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2,700 branches of a government-owned Bank of the Poor are being built by order of Mexico’s new president

February 8, 2020

Ellen Brown reported in a recent article that, at a press conference on Jan. 6, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the neoliberal model had failed; private banks were not serving the poor and people outside the cities, so the government had to step in. 

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president

Thomas Attwood would have rejoiced at President Obrador’s words to a local group in December, explaining that he was setting up a Bank of the Poor to reach 13,000 branches, more than all the private banks in the country combined.

At a news conference on Jan. 8, he said: “There are more than 1,000 municipalities that don’t have a bank branch. We’re dispersing [welfare] resources but we don’t have a way to do it.  . . .  People have to go to branches that are two, three hours away. If we don’t bring these services close to the people, we’re not going to bring development to the people. … They’re already building. I’ll invite you within two months, three at the most, to the inauguration of the first branches because they’re already working, they’re getting the land … because we have to do it quickly”. Digital banking will also be developed.

The president said the 10 billion pesos ($530.4 million) needed to build the new branches would come from from federal savings from other programs and that five million had already been transferred to the Banco del Bienestar.

The bank’s operating expenses will be covered by small commissions paid on each transaction by customers, most of whom are welfare recipients. Branches will be built on land owned by the government or donated, and software companies have offered to advise for free.

López Obrador says that his goal is to construct a “new paradigm” in economic policy aiming not only to increase gross domestic product but also to improve human welfare.

Read more about the good plans made by President Obrador – who has been compared with Jeremy Corbyn – on the Watershed website.

 

 

 

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CREDEX, a community currency, is being launched in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

October 19, 2019

Malcolm Currie, who often attended the Bromsgrove Group, has drawn attention to the Birmingham chapter of Green Drinks, which started in 1990, is active in over 500 cities worldwide, listed here and is fundamentally about face to face interaction.

On Tuesday 17th September, a Green Drinks session focussed on CREDEX, a community currency being launched in the Jewellery Quarter, at the LOCANTA RESTAURANT, 31 LUDGATE HILL, ST PAUL’S SQUARE. B3 1EH. The usual arrangements for Green Drinks applied and readers may see further information, on its website, by looking up the name of their nearest town.

The session featured Stuart Bowles’ introduction to CREDEX, an alternative/community currency.

The origin of this credit based system is the SARDEX currency of Sardinia. Turnover of this B2B system, amongst Sardinian SMEs, was €81million in 2017. Read more here.

The system has been adopted by eleven of mainland Italy’s regions, each region establishing its own local variant. This is a genuine “bootstrap” currency, which promotes the local, encourages innovation, supports moves toward sustainability. See the CBS article here.

It is a wholly credit based system; requires no capital or national currency loans to start trading; bears no interest; has no dependency on external funding.

Those attending learnt how this currency will operate in the Jewellery Quarter and how to get involved in developing it further.

CONTACT: Malcolm Currie, Globally Local, info@globallylocal.net

 

 

 

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What will save the day if the current global trade recession turns into something more pernicious?

August 4, 2019

A new book by the economist *Frances Coppola makes the case for a ‘people’s QE’.

She argues that directing money to ordinary people and small businesses is the fairest and most effective way of restoring crisis-hit economies and helping to solve the long-term challenges of ageing populations, automation and climate change. The central bank would finance the transfers by creating electronic money, as it does with QE.

She reminds us that the Australian government sent millions of households money during the 2008 financial crisis and avoided recession. See the Sydney Morning Herald. The transfers included:

  • pre-Christmas payments of $4.8 billion for pensioners,
  • $3.9 billion in support for families
  • and $1.5 billion for first-home buyers

Other central banks created trillions of dollars of new money but poured it into financial markets

‘Quantitative Easing’ (QE) was supposed to prevent deflation and restore economic growth. But the money didn’t go to ordinary people: it went to those who didn’t need it – big corporations and banks – the same banks whose reckless lending caused the crash. This led to a decade of stagnation, not recovery. QE failed.

Would a people’s QE succeed?

