR as an example in the Q&A session and explains how its existence helped insulate Switzerland from the GFC. JEHR December 9, 2012 at 11:09 am ditherio, I like your pointing out the speaker’s critique of MMT (which I noticed too) but I need another example of what you mean by currency competitiveness as I’m not familiar with Swiss currency. Would another example be a credit union as a competitor to the chartered banks (in Canada)? I notice that the credit union works for its depositors and does not speculate in the investment business (I hope!). The interest rates on deposits are higher at the credit union now but barely above negative returns in interest, and the credit unions do not charge the egregious fees that the banks do. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 11:31 am Credit unions can’t print money. They can only lend peoples money…. if the people have no money, then it’s hard to do big things. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 11:34 am In Canada anyway, I’m pretty sure. William December 9, 2012 at 11:44 am Au contraire on credit unions not having high fees! I sat down recently with officers of the two largest Portland OR area CUs to open accounts, and each one tried to trick me into signing a consent form that said I agreed to other forms–which they were VERY reluctant to show me (acting miffed that I wanted to see them)! One officer even tried to get me to sign a little digital pad without even showing me the consent form itself, which was on his computer screen. The main form they didn’t want me to see? It was a LONG list of their fees. I told the officers what I thought of their tactics and left without opening an account. I saw no reason to move my money to them from US Bank. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm His examples seem to come mostly from the Swiss WIR, which is a non-convertible currency used by companies to carry out transactions among themselves (as I understand it). You have to be a member of the group to use it. His other example is from ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians used one currency for international trade (gold and silver) and another one for domestic use which was created as needed and carried a negative interest rate. I would think that time-currencies and other alternative currencies could fit the bill, especially if they were used on a wider basis (where I live, the local businesses have an exchange network that is essentially an alternative currency for the members). Others know more than I on this front, for sure. His argument seems to be that having a debt-free money system operating alongside the current bank-debt money system is a good idea so that economic transactions can continue when the bank-money system collapses. This seems like a cogent argument to me. Susan the other December 9, 2012 at 11:28 am That was my takeaway too. That Lietaer likes MMT Kansas City style, but it doesn’t go far enough. And because even MMT maintains the same “system” it too is rigid and will not achieve sustainability. Like he’s saying our money system is a tautology in inself and cannot survive. He contrasts it to Robert (Duranovic ? didn’t catch his name) at the U of Md who studies the stabilities created by long term ecosystems and their diverse biomass flow. These systems adapt because they are both specific and diverse. I’m wondering how closed his ideal system can be, how tautological. Because ecosystems are conservative energy circulation systems that perpetuate themselves as systems, etc. So here’s what I think he is saying: we need an ecosystem of money with many separate biomes. Each with its own currency, but a currency which is exchangeable at a restricted level. Like money printed in separate ink and earmarked for specific economic purposes, promoting and preserving diversity. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm Susan, I think you’re right about Lietaer’s observation on the need for the somewhat ecological development of the monetary system, broadly speaking. I need to listen to the rest of this to see if it is different from other presentations by Bernard L. I think you know that my support of the Soddy school of money science is based upon his connections between our physical environment and society’s well being. Soddy sees the money system as the wealth distribution system of the national economy – that money’s real function is distributive in nature. What I am not so sure about is anything having to do with competing currencies. In fact everything I have seen being offered in the way of alternative monetary relationsghips have been proposals that are complementary in nature. Only such a relationship can foster that positive feedback needed to sustain the organism – which is us. Competing currencies is a concept foreign to using the money system to promote the public good. Please give it a thought. Thanks. BT London December 9, 2012 at 5:56 am Lietaer is saying that unemployment can be cured by fiscal stimulus – just like Keynes, Koo, Krugman, Keen, Kelton, etc etc. He credits Chartalism, but none of those economists would call themselves pure Chartalists. Government borrowing creates both debt (the bond) and credit (deposits in the account of the recipient of government spending/tax rebate). This is the sovereign creation of money, just like private borrowing creates money. The cost of government borrowing is almost zero after inflation and GDP growth (ie tax receipt growth) is taken into consideration. The central bank can also force interest rates on bonds to be low in a time of need for government investment. Allowing most credit to be created by private borrowing is great for fostering innovation and investment. If the government controlled all credit creation that would be communism. There is nothing wrong with the money system. Governments just need to learn how to use it properly. They have done this correctly in war time (WWI, WWII etc) but only used a very watered-down version in our current crisis – hence the stagnation. Calgacus December 9, 2012 at 6:43 am The Kansas City MMTers like Kelton & Wray used to call themselves NeoChartalists, so I don’t think they would mind. Government borrowing creates both debt (the bond) and credit (deposits in the account of the recipient of government spending/tax rebate). No, the bond and the deposit are equally both credit & debt. The bond is a credit to the holder, a debt of the government. The same for the deposit (with a private bank as an intermediary). Bonds, dollar bills, bank reserves – they’re all the same thing, all just slightly different kinds of money. This shows that the bond issuance is completely superfluous. Currency is just a matured bond. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm A perfect example of why discussing the money system is taboo – there is no Chart 1 for the definitions, meanings and terms. The takeaway is supposed to be that money (currency) and debt (bonds) are the same thing. So, nothing to see here – just keep moving thanks for your time. Enjoy some of that debt whenever you can’t get money. It’s like water and ice: one liquid, one solid. While that’s true, there’s no cost for water becoming ice. But there is for money to be created from debt. It’s called interest. Do people really understand the effects of compounding interest as a cost to our economy and to our society? Can anyone here say wealth-concentration? All money can be issued without issuing any debt. There would be no cost to society from having a system of money in operation. Imagine. The government issues bonds because it is prevented from issuing money – rather, this becomes a lucrative, profitable endeavor ( what MMT calls a self-imposed constraint on government). The only need for issuing debt is a private need. Banks should do all lending needed to capitalize private economic expansion. But that capital should come from people wanting to risk their savings for a gain, and not from new publicly-guaranteed, privately-created purchasing power. Money is money. Debt is debt. For the Money System Common. Calgacus December 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm Joe – that is what the MMTers do obsessively – and I am even more obsessed by it. A mark of a developed discipline is that all the work is in discovering, understanding and framing the correct definitions. Do that, the easy stuff that is oh-so-often skipped over – and everything is child’s play. I will try to reply to you more on my blog that I rarely frequent myself :0), as you have asked. We can continue this and other previous conversations there. Money is indeed not debt if you redefine the word “debt” – against the general dictionary, the basic definition. Redefine it by the definition sometimes seen in special purpose economics dictionaries (The special purpose is to create a negative amount of knowledge of economics). You have used “liability” for the general meaning, and said “money is liability” yourself. I’ve pointed out that that is how you personally should read Mitchell-Innes. Do that, do the accounting