Category Archives: Developing Alternatives

Fasten your seat belts…

1/30/1981 President Reagan and David Stockman meeting on the economy in the Oval Office

In his current subscription pitch and announcement for his new book, PEAK TRUMP: The Undrainable Swamp And The Fantasy Of MAGA, David Stockman lays out some startling facts, provides a cogent analysis, and makes some dire predictions. As President Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director and long-time political insider, Stockman should be heeded. Here are some excerpts:

“We are in a whole new ball game. The Deep State, the House Dems, the Mueller hit squad and the mainstream media are all going in for the kill.

“They are determined to take the Donald down and preserve the rule of the bipartisan establishment in favor of Empire abroad and Big Government, massive debt and Fed-fueled Bubble Finance at home.

“At the same time, the Donald is now practically handing them his political head on a platter. That’s because he has bombastically embraced the “big, fat, ugly bubble” that he so accurately harpooned during the campaign.

“But that bubble has now reached a fatal triple-top and is fixing to implode, and to take the American economy and Trump’s presidency down with it.”

Stockman says, “We are heading for the double whammy of a political/constitutional crisis and a thundering financial breakdown at the same time.” He argues that it was the failure of “the Washington/Wall Street consensus” that led to Trump’s victory in 2016, and that actions of the Federal Reserve have caused a massive asset bubble along with huge disparities of incomes and wealth.

He goes on to say that “just because Donald Trump targeted the symptoms correctly [during his campaign] that doesn’t mean he had a plan to fix the American economy or the skills and know-how to move the turgid, essentially paralyzed machinery of the Federal government.” Stockman  characterizes Trump as “a political flyweight, megalomaniacal incompetent and bile-ridden bully who stumbled into the Oval Office against all odds.” He decries the massive growth of government debt over the past four decades and boldly asserts that recession will hit the US economy before November 2020, and that “Wall Street, the US economy and the Donald’s fantasy of MAGA will come tumbling down with it.” Whether or not his timing is correct, it is clear that a political and economic shipwreck is just ahead.

Stockman decries the “bipartisan ruling class” which is “in favor of permanent war, unchained entitlements, fiscal incontinence, unsustainable debt-fueled household spending, rampant corporate financial engineering and Keynesian monetary repression and “wealth effects” based central banking that lies at the roots of our current economic malaise,” and referring to the Mueller Russiagate investigation and subsequent impeachment hearings, Stockman says, “the Donald’s fluke elevation to the Oval Office has finally caused the Deep State to come out of hiding and bare its fangs against American democracy itself.”

Stockman criticizes the Fed for “dithering” and delaying “normalization,” by which he presumably means raising interest rates and ending Fed purchases of government bonds. He also calls for “fiscal rectitude” (balanced budgets) on the part of the government, something that even his beloved Ronald Reagan was unable to pull off.

But what Stockman (and everyone else) fails to realize is that, under the interest-based debt-money regime that has prevailed throughout the modern era, it is impossible for national governments to consistently balance their budgets. Here’s why. Since money is created when banks make loans, and since interest is charged on those loans, aggregate debt increases simply with the passage of time. If growth in the money supply does not keep up with debt growth, many debtors will default and the economy will sink into recession. Thus, the banking system must find ways to keep people and corporation borrowing ever greater amounts of money. Over my lifetime I’ve seen banks roll out a succession of creative schemes. Starting with the liberalization of consumer credit following World War II (“Buy now; pay later”), then the widespread issuance of credit cards, then the introduction of “student loans,” then the easing of requirements for people to buy real estate, banks have gotten people to borrow more and more.

Then, when the private sector is all “loaned up” and cannot take on additional debt, the government must step in as “borrower of last resort.” By deficit spending, financed through the issuance of bonds, the national government, with the help of banks that buy those bonds, the money supply is expanded. (When banks buy government bonds they are making a loan to the government). And when all available funds have been sucked up, the Fed must step in as “lender of last resort” to itself buy up additional government bonds while keeping interest rates at acceptable levels. That approach, called “quantitative easing,” is what saved the global system of money and banking from total collapse in 2008 after the housing bubble burst. Thus, the government and the banking establishment are locked together in a deadly embrace and “dance of death” that is spiraling out of control.

