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Switzerland’s Vollgeld initiative: inspired by Joseph Huber and James Robertson, backed by Martin Wolf

June 8, 2018

Quartz magazine and many other media outlets report that Switzerland votes in its “sovereign money” referendum on Sunday to decide whether banks will be prohibited from lending more money than they have in deposits, meaning only the central bank will be allowed to “create” new money.

At the 2014 launch of the Vollgeld Initiative, in the Media Center Bern, Switzerland, Hans Ruedi Weber, president of the NGO Monetary Modernization said:

Just over six years ago, at the height of the crisis in 2007/08, the book “Creating New Money” by Joseph Huber and James Robertson (pdf here) was translated into German. At that time we decided to start a sovereign money (Vollgeld) initiative in Switzerland”. 

By November the “Vollgeld Initiative” had successfully managed to collect 100,000 signatures – the number required to trigger a nationwide referendum on the issue.

Switzerland’s Vollgeld Initiative is backed by Martin Wolf. He explains that to make the system safer, banks would be stripped of the power to create money, by turning their liquid deposits into “state” or “sovereign” money. He writes:

“The proposal raises questions about the purposes to which the new sovereign money might be used. The obvious possibility is to use the money to finance the government. This idea is highly objectionable to some: it would surely create big challenges.

“Yet those challenges are nothing like as fundamental as was transferring responsibility for a core attribute of the state — the creation of sound money — to a favoured set of profit-seeking private businesses, co-ordinated by a price-setting government institution, the central bank.

“In no other economic area is public power so mixed with private interests. Familiarity with this arrangement cannot make it less undesirable. Nor can familiarity with its performance”.

Wolf states the advantage of the Vollgeld proposal: “It is a credible experiment in the direction of separating the safety rightly demanded of money from the risk-bearing expected of private banks. With money unambiguously safe, it would be far easier to let risk-taking institutions bear the full consequences of their failures”.  He ends:

“The Vollgeld proposal could provide an illuminating test of a better possible future for what has long been the world’s most perilous industry.

 

“May the Swiss dare”.

 

 

 

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Thomas Attwood would have saluted the creation of the second American public bank

June 1, 2018

American Samoa is creating the second public bank in the United States. The Federal Reserve is allowing the Territorial Bank of American Samoa access to the U.S. payments system nearly two years after the bank first applied.

Federal funds and public assistance will be deposited in the bank and business loans will be provided to the small-business community.

The Territorial Bank opened its doors in October 2016 but lacked access to the payments system which enables transaction to take place with other U.S. institutions and offer traditional amenities to customers, such as cheques, debit and credit cards.

American Samoa is a U.S. territory covering 7 South Pacific islands and atolls. It has its own democratically elected legislature and governor, but all laws must be approved by the U.S. president, who retains the power to dissolve the legislature. Its people are not American citizens, but American nationals, with the right to live and work in the states.

Officials across the seven islands have been seeking a way to maintain local banking services since the Bank of Hawaii announced in 2012 it was leaving the territory. Only the Australian bank ANZ remained in the territory but its profits leave Guam and it has given no help to develop the territory’s economy.

The other American public bank – a model?

States like New Jersey and cities like Seattle and San Francisco are receptive to the idea of forming new public banks as a way to help the local economy.

Public-bank supporters see the Fed approval as a sign that there won’t be regulatory hurdles to the creation of additional public banks in the U.S. “It does set a precedent,” said Ellen Brown, founder and president of the Public Banking Institute, which is backing the New Jersey effort. “It definitely will add impetus.”

The model is vigorously opposed by the banking industry and conservatives, who view state-run enterprises as government intrusion in the market.

 

 

 

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Escaping Growth Dependency: Positive Money

May 1, 2018

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Positive Money campaigns for reform of the monetary system – taking away the power of private banks to create money through making loans – and instead bringing in a system of sovereign money creation in which the government creates money and spends it into the economy. 

The focus is on how the current monetary system creates high levels of public and private debt, which are only manageable if there is ecologically unsustainable economic growth.

Chapter 3 of its latest report explains how private banks create money to finance the purchase of assets, especially property, inflating the price of housing relative to earnings.

The conclusion is that high debt, in the current monetary system, is incompatible with a zero-growth or steady-state economy.

Positive Money proposes a sovereign money system involving the Treasury issuing non-interest paying bonds which are purchased by the Bank of England using money created for that purpose.  These payments would be credited to the government’s account, to be spent into the economy.  This debt-free money could reduce the amount of private and public debt, leading to a more stable economy.   