correctly, realize that banks cannot create reserves, government money all by their lonesome, that they do not create our base money, and then you will understand MMT. Bonds and currency are “one and the same thing”, to quote FDR. A zero-coupon bond is precisely a dollar bill with a date in the future printed on it. An ordinary T-bond is just a bankroll of these ZCBs, with the biggest bill, with the date furthest in the future, labelled “the principal” – along with some baby bills with earlier dates, called “the interest”. Thinking there is a mystical, magical, evil or good difference between currency & bonds is precisely thinking that the perfect counterfeit 2013 dollar bills I just printed up are mystically eviller or gooder than my 2012 productions. skippy December 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm Throughout its 5000 year history, debt has always involved institutions – whether ….. out through social networks defined and regulated by religious authorities. Skippy… the ultimate axiom – debt – is – A – religious opinion, it is the corner stone to century’s of violent befuddlement. Doing Gawds work – Bankensfiend… FFS H. Alexander Ivey December 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm Ah contrare mon ami, there is a cost to changing water to ice. It’s called phase energy, there is a small amount of energy required to change the structure, and adding or removing this energy does not change the temperature. So there is an analogy here. But let the record show I do not think using the hard sciences as a model for economics is a good idea. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm hmmm. I have to figure out this ‘reply’ format. Calg. – I am again glad to take this up on your blog. One quickie – the only reason you think either of us NEED to redefine debt is because you start out with a definition of debt. The definition of debt we have discussed at length. We do not disagree on the definition of debt. And we are discussing the legal aspects of money. We start out with an understanding of a national monetary system. Our science is one of money, not of accounting. SO, first we need a definition of money. From that you can see that debt is a use of money. And to H. Alexander Ivey, mon ami . Thanks. I deserve that. Both because I knew that was not accurate – scientifically – when I wrote it, and because I am an awful painful critic of ‘stylized’ writing. My apologies to all. The scientist most noted for his study of both physics and money was Nobelist Frederick Soddy (Chemistry). His Cartesian Economics lecture “The Bearing of Physical Science Upon State Stewardship” is part of the origin of the concepts of social science and Ecological Economics. A read of this lecture (free online) and his book titled The Role of Money brings all of this discussion to a more holistic and sustainable understanding. I hope you will agree. For the Money System Common Lambert Strether December 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm “[T]here’s no cost for water becoming ice.” You don’t live in Maine, I see. Calgacus December 10, 2012 at 4:37 am H. Alexander Ivey:But let the record show I do not think using the hard sciences as a model for economics is a good idea. Yup. Quite right. The deep, trivial, enlightening historical and conceptual influence is that of economics, accounting as a model for the hard sciences, not vice versa. The recenter work of Mary Poovey and the old work, what beautiful phrases – of Salomon Bochner, which I’ve admired for a long time – leaps to mind. And Bochner came to his views in the only truly scientific way, by kicking and screaming, begrudgingly admitting defeat against his will. Probably Mirowski too. It’s a case of what I like to think of as Wray’s Law: The mainstream gets everything backwards. Wray said this on some blog in response to some wisely naive commenter. I always knew it at some level, Hegel had said it earlier of course, but it is the kind of thing it is infinitely important to often say out loud outright. Absolutely true of the twentieth century – and we are still in, at the end of the long 20th – about anything remotely philosophical. rob December 9, 2012 at 8:36 am I seemed to me what he clarified in the Q&A 1,2…..Is Banks have the monopoly power to create money through debt, which is sanctified by the gov’ts by requiring that money be used to pay taxes.The private banking /monetary system is enshrined by the gov’ts.He also mentioned the historical reality of the 19th century conspiracy to create the central banking systems,specifically saying the evidence for the federal reserve system was very nicely laid out. those are two points I’m not trying to mix. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:12 am In a monetary system where private banks create money through debt, there will be an increase in bank ownership of wealth and concentration of wealth over time especially when debt goes parabolic. When the size of debt relative to GDP balloons our system goes through a shock. That’s where we are now. We must now knock down the banking cartel and redistribute wealth. If we don’t do this we are all becoming banana republics. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm Didn’t you get the ‘taboo’ memo? MMTers for the most part love debt – because that’s what money is made from (wink), and deny debt-money’s wealth-concentrating, income stratifying nature. Why, one person’s assets is another person’s liabilities. It all balances. How bad could that be? I wish some of them would consider Lerner’s little parable on the alibi of helplessness. And start to get behind a system where the government’s monopoly-issuing power were exercized BY the government. For the Money Sytem Common. skippy December 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm “Didn’t you get the ‘taboo’ memo?” – joebhed I did, and taboos are grounded in what dogma? Skippy… to kill debt… is to kill a core belief… no matter how absurd, no matter the massive amount of evidence to the contrary… an anchor around our species necks… in a self fulfilling prophecy. BARFFFFFFF………. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Moneta December 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm LOL! I don’t know if: 1. It’s taboo 2. The elephant in the room 3. Generally unrecognized. LeonovaBalletRusse December 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm Moneta, AND monopoly on HFT looting by computers with “closest proximity to the source” leads to an Economic Dead End. digi_owl December 9, 2012 at 5:54 am Have there been a video posted on this blog with the guy before? He seems familiar but i can’t place where or when. WorldisMorphing December 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm I once submitted a link to this video in the comment section. …perhaps twice. I’ve even added the video to my YouTube Channel Favorites as I did with his TEDx Talk. TEDxBerlin – Bernard Lietaer – 11/30/09 18:46 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORI8r3JIyw digi_owl December 10, 2012 at 12:26 am Seems i had his website in my bookmarks, so i must have bumped into his ideas way back when. Maju December 9, 2012 at 6:00 am The key moment is at 5’20”, when he explains that the IMF, World Bank, etc., in brief the Bretton Woods system or Washington Consensus, is meant to work as it is. What we may imagine in our naiveté as bugs are in fact features of the system, a system with no room for change within it, a system that can only be dumped if we want Humankind to survive. BT London December 9, 2012 at 6:05 am Why on earth do you think ‘the system’ is going to kill ‘Humandkind’? This is ludicrous hyperbole. skippy December 9, 2012 at 7:20 am Why on earth do you think ‘the system’ is going to kill ‘Humandkind’? This is ludicrous hyperbole.- BT London Toxication, AGW, massive extinction event, reduction of carrying capacity, increasing inequity (the promise was more equality)… all these indicators are ignored for the sake of saving a dying system, developed ad hoc, with axioms, that were not supported with much in the way of hard data, just the mouth organs – payed – to validate it, by those, that benefited the most. Who dies and who lives, is the most obvious metric to measure that question? How can it be any more – simple – than that? Skippy… “ludicrous hyperbole” indeed! readerOfTeaLeaves December 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm Might be more helpful for you to review the section after 8:00, where he talks about the *structure* of networks. He’s drawing from work done in biology and ecosystem dynamics. He’s saying, whether you are talking about electrons in a system, or about a natural ecosystem (like a herd on a range) or money in a system, all these are complex systems. And complex systems are all subject to the same kinds of dynamics, and we can quantify those dynamics. And when we quantify those ecosystem dynamics, we find there is a (very dangerous) tradeoff between diversity versus stability - ‘diversity’ is not necessarily ‘efficient'; however, it is redundant. Because it is redundant, it contains within itself a powerful rebound capacity. In contrast, a lack of diversity might be termed ‘monoculture’, and it narrows the range and stability of the system, making the entire system more rigid, fragile, and consequently more vulnerable to extinction. Lack of diversity is ‘efficient’ but only over the short term. (Yup, this has implications for the so-called ‘Efficient Market Hypothesis’, which through the lens of ecosystem dynamics is exposed as an intellectual fetish of the sort to which people like Glenn Hubbard are particularly susceptible. But I digress…) I think Leiter (?sp?) is saying, “We have to look at this **as a system.