It may very well end with a major decline and long drawn out recovery, as Stockman is predicting, but unless a new interest-free money system is implemented after the wreckage is cleared, the ultimate outcome may simply be another round of ever more extreme boom-bust cycles and political chaos.

The good news is that there are credit money innovations waiting in the wings, and now emerging, that can be rolled out, replicated, and networked together to usher in a “Butterfly Economy” and new world order of peace, justice, and human unity. For details about what the Butterfly Economy might look like, and how we might get there, see my video, The Butterfly Economy: How Communities are Building a New World From the Bottom Up, and my article, Reclaiming the Credit Commons: Towards a Butterfly Society. — t.h.g.

Spanish Edition of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization

I’ve waited ten years for it to happen but I’m delighted to announce that, thanks to the efforts of translator Enric Montesa and publisher Julio Fernández, my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, is now available in Spanish. The Spanish language edition, titled El Fin del Dinero y el Futuro de la Civilización, can be ordered from the publisher, Ediciones Kaicron, at their website, https://www.kaicron.es/tienda/el-fin-del-dinero-y-el-futuro-de-la-civilizacion/.

The book will be introduced and discussed in Madrid this Friday (November 8) during a roundtable session, Money and Sustainability, at the four day event, Biocultura: La Revolución Ecológica (Bioculture: The Ecological Revolution).   

How to get the job done!

Several months ago while hiking in Sabino Canyon near Tucson I noticed out of the corner of my eye something astonishing. Fortunately, I happened to have my phone with me so I recorded it. I’ve recently taught myself some video editing skills so now I am able to share the experience. The video below clearly shows what can be achieved when there is coordinated action working toward a common objective. Are humans as smart as ants?

A prime example of stigmergy

You can also find it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Vg-8J72Jp-Y. Help it go viral.

A conversation with Ron Whitney

In our latest Beyond Money Podcast we explore with Ron Whitney the evolution of the commercial trade exchange industry, which over the past 50 years has proven the workability of credit clearing as a way of doing business without the need for money payment.

Ron operated his own trade exchange for 15 years, and since 2007 has taken on the role of President and CEO of IRTA, the International Reciprocal Trade Association, the premier trade association of, and advocate for, the commercial trade exchange industry.

Ron shares his vast knowledge and insights about the current challenges, prospects, and opportunities, including a description of the benefits of trade exchange membership and the increasing use of Universal Currency (UC) to enable purchases and sales over an extended trade exchange network.

This interview can be found at: http://beyondmoney.libsyn.com/ron-whitney-irta, or https://soundcloud.com/user-27167973/ron-whitney-irta.

You can find links to all of our Beyond Money Podcasts in the menu at the top of this page or at https://beyondmoneypodcast.wordpress.com/.

Summer Newsletter-2019

Greek mountain village

Monetary alchemy: how to turn bad money into good

In my latest article, just published on Open Democracy, I describe how fiat money can be transmuted into a truly effective and scalable community currency, while at the same time providing a way to finance community improvement projects like affordable housing. Key features that distinguish my design from other “fiat backed” currencies that have been tried before are (1) the limitations placed on cash redemption, and (2) the requirement that the community currency be issued as loans to businesses based on the amount of needed and desired goods and services they have available for immediate sale. You can read the full article here.

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Libre Not Libra: Facebook’s Blockchain Project

Facebook’s Libra crypto-currency project has caused a major uproar. In this talk, delivered on June 19th 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland, respected technologist, entrepreneur, and crypto-currency guru Andreas Antonopoulos provides an interesting interpretation of the nature of Libra and its implications for the future of payments, privacy, and freedom, all of which is both exciting and terrifying. Antonopoulos couches his comments in the framework of what he sees as the emerging “currency wars,” distinguishing among government currencies, corporate currencies, and people’s currencies on the basis of the principles that underlie them. You can view the video here.

