Category Archives: The Debt Imperative

Global debt soars; no end in sight

I have often pointed out, but almost no economist is willing to admit, that central governments play an essential role as “borrowers of last resort” to keep a flawed system of money and banking from collapsing. In their collusive arrangement with the banking elite, government’s debts will be monetized through the actions of their respective central banks. This is the process of currency inflation, which is now euphemistically called “quantitative easing.”

The empirical data makes this plain to anyone who cares to look at it and put two and two together. The Bank for International Settlements has just reported that global debt has increased more than 40 percent in just the past six years. You can find more details about that in this recent Bloomberg article: Global Debt Exceeds $100 Trillion as Governments Binge, BIS Says.

When debt growth, fueled by compound interest, hits the wall of physical reality, something’s got to give.

Newsletter – March, 2014

Contents. (This edition will be timely but brief).

Back to America

My latest article

Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability

Malaysia

Hi, Well it’s just a matter of hours now before I board my flight that will take me back to the United States. I always find other places and cultures interesting, but four months abroad has been long enough and I’m looking forward to being back in more familiar territory, seeing friends and family, and discovering what the universe has to show me next. To begin with, I’ll be enjoying the relative calm and quiet of the Arizona desert, then looking for a more permanent place to hang my hat.

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My latest article

I spent a good amount of time over the past few weeks writing an article that I was invited to submit for publication in an online journal, Transformation, published by Open Democracy. I’m pleased to announce that my article, Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative was published yesterday. You can read it here,

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Upcoming Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability. Call for papers extended to March 14th

A recent message from Birte Ewers announces that the 4th International Degrowth Conference to be held in Leipzig Sept 2-6, and that the original deadline for submissions of short papers has been extended. The deadlines for other formats have expired but deadline for “short papers” is now March 14th. The review process will be concluded by the end of April. See the conference website at http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/ and the Call for Papers at  http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/call-for-papers/ for details.

About The Conference:

4th International Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability – Bridging movements and research for the great transformation.

The International Degrowth Conference has reached its fourth venue. Since Paris 2008 the debate on how to move away from a growth-oriented economy towards a more sustainable society has drawn world-wide attention. The fourth international conference will take place in a country that is considered as the European engine of economic growth.

Different traditions of growth critique, such as the concept of a post-growth society stemming from the German-speaking community and the French and Southern European degrowth debate, are invited to a fruitful dialogue. The conference seeks to bring practitioners, activists and scientists together and encompasses various formats for presentations, interaction, workshops, and exchange.

The 4th conference will address following thematic threads (abstracts for short papers can be submitted to any of them):

- Organizing Society (Emancipatory politics, participation, institutions)

- Building a social and ecological economy ((Re-)productivity, commons, society-nature relations)

- Living conviviality (Buen vivir. Open knowledge. Convivial technology)

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Malaysia

For my current journey in Southeast Asia, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) serves as both my entry point and exit point. Flights to and from KL tend to be cheaper even than Bangkok, and I always enjoy spending some time in Penang, which is only about a 4 ½ hour bus ride from KL Thailand is easily reached from there.

Malaysia is quite a developed country, though it still has some third world charm, as well as annoyances, like the roar of motorbikes zipping around through every available space, making it difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to cross the streets. Sidewalks, if they exist at all are usually obstructed by parked motorbikes, or food stalls, or even workshops that flow out into the public spaces.

One interesting thing about Malaysia is language. Almost everyone speaks some English and signage is usually in both English and Bahasa Melayu, or Malay language, which derives many words from English. Malays have developed what seems to me to be a very reasonable pattern of phonetic spelling.

Here are a few familiar English words with their phonetic Malay spelling, which I think we should adopt.

Complex

Kompleks

Bus

Bas

Central

Sentral

College

Kolej

Bicycle

Bisikal

Community

Komuniti

Counter

Kaunter

My pictures from my November visit to Penang

https://picasaweb.google.com/112258124863172998784/201311Penang?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMnztYHzp4268gE&feat=directlink

Pictures from my February/March visit to Penang and Kuala Lumpur have not yet been uploaded.

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Joke of the month

Certainly not original, but here it is; some of you may appreciate it.

You know you’re old when you and your teeth no longer sleep together.

May you enjoy this season when life springs anew,

Thomas

Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative

My latest article, Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative, was published today (March 3) in the online journal, Transformation. Read it here. –t.h.g.

New video describes “A flaw in the monetary system”

This is an excellent video–clear, concise and accurate. If you want to understand why we have recurrent financial crises, dire want amidst plenty, and why debts keep growing faster than ability to pay them, this is a great place to start.–t.h.g.

“The new film ‘A Flaw in the Monetary System?’ depicts in 7 ½ minutes consequences of interest and compound interest in the financial world in descriptive graphics. It illustrates the systematic redistribution of money from the majority to the wealthy.”

See it here: https://vimeo.com/71074210

 

End poverty by ending the corrupt central banking system

Thirteen year old Victoria Grant speaks truth to power in calling for a massive change in the way we do money and banking. Brilliant!

Corrupción Extrema, la causa de la Extrema Pobreza. subtítulos en español

A few words of gratitude +

ScreenIndiegogo June3We’re on our way! Thanks to you our crowdfunding campaign has exceeded our goal. We are now assured that we will have sufficient funds to carry out our planned work in Europe this summer. Altogether, the tour will span 9 weeks from mid-June to mid-August. The first half is pretty solidly booked with multiple events in the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Greece; the second half is a bit more flexible with some room for spontaneous developments.