** Note that what we now have might be called “monoculture money…” (think acres of one type of corn that gets wiped out if the temperatures drop, or think of the Irish Potato Famine, where monoculture generated one species of potatoe that was wiped out by blight). As you move toward ‘greater efficiencies’ (i.e., ‘financial or economic monoculture’) over the short term this may appear to pay off, but what we now know from system dynamics is that this leads to bigger problems, primarily the viability of the system narrows precipitously to an increasingly small range in which it can be sustained. It becomes increasingly unstable as those so-called ‘efficiencies’ are implemented. In the tradeoff between ‘efficiencies’ and the kind of diversity that inherently contains rebound capacity, we lose our ability to rebound and that means that we are at increasing risk for implosion and system collapse. The ‘efficiencies’ lead to increasing instabilities. But those who benefit from the ‘efficiencies’ (by capturing the externalized profits) become a powerful political and institutional force for maintaining an increasingly unstable status quo. They have to blind themselves to the ways in which they endanger the very system they think benefits them — (see also: Glenn Hubbard). They become cheerleaders, in a sense, for their own destruction because they can’t afford to see the dangers that these so-called ‘efficiencies’ create for the system as a whole. Long comment, but helpful I hope. He’s really applying system dynamics to economics, and there are also some good thinking of this type over at INET (search on ‘ecosystem’). Here’s a starting link in case you are interested: http://ineteconomics.org/search/node/Fullerton shtove December 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm Yes, that was the most interesting part. I read the 2010 paper, which is co-written with some scientists. They talk about entropy, but in a different way from the physicists who’ve been commenting on the monetary mess. What puzzles me about commentary like this is the assertion that the rules of complex systems apply to the money system and economic behaviour. How do they know? How do they account for politics, for personality? This isn’t really a scientific paper – it’s long on metaphor, short on data. But interesting. Maju December 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm Mostly because the ecology of planet Earth is collapsing (global warming, nuclear catastrophes, depleted oceans, deforestation madness, widespread growing pollution, Monsanto-made destruction of soils, overpopulation). It may still be soon enough to contain such collapse but we I’m already despairing admittedly. No hyperbole here at all: either we destroy the (Capitalist) system or it will destroy us (and most other species). Earth will stay and maybe life will flourish again in due time but without us humans. We have most unusual capacities for an animal species but we are clearly not at the level of collective responsibility that such capacity demands. A few may be but most aren’t and certainly the powerful are against Earth in almost every single case. But without Earth’s life support we are nothing and there’s no colony in Mars to run away to in the foreseeable future, mind you. Today’s alternative is Ecosocialism or extinction. docG December 9, 2012 at 7:13 am This guy is a terrible communicator. He can’t seem to get to the point, so it all sounds like some sort of conspiracy theory paranoia. I have a feeling I might agree with him if I had the patience to sit and listen to his entire spiel. I don’t. jim December 9, 2012 at 7:17 am Oh yes, The a dirty word “conspiracy”. The crooks create a dirty word for every crime they want to commit, and they have committed a heck of a lot of conspiracies. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 7:20 am Wow, that’s some short attention span you got there…might wanna work on that ;) rob December 9, 2012 at 8:54 am I would point out the “conspiracy” , which is quite clear and concise on Q&A 1,2 @3.00….He very clearly states that the central banking system was devised as a conspiracy, in the 19th century. as a means of efficiency…the federal reserve was one of these creations.this is the money system we now have.It sounded unequivocal to me.He even specifically mentioned that the case for the formation of the federal reserve,was “nicely laid out”.Which is just to say, the thing is ,these banks have the monopoly power to create our money.which is why the gov’t use tax dollars to bail them out, because the gov’t know that when these private banks are in trouble and should fail, the system set up as it is(as a result of this “conspiracy”),will not work, because the gov’t is “bound”to rely on these private institutions to create money, and the depression showed that when banks failed, the whole system was in jeopardy.the gov’t in turn ratifies this money by requiring it to be used for paying taxes….. so the banks have this in-built scheme to be gaurenteed an increase in the money they create as a debt, so long as a gov’t in in existance, or until the people devise another money creation paradigm, like was put forth in dennis kucinich’s “need act” HR2990 last congress. docG December 9, 2012 at 9:49 am “until the people devise another money creation paradigm” Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let “the people” fix it. These complex systems obviously developed in complex ways, and sure the moneyed elite had lots of input and “we the people” had none. That said, waddya gonna do about it, Mr. Big Shot? And why should we trust YOU to fix it? Let the whole thing tumble down into the ground. It’s ripe. Let it fall. THEN we can have a nice discussion of what we’d like to see happen next. ohmyheck December 9, 2012 at 11:20 am What, exactly, is wrong with discussing what the system that is now in place, should be replaced with? Do you advocate everyone running around with their heads exploding, or having a few calm heads prevailing, to rationally explain and put into place a system better suited for ALL of us? In my opinion, this discussion should be had before the fall. NC is just one place to have it. rob December 9, 2012 at 11:40 am I agree, the thing is ripe, and with damn near everybody complacent as to the stink; how can it not fall? But the reality of the past is… it probably won’t fall.it will limp along sucking the lifeblood out of everyone, before the flames give a trial by fire,sometime in the future…maybe generations from now…I am not optimistic. And I certainly don’t take lesseons from the “better educated elitists”.but the history of money is old. and pretty f”””ing interesting.We are not the first people trampled by money…just the current people being trampled by money… and as such, we need to read our own history. And right now, there is a plan on the table.it is not MMT, though it does recognise a different pardigm for our money system.one that only affects the bankers who get a free lunch by having the monopoly to creating our money, out of nothing, and charging intrest to us for the debt they create in the process, while at the same time have rights granted by the federal reserve act to be promised payment through taxation of the people, no matter what.like now.This new plan is not really that new… but the current bill , which can be read by everyone. is called “the NEED ACT” HR 2990, last congress ,sponsored by dennis kucinich.this is an attempt to take away the money creation privelidge the bankers enjoy, and give it back to the people(treasury only), as the framers intended. and enumerated in the constitution.Jefferson said, bankers pose more of a threat to this country than standing armies….and he was right. the problem we have now, is the same problem we had during the depression. and the first time a plan like the need act was proposed was in the thirties, to address the federal reserve created financial disaster…… more people need to read the “need act”… then people can discuss it, in forum like this and all over the web and in coffee shops and diners… and tell the shills who pose as representatives in congress,to do it. It can be like the reformation…. when people actually started reading for themselves what the priesthood had been relating to them for so long,they realized they were being lied to….which then led to a protestant clergy that was just as corrupt as the catholic one…..and on and on..,. we the people must be aware of history, and think, and act and not go down the roads so well worn… jim December 9, 2012 at 7:14 am I wonder how much of the budget deficit in the United States is due to paying interest on the debt to the fed? Seems like interst on debt paid to the fed should be on the table for the debt comission since they are talking about cutting everything else. Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm IIRC, it was $80B last year and every year the fed does give it back to the treasury – gratis. Until they have to fight inflation by raising interest paid on bank reserves. Then they give it to banks. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm Actually, ‘gratis’ doesn’t quite measure up. As it means without charge. The charge is whatever is paid as income to the Fed by the Treasury. The payback is never what is paid in. So, rather the real difference is what the Fed gets to keep – gratis from the taxpayers. And, just like you said, it is not repayment of interest, it is payment of net income. Should the Fed’s Bill for paying the interest on reserves to manage interest rates need to increase for any reason, the net income of the Fed would be reduced, payment to the Treasury would be reduced, payments of taxes would rise. IOW,folks, it is yet again we the people that are paying the interest on those reserves created by the Fed. And, whose central bank is that again? For the Money Sytem Common. LeonovaBalletRusse December 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm Do US taxes go into Fed coffers, or into The City/BOE coffers? Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm Right, they give the Treasury whatever is left after Fed operating expenses – the fancy building, The Bernank’s salary, salary for a couple hundred economists doing who knows what, all those accountants moving money around accounts per their MMT instruction booklets, regulators of TBTF banks, the cute girl at the Discount Window…all that stuff. And Ben instituted the new tool of paying interest on bank reserves to influence short rates. Copied that from Europe I hear. So he has a $80B annual budget at best to pay out on bank reserves, and IIRC I once calc’d out that means he might be able to as high as 3% interest on reserves, then he has to go back to the old way of using the FOMC to sell bonds – short term if they got any left, or long term and the Fed will be losing money on those – and we’ll see if they will let the Fed just monetize those losses, or if the taxpayer will be required to make the Fed balance sheet whole again. Hugh December 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm Interest on Treasuries in 2012 was $442 billion. However, the government credits interest it “pays” to itself in programs like Social Security. This reduces total interest to $224 billion. I believe this is the figure that is usually reported. http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/BudgetProjectionsMarch2012.xls Click on the Federal Interest Outlays tab. Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm The number I was remembering must be from a couple years ago then. But they did a lot of QE since and on longer term – higher interest stuff, so that would explain the much bigger net number. Until they have a cap loss from selling before maturity one of these years. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 7:19 am His whole talk is good, if you click through to the other segments. Watch the disdainful reactions from the other ‘experts’ during the Q&A, unable to believe that this man might actually know relevant things that they don’t. While we may all realize that the man is talking sense, he’s definitely facing an uphill battle getting his point across to this crowd. Also, I would just like to state for the record that I tried to point out the possible trade-off between efficiency and stability (I called it sustainability) in economic systems during my introductory micro course, as an undergrad. Didn’t get real far. I only say this because I think an interesting side-effect of education in economics is a complete blindness to many obvious facts of life, which are readily apparent to even the dullest of the un-indoctrinated. Most fifth-graders could understand his point that an exclusive focus on efficiency in systems leads to systemic instability. His tree metaphor captures it perfectly, yet over-‘educated’ academic economists and supposedly sophisticated journos seem unable to grasp it. So you’re saying that driving at top speed all the time might be bad for my car? I don’t get it…I mean, look how far we’ve gone just while you were explaining that to me. Stephanie December 9, 2012 at 7:30 am It was when he started talking about feminine principles (in the second vid) that I figured he’d be dismissed by his audience. I have a problem with that kind of essentialism, but it doesn’t negate the value I found in the rest of the videos. Really interesting. Re your point on ‘sustainability’…I think a better term might be ‘resilience’ or ability to recover. That concept works better, I think, when talking about how diversity is a critical aspect to the success of systems. Stephanie December 9, 2012 at 7:34 am PS….the video linked above is actually the third one in the series. Stephanie December 9, 2012 at 7:35 am Here’s the first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=OfMbYllbN6c&feature=endscreen Stephanie December 9, 2012 at 8:13 am and the start of the Q&A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSafwZ8QhyY readerOfTeaLeaves December 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm Thanks! Also, completely agree with diptherio that the narrowness of economics academic training (and, I’d toss in ‘business school curricula as a general rule’) is too narrow. In my contacts with engineers and engineering, as well as education, I’ve generally found those who read sic-fi, or play music, or read more widely tend to be more creative, productive problem solvers. The narrowness of academic economic curricula appears to be a problem. Except at UMKC, and apparently PERI and a few other spots that favor diversity. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:22 am Most economic theories are about dealing with the shock of their generation. The market hiccups and the next generation has a fixation on tinkering with only 1 or 2 variables, usually the ones that were totally distorted by the previous generation. Our leaders suffer from linear thinking. That’s what happens when we mostly value the left brain I guess. LOL! diptherio December 9, 2012 at 9:34 am True, there are a whole lot of things that need changing, apart from the monetary system. Leitaer actually acknowledges this specifically. Attack on multiple fronts is called for and monetary theory and design is one of those fronts, replacing capitalist businesses with co-operative ones is another. Reducing personal consumption and practicing what we preach to our children w/ regards to sharing is another. Trying to see through the BS social stratifications that blind us to the humanity of others whose social sphere is not as elevated as our own is another. We’ve got plenty of things to work on all up in this joint, Bernie here is just hipping us to one of them; and in his defense, he isn’t claiming that monetary design and policy is a panacea. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:47 am A few weeks ago, I was listening to Radio-Canada on which they were interviewing a proponent of cooperatives. It made a lot of sense to me… I’ve had the opportunity to test 3 types of daycares: public, coop and private. The best one was the public one but it was overfunded and I knew it would not be sustainable. The next best was the coop. Because there were no profits, there was more money for the kids and more for the educators. The private one was the worst for obvious reasons…. why should 1 person reap all the profits using other people’s money (bank loan). I think cooperatives would make a lot of sense at this point in our history. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 10:18 am Capitalist business structure creates perverse, anti-social incentives for all involved. The owners or managers try to get as much work from their employees as they can for as little compensation as possible. The employees, conversely, try to do as little work as possible for the greatest amount of compensation. If the management is separate from the ownership, the managers have an incentive to both squeeze the workers and stiff the owners. All this just by everyone following their rational self interest and obeying the dynamics of the underlying system. How’s that for invisible hand? The fact that managers don’t reduce wages even farther and that employees don’t slack-off any more than they do is evidence that we are not entirely self-centered, greedy individuals. Not entirely. Contrast this with a co-op, where the employees are the owners and the managers; where business decisions are made through democratic process rather than managerial fiat; where providing good, stable employment is the goal of the owners (being themselves employees), rather than maximizing the amount of unearned income that can be extracted from the enterprise. We claim to be a democratic society (hahahahahahaha!!!) but we spend a third of our lives in tiny (or massive) dictatorships with no vote, no voice, no freedom of speech or association or movement or dissent. Then every four years they let us vote on our new overlord-puppet President and then they tell us “YOU ARE FREE! YOU LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY! THIS IS THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS! REJOICE!” Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm No, he’s just another fruit flavor in the cornucopia of nut cases we have in the econ world. LeonovaBalletRusse December 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm diptherio: “seem unable to grasp it” – because their compensation depends upon their failure to grasp it? casino implosion December 9, 2012 at 7:48 am He seems to be getting near the point, but not all the way to it. Why does the banking system need a “lobby for the status quo”? Shouldn’t it take care of itself? Why is “touching the money system” academic death for an economist? The underlying reason for all this is that MMT makes clear the political nature of the money system. The banking elites know how the system works, but the last thing they want the general populous to discover is that the whole thing is completely controlled by men, for better or for worse. Men with all their potential for corruption, or, conversely all their potential for progressive change. The average person’s very fuzzy concept of the money system is that it is governed by some vague natural inflexible law of scarcity. As far as I know, none of the people writing popularizations of MMT have dealt with this head on at length for the layman. It only gets a passing mention. casino implosion December 9, 2012 at 7:51 am It seems to me that the most pressing objections to MMT all take the same form: “What would the result be if the masses all clearly understood the real nature of the money system?” rob December 9, 2012 at 9:19 am I notice the same thing, he mentioned “changing the driver” , from the banking system to the gov’t/……well, that sounds right to me. in the nothing that was said, it implies, we keep paying the debts to these private banks for creating our money,which even if the gov’t appointed panel at the treasury can do no better, at least we wouldn’t owe them intrest on the money created for us to use… which at the current time is what? $1 out of every $5 paid in taxes…so you figure our tax bill would either go 20% further, for our causes/infrastructure/single payer heathcare,etc(imagine the possibilities(a real stimulus plan, take the debt owed to banks, pay for a universal healthcare system,which would mean any family won’t have to pay out of their pockets,on top of the current tax, or employers won’t have to pay on top of current taxes,and the un-insured will have security they don’t at the moment),or our taxes would be lowered by 20%..or the gov’t wouldn’t have to sell so many treauries to pay this debt. and that is just the first level of reality. after that who knows what every household would save if that money given to the banking systems wasn’t used by speculators on wall st to raise the price of every good/resource we use… and then there is the lack of bank lobbying money that politicians wouldn’t get, and that would help them realize the people are their masters…. If nothing but the re-allocation of bank debt intrest the US taxpayer pays, on our money, that only has value because we as americans are considered a good bet,not the banks..,this would turn around our economy. WE are the value of our money… the banks are our liability, that lowers the value of our reputation JEHR December 9, 2012 at 11:18 am Please, sir rob, could you not write in run-on sentences. I want to read what you are saying but you just go on and on and on, not bothering to punctuate and not bothering to make a subject and verb for each sentence. Please! rob December 9, 2012 at 11:53 am Sorry, I get that alot. It is a stream of thought just flowing to the keyboard…I will try to be clearer. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm “”It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”” Henry Ford – longtime advocate of governmental debt-free issuance, just like Lincoln did with the Greenbacks. For the Money System Common. readerOfTeaLeaves December 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm MMT makes clear the political nature of the money system. Precisely. But worse than that, the political nature creates externalities that iterate, creating increasingly poor environmental outcomes. Lambert Strether December 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm “externalities that iterate” In the vulgate, self-licking ice cream cones. readerOfTeaLeaves December 10, 2012 at 12:42 am Well now, there’s some imagery … ;-) Norman December 9, 2012 at 9:16 am Being one who was born in the first half of the last century, I certainly have had the experience to watch the way the money cycle has gone. Considering that Europe got to where it is today by being almost destroyed in WWII, then rebuilt to the degree we now see, seems that’s the only way out of this mess we face. It seems a shame that the lessons haven’t been learned, that we needn’t destroy, but replace with better infrastructure, not the hodgepoge we are experiencing today. Perhaps the present mindset of the oligarchy needs to be destroyed before the replacement can be achieved? The question is: how? Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:29 am Bankers have proven they can not allocate capital without speculating. We must take that power away from them ASAP. #1. We must nationalize banks and break up their activities. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 9:36 am Instead of nationalize, how about state-ify? I trust my state legislature more than the national congress (not that that’s saying much…). Carla December 9, 2012 at 9:50 am Wow. I’ll bet you don’t live in Ohio. Check out the work the Public Banking Institute is doing to try to create public banks at the municipal and county levels. diptherio December 9, 2012 at 10:23 am I’m the Montana State Rep for PBI :) Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:55 am Maybe it should be coops with some rights to print. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 9:57 am Remember I’m in Canada where we only have 6 big banks. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm Sorry, but you’re aiming tht “nationalization” barrel a little too low. There is no NEED to nationalize the banks. We NEED to nationalize the money system. Because it’s ours. The banks belong to the bankers – to do banking and not money-creation. It’s a fair deal. We create the money without debt – and the banks lend it to those who need to accumulate it for commerce. Paying back debt has ZERO effect on money. For the Money System Common. psychohistorian December 9, 2012 at 10:42 am Come on folks, broaden the discussion to ongoing inheritance that keep the people who own the money supply in control, please and thank you. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 10:53 am That might be their goal but I MUST believe that we will knock them out. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 11:16 am The system has already gutted 2/3 of the population. It is now move up to the top 1/3. Right now the top 1/3 is not fighting back because it still thinks it stands a chance. The other reality is that most of those in the top 1/3 are over 55+ and are probably betting on dying before getting squeezed. The problem with that line of thinking is that we have hit the hockey stick effect, which means that everything is accelerating and IMO, the top 1/3 will get hit before they pass away. My forecast is that we will start to see a revolution only when the top 15-20% feels the crunch. However, one problem with this scenario is that they will be old and might not have the will to fight. So my forecast will probably depend on the will and the anger of the young. As the system gets bigger, it might become more efficent but it is also becoming less robust. This leads me to believe that there is hope. rob December 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm these aren’t just bankers we are fighting, we are fighting the free traders too…canada is being led by the same corporate henchmen as the US…as far as their “community of intrest” is concerned.. and really, as pschohistorian points out, these corporations are run by families, and the money they have in aggregate. In US history, the “first bank of the US” and the”second bank of the US” with their twenty year charters ,respectively;were a handful of british bankers.with names.banking families, who are still banking families.and who have agents who own our federal reserve, in part, and I suspect they own the canadian central bank too… they did. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm Notice how I did not put the words banking or bankers anywhere in that post! What’s worse is that Canadians are still caught up in their real estate bubble which makes them think they are doing OK. Most still have no clue how concentration of wealth is now close to the US level. Carla December 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm The banks also own major chunks of every industrial enterprise, too. Check it out. joebhed December 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm That’s a noble gesture, but a fail as it respnds to the effects of the wealth-concentration problem, rather than the cause. The cause is the debt-based money system. Even as the Chartalists explain the flows of bank-credit (money), it goes in one direction to the most “credit-worthy’ borrower. So all money is created as a debt and distributed to those who can most afford it. And they borrow it from these aristocracy-privileged purveyors of national purchasing power, ever increasing their share of the national wealth. They gain from its issueance, while the borrower gains from its use. In the meantime, the amount of wealth creation that goes to the workers has been reduced for a couple of generations. This system makes them less and less what you would call “credit-worthy’. This means they must pay more to borrow the purchasing power NEEDed. Sorry, the NEED is to take back the money system for all the worthy users. Plain and simple. Sure, taxation will be rationalized. But you’ll never do it permanently without control of the money power. For the Money System Common. JEHR December 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm This video inspired me to write to my government and members of parliament: Gentlemen I have been wondering about the cause of the world financial crisis. At first, I believed, as you stated, that Canada had weathered the storm but now I find, as you admitted, that the Canadian banks were bailed out to the tune of $114 billion (more per capita than the TARP). I also read that the Canadian banks were obliged to use the Federal Reserve Discount Window to borrow billions of more dollars right after the financial meltdown in 2008. Here are my questions and I will be most happy to share the answers that you give me: 1. As economists, would you give the Canadian people an explanation of how our Canadian monopoly monetary system really works and how the banks got into trouble? 2. Canada has a sovereign currency and thus can afford to pay for whatever goods and services are available in that currency. So why are we now undergoing an austerity program? Are we being punished for a crisis that the banks caused? 3. Private banks make money through issuing debt. Why have the banks been given this monopoly to create such debt when the government is capable of issuing interest-free debt, if it chooses to do so (and as it did prior to 1970)? 4. The debt crisis of 2008 was brought to us by the banks partly from their speculating and giving loans to people who should not have been given loans. How can we be sure there won’t be another crisis because nothing has changed and the banks can still issue debt (i.e., money) beyond what the government issues? We were regulated but still had to bail out banks. 5. The monopoly that the banks have to create debt (i.e., currency) helped cause the banking crisis. Is it a good thing for our banks to have a monopoly on creating money through debt? If you look at the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRSaserOZLw you will see a discussion on the topic above. One of the solutions on the video is to have competitive currencies in one country like the Swiss have. The Swiss have the WIR which helped insulate the Swiss against the banking crisis. I understand that it is an alternative currency used by some businesses so that when the next banking crisis occurs, they will have a place from which to obtain money for goods and services, etc., from an institution that works without speculating. If anyone has ideas about the above questions, I would be more than happy to receive them. I’m sure all the Canadian people would be too. Anyone, feel free to comment. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm It’s a good start but I’m afraid no one will listen here in Canada until they lose the equity in their homes. Moneta December 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm and/or their guaranteed pensions. Carla December 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm Great letter, JEHR. Hope you will share any responses you may receive. Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm I’ll just make a few points, since I’m far to lazy to create new money systems – especially for free. 1) When speaking in the real world – LOSE THE MMT SPEAK In this case…everywhere where you said “banks issue debt” should be replaced with “banks make loans”. When normal people say “banks issue debt”, they normally mean the bank is raising capital for itself by creating and selling its own corporate bonds to the bond market. Back to that in a moment. 2) Canada has zero reserve banking, so there is no liquidity buffer at banks and the Canadian central bank would have to step in in a hurry to supply liquidity. Since they have subs in the US, I’m sure the subs were banging on the Fed’s door too. 3) When there is a financial crisis, banks stop doing everything. This is called a credit crunch. Most businesses are accustomed to having a revolving line of credit for short term cash flow needs. Banks cut this off with no warning so of course biz could be forced into bankruptcy, especially when a biz slowdown happens at the same time and they are usually getting slow paid by customers in the same circumstances. Biz does not like this, so I guess the Swiss have a solution. I also heard that Siemens deposited 5B Euro at the German central bank so they could get at their own money when they needed to. But that’s not a “currency” thing. It’s a banking thing. 4) As far as what the Canadian taxpayer may be on the hook for, my guess is most of this “bailout” is short term loans and should get paid back in a matter of months. But I haven’t checked into it, and you may want to. 5)If banks are short capital…..from point 1 above…tell Canada to tell the banks that they should issue debt (sell corporate bonds) to re capitalize themselves. Tell them the taxpayer is broke. 6) If you have a housing bust – more trouble is on the way. But Canada always said they can have zero reserve banking because their regulation is so good. Prudent loans and such. So what’s to worry? JCC December 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm I think he summarized the problem in Part 4 rather well: “We live in a system of Bank-Debt-Money. We’ve seen that (the central banks) interconnection actually makes them more vulnerable, but they’re not connected with the Real World; the connection with the bulk of humanity is not there…. we pay our farmers in Europe not to produce and we have Africans starving and we don’t find a mechanism to link the two because there is no Market. They don’t have money, right? That’s not interconnection here. The Market is defined as people with need and money; no money, no market.” Just lots and lots of very unhappy people around the world who are in the process of “losing grip”. I think he does an interesting job of explaining the present, and untouchable, money and the system defining it. Tweaking the present system just adds more complexity, an unsustainable solution. We need to re-engineer money itself. All 5 parts are well worth watching. It’s too bad the 5-part video has been on youtube for 3 years now with less then approx. 2000 views each. Lambert Strether December 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm I love the smell of burning bridges in the morning. readerOfTeaLeaves December 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm Whoa. Someone who thinks about economics in kind of the same way that I do… (!) Where is the original, full video, please (!!?). Link…? spooz December 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm As for taboo, still no discussion of IMF’s TCP Revisited here. Some interesting talk about it over at Mike Norman Economics, even Dan Kervick didn’t dismiss it outright, like so many others have: http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2012/12/jkh-banking-in-abstract-chicago-plan.html Paul Tioxon December 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm The confusing of bio-logical paradigms, an eco-system millions of years old, and a historic process, the money system, does not serve the overall discussion that well. For example, saying MMT just replaces Joey with Jimmy, does not much more, than give us the wisdom of Pete Townsend, meet the new boss, same as he old boss. With the market and money, it is: Cui Bono, to whose benefit or even more precisely, do we place the money system in the service of the nation-state or limited, private interests? The same system may have other problems, such as the carrying capacity