 

 

*Frances Coppola is an alumnus of Cass Business School, studying for an MBA with a specialism in finance and risk management. She then spent 17 years working for various banks, from large to small, retail and investment banks.

 

 

 

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Reinterpreting money – Podcast 4: a growth-neutral financial system

June 21, 2019

 

Feasta (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) has produced a new podcast series, Beyond the Obvious, which is co-organised by Feasta and the European Health Futures Forum

In the introduction to the 2008 Feasta Annual Lecture, our late friend and colleague Richard Douthwaite describes the link between our current debt-based money system and economic growth. He explains how joining the euro and the loosening of lending restrictions allowed Ireland to live significantly beyond its means, based on ever increasing private debt.

 

 

Beyond the Obvious: Podcast 4: Reinterpreting money begins with a brief excerpt from Richard’s introduction. This is followed by a discussion with Mary Mellor, Emeritus Professor at Northumbria University, who has published extensively on alternative economics and Graham Barnes, a currency innovation strategist and co-organiser of Feasta’s currency group (duration approximately 27 minutes)

As Greta Thunberg has observed, ‘green growth’ isn’t a realistic option in an economy that is hitting against resource limits and severe ecosystem degradation. So we need to think hard about how to transition to a growth-neutral financial system.

Topics covered in this podcast include the role that debt-free money has played historically, money as a commons, sufficiency provisioning to ensure everyone’s needs are meant within ecological constraints, participatory budgeting, myths about the role of the market in the economy, and complementary currencies.

 

 

 

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Discovered by chance in the Scottish Herald: an unattributed obituary for James Gibb Stuart

May 28, 2019

Though in 2013 two tributes to James Gibb Stuart were published on this site, the chance discovery of this unattributed article in the Scottish Herald is well worth sharing with all who knew him. For the full text click on the Herald link.

James Gibb Stuart, who has died at the age of 93, was a businessman, author, publisher and philanthropist whose 1983 book The Money Bomb laid out his controversial views on economic and monetary reform.

Born in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, and educated at Camphill Secondary School, he joined the family ironmongery, painting and decorating business, W Gibb Stuart Ltd, which was founded by his grandfather William in 1880 in Kilmacolm and Bridge of Weir.

When the war broke out, James Gibb Stuart was in the Territorial Army and served initially with the Highland Light Infantry before, in 1941, joining the Royal Air Force training as a navigator on Mosquito fighter-bomber aircraft. A posting to India in 1942/43 followed and when the Mosquitoes were found to be unsuitable for the conditions there. He was then switched to Halifax bombers flying over China and the Bay of Bengal in the war with the Japanese.

He was demobbed in 1946 following the cessation of hostilities, returning to the family business to run it with his brother Hugh – the third generation of the family to do so. Trading was difficult in this austere post-war period – the retail world was changing, never to be the same again. The business survived and improved, adapting with the changing times. In 1962 a contract was secured to paint the new electronics complex developing in Spango Valley, Greenock at IBM with facilities opened both in Greenock itself and at Port Glasgow.

Receiving the UK Islamic Mission’s Community Champion award

By the early 1960s, Mr Gibb Stuart had begun to develop an interest in politics. He met Angus Graham, the 7th Duke of Montrose, Minister of Defence in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia from 1965-66, and it was Lord Graham who interested Mr Gibb Stuart in monetary reform. His interest in Southern African politics saw him becoming involved in the Scottish-South African Society of the 1980s. He turned to writing in 1978, and in the 1980s bought William MacLellan Publishing Ltd, subsequently forming a new company Ossian Publishers Ltd. His first book The Mind Benders on Scottish independence was published in 1978. The connection with the Duke of Montrose would surface again in later years when another imprint, Stuart Titles, published Castles in the Air, the autobiography of Lady Jean Fforde, sister of the Duke of Montrose.

Stuart titles now incorporates Ossian books specialising in both cultural heritage books and publications with a pertinent message to all of us today, not only in Scotland itself, but within the UK and beyond. Stuart Titles Ltd began in the 1980s when James Gibb realised that the key to true independence lay in the control of a nation’s wealth, and the creation of its money.   He began promoting this message through Maclellans publishing house, which he eventually took over and renamed Stuart Titles Ltd.

