Tag Archives: inflation

How do central banks control interest rates?

Question: How do central banks control interest rates?

Answer: By creating counterfeit money.

Of course, they will never admit that. They see their “purchases” of debt instruments, mainly those of governments, as being legitimate. But such purchases violate sound monetary principles, and even their legality is questionable.

The obvious question that must be asked is “Where do central banks get the money with which to buy those debt instruments?” The answer is, they do not “get” the money, they create it–by fiat. This is  their celebrated “quantitative easing,” which is actually currency inflation. The new “high powered money” thus created puts new “reserves” into the banking system, which banks use to multiply their own purchases of government bonds and other assets.

Without this “monetization” of debts by the banking system, newly offered debt instruments, like government bonds, would have to offer higher rates of interest to attract buyers from the general public.

Interest rates on the ever-increasing amounts of sovereign debts can only be kept low by this sort of central bank intervention. As I put it, central banks are the “buyers of last resort” for bonds that cannot be sold at artificially low rates of interest. The chart below show just how desperate the situation has become since the financial crisis of 2008.

Interest Rate Elephant In The Room

 

Initially, however,  in the case of the Fed, the purchases were of “junk” that the banks had created during the real estate bubble. That was the bailout that saved the banks but put the squeeze on people through foreclosures, layoffs, and loss of income on their savings.

As shown in this chart and others I posted previously, all he major central banks are doing the same thing, so foreign exchange rates are not too adversely affected–yet. But keep your eye on Brazil, Russia, India, China, and other countries that show signs that they may not be willing to play along./ t.h.g.

The emerging market mess and US manipulations

Anyone who wants to understand present-day geopolitical phenomena must pay attention to former Assistant Treasury Secretary, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts is one of a handful of people who understands what is going on–and is willing to tell people about it. Explore his website http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/, and be sure to listen to his recent interview with Eric King, here.

In that interview, Roberts tells the story of how and why the US interferes in money and securities markets, and the effects those manipulations have on others around the world. He also predicts that the Federal Reserve will soon be faced with the choice of either saving the banks or saving the dollar, perhaps as early as the end of this year. But I suspect that the Fed may not quite yet have exhausted their bag of tricks. Because banking corporations dominate politics in most of the world, and because the dollar’s role as the global reserve currency has served the purpose of Western dominance, the Fed, in alliance with other central banks, will try to save both the banks and the dollar for as long as they can.

What is actually being protected is the global usury-based debt-money regime, that unholy alliance between politicians and top level banks that enables central governments to spend far in excess of their tax and other revenues, thereby thwarting democratic government and the popular will, while enabling banking institutions to privatize our collective credit and charge us interest (usury) to access it.

So what do the central banks have left in their bag of tricks as they taper off their massive amounts of  “quantitative easing” (currency inflation)? That’s the question to ponder. I think it’s obvious that they will (1) try to corral everyone’s savings and all surpluses into government securities and Wall Street equities (think, privatization of Social Security), and (2) outright confiscation of bank deposits via selective bank failures and assessments on depositors (ala the recent Cyprus trial balloon).

Still, those can only be, at best, delaying tactics, and not without serious social and political repercussions. The real solution will continue to be denied and delayed by the powers that be. Thus it must emerge from the bottom, from the creative instincts and talents of innovators in many fields who are bringing to market better ways of mediating the exchange of value and financing the creation of sustainable, Earth-friendly, and life-supporting products and services. –t.h.g.

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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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October Newsletter and Fall tour itinerary: Europe & UK

In this edition

Fall Tour Itinerary – Europe and the UK

The Wealth of the Commons now in print.

Recent posts

  • QE3
  • Riegel essays:
    • Right-wing Socialists
    • Breaking the English Tradition

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Fall Tour

My fall tour agenda has filled out nicely and includes an exciting assortment of presentations, workshops, and consultations.

On October 1, I will begin a five week tour that will take me to Switzerland, Greece, and the UK.

Here is a chronological list of events. If you wish to participate in any of them, please go to the indicated website or get in touch with appropriate contact person.

3-6 October. Geneva. Presentations and conferences with Community Forge. “CommunityForge is a non-profit association that designs, develops and provides complementary currency systems and tools.” (Use the “Contact” button on the website to connect with Tim Anderson). This stop will probably include a presentation at the UN Palais des Nations, Human Rights Social Forum, on October 3. My topic will be “Strategies for community empowerment and the creation of economic democracy.”

7-14 October. Crete, Greece.

On October 10 and 11, I will be a presenter at the International Sustainability Summit, to be held at the European Sustainability Academy (Sharon Jackson, Director ).