of the larger natural environment to provide enough water, arable land and energy to support the global population. But for political purposes, is the money system with government issued money placed into service with controlling policies that benefit stated democratic goals and institutions such as they are: Social Security, Health Care, Education, Housing and continuing technological improvements to reduce the time necessary for dangerous or repetitive labor. There are more important questions than a new system, that misses the point entirely. If it was a matter of technique, any system that keeps us from hunger, cold and darkness would do fine. Not that we have the best technical system or that we can not ever come upon with improvements or a completely different alternative that is better, technically speaking. The questions mostly raised here on NC are mainly that of technique. And the arguments usually arise from disputes among choices or what is appropriate or simply better among appropriate techniques. The question facing us with the financial collapse is political and this does take technique into account. But the larger scale question, that of the social order and what makes that order possible and WHO controls the order as it is constituted is what discussion always seems to be driving at. When Yves goes ballistic over the dismissal of the rule of law due to the criminal behavior of the financial elite by the political elite, all we see is who is in charge. And it is not reason or law. Without criminal prosecution, we all still seem to be able to feed ourselves and not riot in the street as in Europe or have armed civil war as in the Arab world. The social order can do without the rule of law, but not without the circulation of capital. Systemic failure of the financial system can be rectified with massive governmental intervention. But, for how long before the obvious take hold of the majority of the populace in a more demanding, political sense. If the government can come up with money for GM, Citi, AIG etc, what do we need their investors for anyway? Don’t mess with Mr In Between. We do not need the overhead costs, financial and political, of an elite class of wealthy who demand debt payments in order for government issued money to circulate. We just saw their inherently unstable system crash yet again. And we just saw the government placed into the service of maintaining the social order, without the private interests. We also saw the government placed into the service of restoring the private interests that were totally crippled. It is obvious to all. Or as my grandmother would say: a blind man galloping by on a horse would see it. What I am demanding, is that the market mechanism and the money system be placed in the service of the public. I think a better metaphor would come from information theory and money could be viewed as functioning in a cybernetic manner. Better than in service of his and her royal majesty. Nathanael December 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm The social order isn’t stable. We’re just watching the “calm before the storm”. People in France predicted imminent social collapse for roughly 50 years before the French Revolution. After a while, people started thinking it would never happen. Then, you know, the French Revolution. charles sereno December 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm I come not to praise Lietaer’s video — seems like a so-so TED presentation. There is another side to this man. Consider this video — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykvRceBQRl8 Was he not audible? Did he not deal with patriarchy and money and complacency (and complex systems) sitting down with an open heart? Yes, I learned much from him. I hope his ambitions will inspire future students to undertake a comparative archaeological study of Western vestiges of money in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Minoan economies. Oops, I’m not making cents. psychohistorian December 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm Thanks for the link. In spite of his suggestions for changes, the bottom line is the ending of the monoculture of private money. He can dress it up any way he wants but ending the control of private money in our world is the necessary first step. Lambert Strether December 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm First, mayonnaise on the french fries, now this… The video’s from 2012, so he’s still at it. Good. Maju December 10, 2012 at 1:46 am Try fry sauce (salsa rosa), 50-50 mayonnaise and ketchup, that’s pretty good. But mayonnaise better than ketchup, of course. Hypothetical_Taxpayer December 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm Sure. Latin America here we come. Mama Peso and Daddy Dollar. New some people from Brazil in the 80s and they would not recommend going that route at all. Jim December 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm The private sector of our economy and the public sector of our society are both dominated by large and administratively complex bureaucratic structures. These twin concentrations of power are working in partnership and coalition to control society (both public and private) and to control us. Many of their techniques of control are institutional ( through Big Capital, through Central banks and through macroeconomic stabilization policies carried on primarily through our Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury and our national Congress). As Leitaer indicates “We exist, Central banks exist, IMF exists for one purpose: to keep the system going as it is–the status quo of the system.” But it may in fact be the case that greater and greater efforts of stabilization over longer and longer periods of time only leads to accelerating the likelihood of a more profound collapse. ( See the history of the Soviet Union and the general consensus of their bureaucratic elites that institutional failures were never to be allowed). One thing which NC must continue to critically examine is whether our own elites excessive desire for stability and control is leading to ever greater fragility in our economy and society and whether some so-called strategies of reform (i.e. if MMT were to be bureaucratically instituted) end up only replicating the institutional logic of our existing structure of power–which must, instead, be dismantled–if we are to solve our crisis. The Rage December 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm The Soviet Union is a bad example. Because Russians aren’t as good as western europeans and western europeans were heavily intially heavily involved with the Soviet model formation. The Soviet was heavily subsidized by the owners of capital upon its formation and they made a quite hefty profit from the aventure. But Russia still sucks. They have not improved a bit. Put the general Soviet model under people of western european descent and you probably have a system that could last indefinitely. We just know that you can do even better with better systems rather than use a crude system like the Soviet model came to be. JTFaraday December 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm I don’t think we have the cultural resources to do that. I think we’re going to go sideways, at best, for quite some time to come. I also think that’s a very optimistic assessment. I’m not really that optimistic. If we shut the government down we could go sideways maybe. But we can’t do that, can we? The Rage December 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm The United States doesn’t have a true ‘central bank’. We have a private cabal of banks called the “Federal Reserve System”. People conflait the FRB with a “central bank”, but it is not. Everything is decided through the market mechanism’s ala some state oversight then handled by the FRB who’s members represent the banks. In otherwords, get rid of the FRS, you will have the same general decision making formations. The reason this is not overly wanted is because it would cut the government and banks from each other, which could give one side to much power ala National Banking System when the banks bailed out the government or the banks would lose legal government protections. The Nationalize the “FED” people want to end the FRS and give the government all the money creating powers across state lines, which the government does not have now. It would destroy the heart of the profit motive of finance Capitalism as most money creation would be handled by US Treasury giving most investment priorities to the government. rob December 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm what you have is incest.many children spawned of many parents….still the same family. It seems like what you say is true… but isn’t that the point? with a proper education in civics. all children will know “we” are the gov’t. through transparency, children will come to know that “we”, will have a say in investment priorities. through a tool such as a monetary system that doesn’t riddle “us” with debt,this will still serve as the means for the finance capitalist system to flourish.