The New Economics Foundation argues that money does not arise naturally from the workings of the market but is brought into being by governments through their requirement that it be used to pay taxes.

It could therefore be constructed differently, bringing in restrictions on the amount of interest that can be charged and controlling the amount of credit that can be created for particular activities:

  • money could be directed towards investment in a zero-carbon future;
  • its creation for speculation prevented
  • and controls brought in over international capital flows.

Such reforms would enable governments to pursue socially and environmentally economic policies which would improve the human and natural environment.

Download Full Report here. 

Read Positive Money’s latest news here.

 

 

 

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March visitors

April 4, 2018

People from 11 countries visited the site in March.

There were twice as many visitors from the USA than the next largest, UK

As often happens, more visitors are interested in articles with historical content rather than monetary reform.

Top post was about Park Attwood, Worcestershire, which opens:

Some years ago the writer visited the therapeutic centre, Park Attwood twice, with friends in need of health care. She was immensely impressed by the ambience of the place, and the excellent multi-facetted healthcare offered, which included organic food grown on the Steiner farm nearby.

Last month it occurred to her that there might be a connection with the family of Thomas Attwood. Knowing that many people visit the site for articles with an historical content, she looked further afield.

Continues: https://thomasattwood.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/park-attwood-worcestershire/

 

 

 

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Will Fiscal Money ‘create hysteria in Northern Europe’?

March 22, 2018

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Biagio Bossone, formerly at Banca d’Italia, the IMF, and the World Bank, an international financial consultant and Chairman of the San Marino Banking Association and a member of the Group of Fiscal Money, Italy, comments on an article in the Financial Times by Martin Wolf

“Mr Wolf agrees that the fiscal money proposal that we have developed and promoted for years is technically possible, albeit that “it would surely create hysteria in Northern Europe”. Well, it shouldn’t.

“Fiscal money would be issued as transferable and negotiable bearer bonds, which recipients would be entitled to use for tax rebates two years after issuance. Such bonds would carry immediate value, since they incorporate sure claims to future fiscal savings, and would be immediately exchangeable against euros or usable as payment instruments in parallel to the euro.

“Under European accounting rules, they would not constitute public debt. Fiscal money would be allocated, free of charge, to supplement employees’ income, reduce enterprises’ tax wedge on labour, and fund public investments as well as social expenses.

“Fiscal money is sometimes wrongly characterised as the anteroom of Italexit. Quite the contrary — it provides a way to overcome the eurosystem’s dysfunctionalities that condemn the Italian economy to a permanent state of depression”.

Fiscal Money has been proposed to the Italian government to boost aggregate demand and increase GDP without increasing public debt

In Social Europe, journalist Enrico Grazzini examines the main differences between various proposals:

  • Fiscal Money or Tax Discount Bonds (TBDs) are issued by the state and backed by the future tax revenues. TDBs would be assigned directly to the households, companies and (only pro quota) to government administrations as the best, and maybe the only way to overcome the liquidity trap and the austerity constraints.
  • Helicopter Money involves a central bank dropping free money straight into people’s pockets, recently advocated by many economists (such as Eric Lonergan and Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times) as the very best solution of last resort to increase demand and face the next possible crisis.
  • and Quantitative Easing for the People, proposed by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who would like the Bank of England to issue new money to finance a state bank and public investment as the optimum way to expand the British economy in an equitable way.

Bossone summarises: “Fiscal Money would allow Italy to expand domestic demand and improve enterprise competitiveness, while avoiding any increase in public debt and breaches of the fiscal compact. In fact, it would make debt sustainable, reversing the effect of years of austerity, and would remove any inducement for the European Central Bank to withdraw Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” pledge”.

For more information go to: https://monetafiscale.it/english-version/, https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-15/italys-parallel-fiscal-currency-all-you-need-know and https://www.socialeurope.eu/fiscal-money-better-helicopter-money-qep-beating-deflation-austerity

 

 

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Green/Labour collaboration to achieve People’s Quantitative Easing?

March 3, 2018

Wikipedia describes People’s Quantitative Easing as a policy proposed by Jeremy Corbyn during the 2015 Labour leadership election, which would require the Bank of England to create money to finance government investment via a National Investment Bank.

As Bright Green adds, “People’s QE is essentially a re-badging of an idea contained in the Green New Deal, championed on numerous occasions by Caroline Lucas. Green Infrastructure QE was the idea of using public money to build highly insulated homes and to convert buildings to be more energy efficient.  By doing so, the economy would grow, people would have better-quality homes to live in and we would finally be starting to take proper action to deal with climate change”.