The Money Bomb in 1983 included the author’s views on economic and monetary reform. He identified the role which the banking and finance system played in perpetuating debt, poverty and economic instability and suggested stabilising the national debt by using government-created money to fund the annual interest, leading to reduced taxation and social welfare improvements. It is fair to say that the book made quite an impact initially: a front-page story in the London Evening Standard on the day of Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe’s Budget. However, bookshops did not stock the book and it received precious little publicity despite the belief that it had sympathetic ears close to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Quite why there was such a negative reaction and censorship to the book remains a mystery.

Attwood Award for services to monetary reform.

In 1997, Mr Gibb Stuart founded the Bromsgrove Conference, an annual economic event of which he was convenor until 2008. He was also chairman of the Scottish Pure Water Association and received the UK Islamic Mission’s Community Champion award in recognition for the work undertaken to promote economic justice in the Islamic community and the rest of society.

He was also presented with the American Monetary Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual conference in Chicago.

At the 15th Annual Bromsgrove Conference in October 2011, James – by then into his 92nd year – was honoured by the Thomas Attwood Group for services to monetary reform.

James Gibb Stuart’s name (right) has been stitched on the Great Tapestry of Scotland (panel number 157), Parliament of the Ancestors, Parliament for the Future).

This accolade was bestowed on him by members of the public after a debate at the Festival of Politics in which participants were asked to make a list of people who had influenced the shape of Scotland.

The James Gibb Stuart Trust, a registered educational charity, was incorporated in April 2008. It has a specific emphasis on explaining the banking and financial system of the UK and the world, to lay-people and legislators.

 

James Gibb Stuart: Born: August 30, 1920; Died: September 25, 2013.

 

 

 

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Fran Boait: Britain can afford higher levels of public spending

April 1, 2019

Fran Boait, Executive director of Positive Money (right), has written in the Financial Times:

Martin Wolf is right to suggest that Britain can afford higher levels of public spending (“ How to finance the rising burden of public spending”, January 11). 

After a lost decade of austerity, the UK economy is crying out for investment in infrastructure, public services and action to save cash-strapped families from the clutches of high-cost credit.

Though there is room to raise more tax revenue from wealth and capital, taxation is not the only means of financing increased public spending. As Mr Wolf himself well explained nearly six years ago, monetary financing can be a legitimate and advantageous means of increasing public spending:

“When expanding private credit and spending is so hard, if not downright dangerous, the case for using the state’s power to create credit and money in support of public spending is strong.”

With an economy already burdened by high levels of both private and public debt, monetary financing, as used by Canada, Japan and New Zealand to quickly recover from the Great Depression in the 1930s, must be an option on the table in the event of the next downturn and when the scope for tax rises are limited.

 

 

 

 

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MP: Green Quantitative Easing can apply to the Bank of England as well as the EU’s European Investment Bank

March 18, 2019

Thomas Attwood with his lifelong concern to promote measures which would lead to full employment, peace and prosperity, would have commended the proposals made by MP Caroline Lucasexpressed recently in the Financial Times. She wrote:

Your editorial’s call for the EU’s European Investment Bank to print bonds that the European Central Bank could then buy to fund green energy and infrastructure is equally applicable to the Bank of England (“The ECB is attempting to step ahead of events”).

The UK Green New Deal group has been calling for just such a green quantitative easing programme for some years, and BoE governor Mark Carney, in response to a letter, stated that if the government agreed then it could expand the range of assets it purchases.

The BoE could then purchase new debt issued in the form of green bonds by a national investment bank to fund energy efficiency in all buildings, renewables and local transport systems.

This UK Green New Deal would provide jobs in every constituency, invest in precisely those communities that have been hollowed out by years of deindustrialisation and austerity, and — crucially — provide an example of how to dramatically reduce carbon emissions for a world increasingly waking up to the urgent imperative to tackle the accelerating climate crisis.

 

 

 

 

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