Category Archives: Basic Concepts

Understanding the “big picture” of change

The past several decades have seen the emergence of diverse movements that seek to address specific problems and provide general improvements to society. Environmentalists have been trying to stop pollution, climate change and resource depletion; civil libertarians seek to stop the abuse of basic human rights and the erosion of democratic institutions; humanitarians are trying to end hunger, disease, and degrading treatment like human trafficking, genital mutilation and genocide, to name a few.  And yet, the juggernaut rolls on, destroying more forests, polluting more water, concentrating more power and wealth in fewer hands. The need for change is obviously becoming more urgent, but why isn’t it happening?

This latest post by Tom Atlee helps to frame both the fundamental problem and broad approaches to transformation. Please give it your careful attention– then take appropriate action.

Surveillance and parasitism harm society’s collective intelligence

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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

 

Milestones in Moneyless Exchange

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I often compare the evolution of exchange alternatives to the development of aviation. Just as many early attempts to fly were clumsy and poorly informed by good science, so too have been many early attempts to create private and community currencies. But much has been learned over the past three decades, and conditions are ripe for major advances in our ability to rise above antiquated and dysfunctional means of  payment. My role is to guide the design and implementation of community based currencies and trade exchanges that enable general prosperity and a stable and sustainable economy.

During my upcoming tour of Europe I will be speaking about the power of community currencies and mutual credit, and consulting with communities on doing good things where they are.

With still two weeks to go, our Crowdfunding campaign is now more than halfway toward our goal. Thanks for your support, and please help spread the word. Our campaign site is http://igg.me/at/tomstour/x/31801.

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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Developing a framework for an equitable, harmonious and sustainable global society

The current global mega-crisis is forcing us to confront the flaws and inconsistencies inherent in the present dominant structures of economics, money, and finance. As a result, we have before us a great opportunity to open up a conversation that admits to consideration ideas and proposals that may have heretofore be rejected out of hand as radical, impractical, or utopian, ideas like those put forth by Mahatma Gandhi three quarters of a century ago.

My good friend and scholar, Rajni Bakshi, has recently articulated that possibility and those ideas in her article, Civilizational Gandhi. You can download the full article here. I also recommend her article, Replacing Keynes With Gandhi.

Ms. Bakshi is the Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations based in Mumbai, India.

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The Rev. Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping–a Terrorist Organization?

According to the Mud Report, the FBI has declared that The Church of Stop Shopping to be a terrorist network. Of course, as their sources of money and credit dry up, the majority of people will have no choice about it, but to advocate that they stop shopping prematurely could upset the plans of the global elite. We cannot allow that can we?

Counting the Cost – Money for nothing

Tarek El Diwany and Jem Bendell have done a great job in this Al Jazeera interview program explaining the dysfunctional features that are built into the corrupt global system of money and banking. They also cover Islamic banking and mutual credit clearing. This is a “must watch” video.—t.h.g.