The segment on Strategic shifts in prevailing systems includes a 2 day workshop that will focus specifically upon Community Exchange Systems and Alternative currency systems for Sustainable Communities. On October 10, I will give a presentation on The Emerging Butterfly Society: Making the shift to a steady-state economy and a world that works for all. Details and registration materials can be found at: http://www.eurosustainability.org/en/esa_summit4.htm

15 October to approximately 21 October. Mainland Greece

During this time period, I will be traveling to Thessaloniki, Volos, and Athens. Specifics are still developing.

25 October. York, UK

I will be speaking at the York LETS Conference on the topic, “Why local exchanges and currencies fail to thrive, and what is required to take alternative exchange to scale.” Booking at, http://yorkaltcurrencies-efbevent.eventbrite.co.uk/ . Info at Facebook.

October 27-28. London. Events on Money and Alternative Currencies are being planned by Mary Fee of LETSlinkUK, http://www.letslinkuk.net/. Details will be posted here when available.

30 October. Ambleside (Lake District). Cumbria University, Presentation, Beyond Money, Banks, and the Left-Right Divide.

31 October. I will be delivering a free public lecture, A New Approach to Community Economic Development at Cumbria University in Lancaster, UK.

1 November. I will conduct a workshop titled, Complementary Exchange Systems: Design, Organization, and Implementation, at The University of Cumbria in Lancaster( Room AXB003) from 2pm to 5pm.

Details of both events at: http://www.localwealth.co.uk/tom-greco/

Register for either at http://www.localwealth.co.uk/booking-for-tom-greco-events-in-lancaster/ .

I will return to the U.S. from London on November 5.

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The Wealth of the Commons

Following my participation in the Commons Conference in Berlin two years ago, I was asked to contribute a chapter to an anthology titled, The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market & state. This book is a “new collection of 73 essays that describe the enormous potential of the commons in conceptualizing and building a better future.” At long last, the English edition has now been published and can be ordered from Leveller’s Press,

I think the chapter I wrote for this book is one of the most succinct and information-rich essays I’ve ever written, so I’ve posted it here on this site at Reclaiming the Credit Commons.

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QE ad infinitum (QE3)

“Quantitative Easing,” commonly referred to as “QE,” is a euphemistic expression for currency inflation, i.e., the creation of money on the basis of junk securities and empty promises. On September 14, Ben Bernanke announced that the FED would continue to inflate the dollar on an ongoing basis for “as long as it takes.” A week earlier, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announced a similar plan to save the Euro by buying the bonds of euro-zone governments, notably Spain and Italy. “There will be no “ex ante limits on the size” of the purchases, said Draghi.” He sugar-coated the bitter pill by saying, “governments that want the ECB to buy its bonds must agree to a program of reforms and oversight by the bailout funds and possibly the International Monetary Fund.” We know what that means for the ordinary person. Two of my recent posts address these announcements (http://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/20/qe-ad-infinatum/, and http://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/21/et-tu-ecb-inflating-the-euro/).

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Recent posts

In recent weeks, I’ve been re-reading some of E. C. Riegel’s essays. I’ll be posting the more important ones from time to time. Here is one that, although written more than 60 years ago, seems especially timely: The Right-wing Socialists.

Another important Riegel essay is, Breaking the English Tradition, which years ago I embedded, with my comments in a post to my other website Reinventingmoney.com. That post titled, The Politics of Money, can be download at http://www.reinventingmoney.com/documents/BreakingEnglishTradition.pdf.

Hoping to see some of you along the way,

Thomas

QE ad infinitum

Last week, Ben Bernanke announced that the FED would continue to inflate the dollar on an ongoing basis for “as long as it takes.”

As I’ve said before, purchases of securities by the FED amounts to the injection of counterfeit money into the economy under color of law. It’s bad enough when FED purchases are limited to federal government securities. In that case, it is federal budget deficits that are enabled. Now, the FED is buying, at inflated prices, “junk” (securities of little worth) from banks, financial institutions, and speculators, enriching those who caused the bubble in the first place, and enabling more of the same.

This is just another move by the banking and financial elite to take ownership of the entire world.

A recent article in ZNet by Jack Rasmus concludes,

The significance of the Fed’s QE3 move therefore is there will continue to be free money in unlimited amounts to banks and investors to hoard or to speculate and play with, while it’s cuts in spending and disposable income for the rest of us. But ‘QEs for them’ and ‘Austerity for the rest of us’ will mean continued economic slowdown and recession, accelerating in Europe, more slowly coming in the US, and increasingly on the horizon for even Asia.