As you know, the debt crisis continues to worsen. Austerity for Greece is still in the news, and depositors with funds in Cyprus banks have been forced to take a “haircut.” Don’t be surprised if bank deposits in other countries get raided in like manner by their respective governments.

While the spotlight is presently on Europe, this crisis is global and bound to worsen. Virtually every country of the world has a central bank, and those in the developed world at least, work together. Every one of them is set up to allow their respective governments to deficit spend, and banks to lend our own credit back to us at interest. They will monetize the debt to whatever extent is necessary to keep the game going. The exponential growth of debt is inherent in the way money is created. It must stop somehow, sometime. All efforts to keep it going are futile in the long-run.

Currency inflation and cuts to social programs are the paths that bankers and policy makers have chosen, but that will do no more than delay the inevitable, and in the process create more pain for the masses. Either we create new methods for exchange and finance, or we descend into chaotic collapse and widespread civil unrest.

Let us hope that this year will see the widespread emergence of decentralized, community-based, credit-clearing networks. That’s what my mission is all about, and that’s our the best approach to making a peaceful transition to a steady-state economy and sustainable way of life.

Again, my sincere thanks for your help in supporting this important work!

Thomas

Do Banks Create Money out of Nothing?

One of my correspondents recently referred me to an article and asked for my opinion about it. The article is Creating Money out of Nothing: The History of an Idea, by Mike King, dated April 2012 .

I read the abstract, the conclusions, and part of the body text, but could not bring myself to make a detailed read. “The history of an idea” is not relevant to my interests nor to the debt crisis that plagues civilization. Verbose and tedious, it seems to be an academic exercise that I doubt  will be of interest even to historians.

On the positive side, it did prompt me to write a few words of clarification on the question, words that I think are both pertinent and helpful to those who truly wish to understand the nature of money and the role of banks in today’s world.

The accusation that banks create money out of nothing has, according to King, been made by many famous economists, including Schumpeter, von Mises, and Keynes. I too must admit to having once or twice used that statement as a sort of shorthand criticism of the global money and banking system.

It is surely true that saying that banks make “money out of nothing” is an exaggeration that can be misleading to the uninitiated.

Bank actually create money out of something. The question is, what is that something, and what is wrong with it?

The short answer is that banks create money on the basis of the promises of their borrowers to repay.

Mr. King would have us believe that banks simply take in money from savers and lend it out to borrowers. That is clearly wrong. Even the Federal Reserve, in its own publications, says that,

The actual process of money creation takes place primarily in banks.(1) As noted earlier, checkable liabilities of banks are money. These liabilities are customers’ accounts. They increase when customers deposit currency and checks and when the proceeds of loans made by the banks are credited to borrowers’ accounts.

In the absence of legal reserve requirements, banks can build up deposits by increasing loans and investments so long as they keep enough currency on hand to redeem whatever amounts the holders of deposits want to convert into currency. This unique attribute of the banking business was discovered many centuries ago.–Modern Money Mechanics

As I’ve pointed out in all of my books, banks serve two primary functions. They act as both depositories, reallocating funds from savers to borrowers, and banks of issue that monetize the promises of their borrowers. I’ve explained that in detail in Chapter 1 of my book, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, and in Chapter 9 of my latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

But not all promises provide a proper basis for creating money. As Edward Popp, describes it, banks create both bona-fide and non-bona-fide money. (See Money, Bona Fide or Non-Bona Fide at http://www.reinventingmoney.com/documents/bonafidePopp.pdf).

The vast majority of the non-bona-fide money that banks create, is created on the basis of loans made to national governments (when banks buy government bonds). Further large amounts of non-bona-fide money are created when banks make loans to finance purchases of consumer goods and real estate (see my books for details). This is a violation of the principle that money should be created on the basis of goods and services on the market or soon to arrive there, which includes promises of established producers who are ready, willing and able to sell for money the things they ordinarily offer.

The bottom line remains: the present global, interest-based, debt-money system, is dysfunctional and destructive.

The creation of money on the basis of interest-bearing loans is the cause of the growth imperative, and the creation of non-bona-fide money is the cause of inflation.

If we are to achieve a sustainable society and assure the survival of civilization, we must transcend the present money and banking paradigm and reinvent the exchange process.  – t.h.g.

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How does mutual credit clearing enable moneyless exchange?

Here’s and excellent, short and sweet description of how mutual credit clearing works to provide interest-free liquidity. From Bartercard New Zealand…

Why Congress Will Not Prevent the Crash

As economists go, Robert Reich is one of the more rational and humane, but he suffers under the same delusion as the others.  In a recent blog post, he describes why he thinks that “January’s Fiscal Cliff Turns into a Gentle Hill by February (or March).

What Robert Reich, and most economists fail to understand is that the federal budget cannot possibly be balanced so long as we have a debt-money system in which banks create money based on interest-bearing debt. This system contains a debt-growth imperative. As time goes on total debt must continually increase to keep the money supply pumped up. When the private sector is all “loaned-up,” government becomes the “borrower of last resort.” Failing in that role, we have a contraction of the money supply, defaults, unemployment and recession. If government assumes that role, we have inflation. So take your choice: recession or inflation, or some of each.

No amount of “Quantitative easing,” or tax cutting, or spending reductions will get us out of this dilemma. Politicians may be able to delay it a bit longer, but no amount of policy tweaking can prevent the inevitable crisis. The problem is systemic and only a complete restructuring of money and banking will solve it. -t.h.g.

 

Money Malfunction, and What We Can Do About It

We have in Professor Jem Bendell a very competent spokesman for monetary transformation. This video hits all the right points, provides all the right answers, and gives viewers some direction for positive action.