We also draw attention to the work of Richard Murphy and Colin Hines who presented Green Quantitative Easing in 2010 as explained here. In this alternative form of QE, the money created by the Bank of England is provided to a National Investment Bank to inject into the real economy. In other words, it funds new investment, infrastructure repairs and retrofitting.

QE4People says: “The current Quantitative Easing program of the European Central Bank is an ineffective and unfair response to the financial crisis. We, civil society organisations from all across Europe, propose an alternative form of QE which would make sure money is spent into the real economy and benefits those that need it the most. We call this concept ‘Quantitative Easing for People’ “.

Current QE is ineffective, unfair and risky. It works by pushing money into the financial markets, in the hope that some of the new money will ‘trickle down’ to the real, non-financial economy, through extra spending by the wealthy, or through money creation by private banks – when they make loans.

In 2016, MEP Molly Scott Cato spoke to EU Reporter’s Catherine Feore on a better alternative to the ECB’s quantitative easing programme. She argues that #QE4People could be used to finance green investment and expressed the hope that there could be some cross=-party collaboration on this issue- just as Bright Green does in the final paragraph of this post.

In the UK, the Bank of England created £375bn, used to flood the financial markets, and by the Bank of England’s own estimates, this pushed up share and bond prices by around 20%. Since 40% of the stock market wealth is held by the richest 5% of households, QE has made those households better off by an average of £128,000 each and the evidence is that it has done very little to create jobs and increase economic growth.

With over 18 million people currently unemployed, the Eurozone needs money to be injected directly into the real economy instead, so it can improve people’s lives by boosting employment and spending.

There is a range of concrete proposals for how QE for People could be implemented. The money currently being created by the European Central Bank could be given directly to Eurozone citizens and/or spent on much needed public investment such as green infrastructure, affordable housing – or in any other way which would contribute to the genuine development of the real economy.

QE4People, and their civil society organisation members from all across Europe, believe they urgently need to re-think this approach and turn this wasted opportunity into a programme that delivers a sustainable recovery in the Eurozone. They aim to foster a public debate around Quantitative Easing for People, arguing that the money created through QE should be spent into the real economy so that it can benefit individuals and society as a whole.

In a recent article in The Week, Delhi’s Devinder Sharma harks back to 2013, when an Oxfam report said that $240 billion, the net income in 2012 of the richest 100 billionaires, would be enough to wipe out global poverty four times over.

In other words, he continues, removing global poverty and hunger, which was always on the top of WEF rhetoric, required only $60 billion.

Over the years, he continues, especially after the economic meltdown in 2008-09, the United States and the European Union have been aggressively printing money and he tweeted that year to then US President Barack Obama asking him to print an additional $120 billion and give it to a group of international organisations (with backing from G-20 countries) to launch a time bound programme to remove poverty two times over. As expected, he didn’t get any response, but later he learnt that economists had launched a campaign for ‘Quantitative Easing for People’ in 2015 and comments: “That’s the way it should have been. Poverty and hunger could have become history by now”.

Endnote, Bright Green says that the Labour Party may now have a proper socialist leader once more, but the Green Party is still the home of ecosocialists . . . and while retaining our own distinctive ideas and influences, Corbyn’s election is a chance for us to collaborate to achieve our aims.

 

 

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Conference on Money Reform at Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

February 18, 2018

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The American Monetary Institute sends news of the fully booked Conference on Money Reform at Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute which took place earlier this month. Our Money, Our Banks, Our Country: Money Creation in the Modern Economy Conference was presented at the beautiful Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute near Zurich, Switzerland.

It was well organized and hosted by Uli Kortsch, founder of the Monetary Trust Initiative and Global Partners Investments.

Speakers on money creation and current conditions included Prof. Richard Werner, Prof. Larry Kotlikoff, William White, William Dunkelberg, and Martin Wolf, Chief Financial Commentator, Financial Times. Read more about the contributors here.

In general, there was a consensus that change was needed.

There were presentations for the Swiss full money initiative by

Prof. Sergio Rossi,

Prof. Joseph Huber,

and Lecturer Katarina Serafimova

and against by

Economics Editor Jurg Muller,

Prof. Aleksander Berentsen,

and Ruedi Noser, politician.

 

Robert Poteat*, Director, American Monetary Institute summarises:

In terms of a debate, the presenters for the initiative gave well-constructed and documented presentations with slides and data. The presenters against the initiative provided no data or logic to support their position.  Their arguments mostly relied on fear of change.

In the opinion of this observer, the people against the initiative gave strength to support the initiative with the intellectual poverty of their arguments.*

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*To read more about Robert Poteat, click on this link and scroll to the foot of the page.

 

 

 

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