That continued economic slowdown—in the US and globally—will make the private banking system in turn even more unstable, regardless of how many FED QEs are introduced.  So why do governments continue with ‘austerity’ policies on the fiscal side that ultimately negate QE policies on the monetary side?  Because QEs are more profitable to bankers and investors. And those bankers and investors believe if they can just hold out in the short run—with the government and central bank making up for their short term losses with trillions of ‘free money’ injections, in the longer run the capitalist system will self-correct itself on its own. But that proposition—i.e. bail out investors and bankers and let the markets do the rest—is economic ‘ideology’ and not economic fact or science.

As governments, bankers, and financial elites continue to abuse the currency, the economy, and our political institutions, it becomes ever more urgent that people cooperate in organizing new structures of exchange and finance that empower them sufficiently to meet their basic needs and build “the Butterfly Society” to save the planet and provide a dignified life for everyone. — t.h.g.

Why All Governments are in Debt

Here is a concise and eloquent statement by Godfrey Bloom, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), describing the fraud that is being perpetrated on the people of every country by the politicians and bankers who collude to perpetuate to central banking regime.

The central banking regime enables parasitic drains on the economy in the form of unnecessary interest charges levied on the people’s use of their own credit, and chronic deficit spending by national governments that is enabled by putting counterfeit money into circulation under color of law.

Who’s Left, who’s Right, and who should issue money?

I have in my possession, a copy of a copy of an essay by E. C. Riegel, one of many that I gleaned from the files of Spencer MacCallum who had the foresight to rescue Riegel’s literary legacy from oblivion, and the good sense to make his insightful works on money and freedom generally available. The article titled, The Right Is Still To Come, is transcribed below. It bears no date, but I would guess that it was probably written sometime between 1945 and Riegel’s death in 1953.

In the very first paragraph, Riegel sets forth the essential target of his argument, saying, “The professed socialists and the professed anti-socialists are united as monetary socialists in the common superstition that money springs from the State.” I long ago took Riegel’s argument to heart and have taken up the cause of dispelling that superstition, most notably in Chapter 8, The Separation of Money and State, in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

I personally try to avoid using imprecise terminology and political clichés that are emotionally charged and tend to get in the way of rational thinking. Riegel, on the other hand, can be forgiven for some slight indulgence in political rhetoric that seems to us perhaps judgmental and outdated.  Keep in mind that he lived in tumultuous times that were scarred by two world wars, the great depression, and the rise of totalitarian governments bearing the various labels of fascist, communist, or socialist (any critique of Capitalism in the west at that time was overwhelmed and suppressed in a number of ways). These are the terms that defined people’s loyalties, as nations contested violently with one another to decide how people should be governed. The reader should not be put off by Riegel’s framing his arguments in terms of left, right, socialist, capitalist, and collectivist. His writings clearly show that he was, after all, a champion of peace, freedom, and social justice.

The emphasis of particular sections in the following essay has been added by me to highlight major points.–t.h.g.

THE RIGHT IS STILL TO COME by E.C. Riegel

On the left stands the socialist, back of him stand a hundred capitalists.  All society is composed of conscious and unconscious socialists.  The professed socialists and the professed anti-socialists are united as monetary socialists in the common superstition that money springs from the State.  The birth of the Right awaits disillusionment from this all-confounding fallacy.

There are advocates of many different money reforms but none renounces the basic error of the socialization of the money system.  To none of the believers in free enterprise does it seem incongruous to leave the State in complete control of the medium whereby free enterprise must articulate.  The right to freely contract and the sanctity of contract is seen as cardinal to free enterprise.  Yet, to leave to the State the power to alter contracts by altering the meaning of the money unit in terms of which all contracts are expressed, does not seem to professed capitalists contradictory.  Thus the State exercises its most vicious interventionism by making itself a party to all contracts, an unbidden and perverting party.

Some would limit, by various devices, the amount of “money” the State should issue.  Others would limit the amount of “credit money” that business men should issue.  Still others would abolish the later entirely, counting only government issues as genuine money.  None would abolish so-called money issues by government, leaving the money issuing power to the only true issuers, the private enterprisers.

With monetary socialization accepted, the choice is confined to different methods of perversion.  There is no monetary Right and since free money is basic to a free economy, there is no philosophy of the Right.  To merely complain against the drift toward socialism does not make one a true anti-socialist.  To propose or support political money reforms does not make one’s surrender to socialization any less abject, nor betrayal of free enterprise less vicious.

The trend toward socialism was set when business men accepted the cry, better called superstition, that money issuance and control are functions of political government—the political money system.  That fallacy, until exploded, makes the progressive socialization of the entire economy inevitable.  The pace of this perversion is not determined by the amount of resistance offered by the alleged opponents of socialism, but by the degree that the State indulges its perversive power by emissions of false money into the blood stream of business.