(unless a better form of capitalism morphs into existance…as finance capitalism took over from other forms of capitalism.) the fed may not be a true “bank” in a sense. but it is a true bank, in a sense…. you still have people in control(though now they are self-appointed chair holders to a private banking controlled cartel with public money strewn into the mix with little to no control by the shareholders (public) on the decisions made by the privately connected chair holders) the fed is “a” bank, like a “syndicate” is “a” mob.In that there is a power structure that can be seen, and even without “formal”written guidelines, acts regularly enough to uphold those guidelines as to act in unison. Each individual part acts for the whole ,and knows that to do otherwise would end in its dissolution from the whole. In his 1917 book,lenin wrote of banking” combines”.These were “seperate”banks, but through shared /mutual ownership of stock and holdings of reserves, their lots were cast together… this still seems to me to be the case. Glen December 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm Interesting talk. I’m sure he’ll never get an economic Nobel. jill December 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm via ActingMan: “In order to make this circular arrangement that is designed to camouflage government financing via the printing press more like the similar procedures practiced elsewhere, it has recently been decided that the BoE will remit the ‘profit’ it makes from its gilt purchases to the treasury. So, the central bank buys gilts with money it creates from thin air; the treasury then pays interest on these gilts; then the BoE pays the accumulated interest payments back to the treasury. It’s almost like a perpetuum mobile, or at least it seems that markets are regarding it as such.” Here are the numbers from a recent Economist article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/11/monetary-policy-4 Susan Pizzo December 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm Entire presentation available here: http://vimeo.com/49101201 tiebie66 December 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm Isn’t the problem really that Africans are hungry but have nothing to trade? If they did, at least barter would be possible. And if they had something very valuable, money would be created in short order, in one form or another, by someone or other, to facilitate the exchange. No? If one has nothing desirable to trade, money won’t fix the problem. Creating money to allow an exchange simply means that a money transfer of some sort becomes inevitable. Alms. This is where Greece is. (Contrast Greece’s response with that of Latvia and Iceland. It is my perception, perhaps wrongly so, that Latvia and Iceland at least addressed their problems in a less haphazard way – note that I’m making no other claims at this point). Money ‘lubricates’ the barter exchange, it does not drive it. Producing something needed/desired does. Money is not wealth. Having complementary or a diversity of money systems does not resolve a situation where trading partners are competitively poorly matched. It does, unfortunately, create more opportunities for obfuscation and abuse. casino implosion December 10, 2012 at 8:32 am Our own government is feeding us flat out misinformation and lies about the money system. From the .gov Treasury site FAQ section “What Is The DIfference Between Deficit and Debt”: “…The deficit is the difference between the money Government takes in, called receipts, and what the Government spends, called outlays, each year. Receipts include the money the Government takes in from income, excise and social insurance taxes as well as fees and other income. Outlays include all Federal spending including social security and Medicare benefits along with all other spending ranging from medical research to interest payments on the debt. When there is a deficit, Treasury must borrow the money needed for the government to pay its bills….” http://www.treasurydirect.gov/news/pressroom/pressroom_bpd08052004.htm Bernard Lietaer December 10, 2012 at 10:17 am I am just discovering this conversation string. Thank you for your interest in my work. I need, however, to start by asking that a correction be made in the title of this video. I have never been a “President of the Belgian Central Bank”. I served only as head of the Organization and Computer Departments during the period 1978-1983, period during which Belgium got the Chairmanship of the ECU project. Can someone please help me to fix this asap? Thanks! I am also open to answer your questions, if any. Cordially joebhed December 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm Mr. Lietaer, One of the commenters on this thread brought up the recent work by IMF researchers Benes and Kumhof on the Chicago Plan Revisited, a work that concluded that many economic stabilizing outcomes could be had by resort to a kind of public money administration. I was wondering your opinion on taking such a route as the research indicates. I appreciate your fondness for ‘diversity and resiliency in currency’ which leads to adoption of complementary currencies as an alternative or addendum to central bank currency. But this Chicago Plan revisit is founded on the works of Dr. Frederick Soddy and I was wondering if his rather holistic view of the roles of debt and money as relates to resource use and wealth might also have an influence on this dramatic turn of research work. Thank you. Lambert Strether December 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm Since the Internet is a hostile computing environment… I went to the About page of Lietar.com and found: Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money (translated in 18 languages), is an international expert in the design and implementation of currency systems. He has studied and worked in the field of money for more than 30 years in an unusually broad range of capacities including as a Central Banker, a fund manager, a university professor, and a consultant to governments in numerous countries, multinational corporations, and community organizations. I took it upon myself to alter the headline accordingly. Thanks for the interesting material, and sorry about the Nobel ;-) P.S. This link on your site to your c.v. is broken. duggie73 December 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm Taking the good sense of a complentary currency as a given, do you see any other sensible policy for avoiding systemic collapse of the monetary monoculture? Would be interested in your views on Steve Keen’s debt jubilee and governments issuing currency without bond issuance. Francois T December 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm Lietar at TEDx Berlin in 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORI8r3JIyw WorldisMorphing December 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm [“I am also open to answer your questions, if any.”] Since I am not one to pass on such an opportunity, I will take you up on that offer. #1. How long can the system muddle through on “regulatory forbearance”, creative accounting and dumb growth by dumb asset price inflation? #2. What is your position on social inequality ? How would you go about rectifying the aberration of economic rent, monopoly rent, land rent…? #3. Surely there must be some brewing “scientific” [cough] and ideological conflicts behind the scenes in every major central banks right now. What are the latest stories of the power struggle (Beyond Schäuble and Monti)? What’s their Grand Design …if there ever was one ? P.S. I know you weren’t President of a central bank…but surely you must have a few friends or acquaintances in high places… #4. Since the old struggle between Labor and Capital has now [d]evolved in to what is essentially a struggle between Finance and most everyone else — Is there a realization by our half-assed central planners that a few pockets of the proletariat are beginning to wise up and understand –really understand– that the ‘meritocracy’ which our system is supposedly programmed for has really oddly conspicuous “programming errors” ?. Some even venture to say that what unenlightened capitalism has in common with that abject communism of the Soviets, is that both condemned large part of their population to mediocrity…which eventually self-perpetuated and metastasized the social fabric. Casino capitalism became an engine with 99 times more friction than function. Of course, not only finance is to blame, because as you well know, finance is a set of rules which depends on …The Rule of Law. **Now here’s my gift to you Bernard, since I like you, [I favorited two of your videos after all (but warn you that your answers could sway my opinion!)] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tfYL_mqrNI The whole video is worthwhile, but pay attention to the last commenter’s very pertinent observation ;-) WorldisMorphing December 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm Sorry; meant (Beyond Schäuble and Draghi) Comments are closed.