The pace of this perversion is quickening all over the world; a huge flood of water-money threatens to inundate all.  Can we preclude disaster by bringing those who call themselves anti-socialists over from the Left to the yet unoccupied Right?  Can we induce businessmen to think and act in terms of the economic means rather than the political means?  Can we build an economic statesmanship?  In short, can we sell capitalism to capitalists?  If we can we will save private enterprise and the social order.  If not, the deluge.

Painful as it may be to change habits of thought, (if indeed, prevailing money ideas can be called the product of thought) the triumph of free enterprise over socialism and tyranny can be accomplished only by the renunciation of the fallacy of political money power and the assertion of exclusive power of private enterprise to control and issue money.  When we realize that the political money system has operated almost from the beginning of money, it may be seen what a break with tradition this proposal involves.

The long existence of the political money system does not, however, imply continuity of operation or vindication.  There have been countless instances of the breakdown of national money units through excessive dilution of the money stream by the State.  All money circulations have been a mixture of genuine money issued by private enterprisers and spurious issues by the State.  Following these breakdowns the State set up new money units and repudiated the old.  During the transition from the old to the new, exchange has been kept alive by resort to other national units that were still relatively stable.

What makes the present inflationary crisis unprecedented is the universality of the decline of political money units and that the U.S. dollar, the strongest unit, is being subjected to blood transfusion to sustain other units.  Thus the superstructure of the entire political money system is being bolstered by timbers taken from the foundation with the ultimate result that the whole structure will collapse together.  It is therefore imperative that we change superstitious money ideas for rational ones before it is too late to avoid worldwide chaos.

Why no State Can Issue Money

To understand money is to understand why it cannot spring from any government, national, state or city.

The purpose of money is to obviate the necessity for contemporary delivery of value by both parties to an exchange transaction and thus greatly expand exchange.

By means of money its issuer is enabled to purchase values from any supplier, who, in turn, is enabled to do likewise, the money ultimately reaching a supplier who has need of the issuer’s values and thus the reciprocating trader is found and exchange is completed and the money retired.  Account is balanced by passage of value both ways, the medium, money, having no value.

Money can be issued only by a buyer who later, as seller, redeems his issue.  He must, to stay in business, bid for money with value because that is his only way of gaining income. He must price his values competitively or he can make no sale.  Thus, by his circumstance of being a private enterpriser he is ideally suited to issue and redeem money.

Contrast the State’s situation.  It is not a trader; it does not sell.  It needs not bid for money; it merely requisitions it by taxation. Since it has no way of redeeming money by open competitive bidding, it cannot issue it and its professed money issues are inescapably spurious.

The power and need to issue money is inherent in private enterprisers and thus it operates under natural checks and balances, while to the State it is entirely unnecessary and unnatural and no amount of fixing can supply the requisites that it lacks, nor is there the slightest reason for undertaking such artificiality.  The State would never have gotten into its present unnatural position of its own necessities, for, it always had its taxing power, before the advent of money, to levy in kind and under money exchange to levy on money.  It was forced into its anomalous position by the ignorance of businessmen who, not understanding money resorted to the superstitious belief that it needed the State’s imprimatur.

In spite of all the abortiveness of the political money experience professed friends of private enterprise and self-styled anti-socialists continue their efforts to perpetuate it by added gadgets.  None has contributed in the slightest degree toward liberating private enterprise from it.  Private enterprisers do not even know that, as bank borrower they are money issuers.  They think that their participation in the money system is a secondary one and that even this depends upon a grant from the State.  The truth is that every money unit ever issued has come from private enterprisers and that no money has ever or ever can be issued by any state.  The only thing that makes it possible for the delusive political money system to operate at all is that the true money issued by businessmen serves as a host for the parasite issues of government to feed upon.  No government could build a money circulation of itself anymore than a farmer can produce watered milk from the pump alone.  In this metaphor government is the pump and private business is the cow.

How the political Money System Sabotages Private Enterprise

Every businessman knows that stock splits involve an increase in the number of shares without an increase in capital.  What he does not understand is that so-called money issues by government are but money splits involving merely an increase in the number of units without an increase in the money supply.  The analogy ends there.  In stock splits the corporation does not rob the stock holder.  In the process of money splits the government issues them by taking goods and services out of the market, thus robbing the economy, thereby depreciating the power of each money unit.  This is called inflation and inflation is in turn defined, naively, as “too much money chasing too few goods”, whereas it is but the same amount of real money mixed with spurious money with the economy robbed in the sum of the spurious money.

With the so-called capitalist world deluded into thinking that what government issues is money, the process of sabotaging the economy has open sesame.  It enables the State to practice paternalism and paternalism is the mother of socialism.

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