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Europe and the UK

I spent most of May and half of June on the other side of the Atlantic conferring with colleagues in the UK and Italy, and living in community at the Kalikalos Holistic Center in Kissos, Greece, where I’ve stayed many times before. My work in the UK has been ongoing for almost a year during which time I’ve been advising a group that has now formed the Open Credit Network.  

“The Open Credit Network is a cooperative of businesses who have come together, under a simple shared agreement, in order to trade with each other without the need for hard cash.”

This project is still in the formative stages but is making good progress. UK cooperatives and small businesses are invited to get involved.

During my trip I managed  to mix in a bit of R&R, enjoyed spending time with friends old and new, and toward the end of the trip had some fun with friends Yannis and Catherine rafting on the Voidomatis river in the Vikos gorge in northern Greece. This experience is one of many being offered through Yannis’ new travel platform, https://www.gofreedly.com/.

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How to Legally Not Pay Taxes by Tom Wheelwright

I discovered this video by accident while randomly browsing YouTube. Whether your goal is to play the system and become rich, or to change the system to make it fairer, you need to pay attention to this presentation. Tom Wheelwright, is a high powered CPA and tax advisor who describes here how entrepreneurs and investors legally avoid paying taxes. In this video, he points out that on average, those who are classified as employees pay a tax rate of about 40%, and professionals like doctors and lawyers get hit even harder with an average rate of 60%, while entrepreneurs pay only around 20% and big investors pay virtually zero. It’s all a matter of knowing the tax laws and how they favor capital over labor.

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Dr. Laurence Victor, R.I.P.

I was greatly disturbed by the content and tone of Larry’s last message to me on Friday July 5, so I dropped by his place to see him on Saturday morning, but when his wife greeted me at the door she asked, “are you psychic?” and told me that Larry had just died a few hours earlier. I’m sorry I did not have the opportunity to bid him farewell. His health had been in decline for several months, and he had reported suffering severe pain from a massive tumor at the back of his tongue that his doctors said was inoperable.

With PhDs in both physics and psychology Larry had a long career in academia. He was a brilliant and innovative thinker whose unique perspectives on life, civilization, “uplift,” and human “emergence” fascinated many. Larry was a good and respected friend of thirty years. He will be greatly missed.

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Movie reviews

I’d like to recommend two movies I’ve seen recently.

Pavarotti is the story of opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935–2007) who had perhaps the greatest operatic voice of the past 100 years. Director Ron Howard does a masterful job of telling the story of a man whose life impacted the world of music well beyond the narrow confines of opera, and whose generosity touched the lives of many. The story and the music will move you deeply, .…if you let it.

The Biggest Little Farm. Exquisite in every aspect, this film tells the inspiring story of a professional couple who take a leap of faith into small-scale, diversified farming in southern California. Tracing their trials and tribulations over several years, it shows what can be achieved when working with nature to find balance.
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Wishing you a pleasant summer,

Thomas

P.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard wants the U.S. to stop its endless wars and do what it takes to REALLY make America great again. Let’s keep her in the Presidential debates by making a small contribution to her campaign.

LowImpact.org, working toward a new economy and a new society

We need to change direction urgently, by building a new kind of economy and society, and there are 4 ways that we can do this:
1. By changing the way we live – https://www.lowimpact.org/topics-2/
2. By changing the way we spend our money –
https://www.noncorporate.org/
3. By changing the exchange medium – https://www.lowimpact.org/why-join-ne…
4. By federating and growing the non-extractive economy

Watch the video

Liquidity and Monetization-a monograph

By Thomas H. Greco, Jr. Revised, May 20, 2019

Liquidity

Quite simply, liquidity is the ability to pay.

We are all accustomed to paying for purchases with legal tender money. We do that in one of several ways, either by handing over paper notes or coins, by using a debit card that debits our bank or credit union account, or by using a credit card by which a bank temporarily advances the amount we need to make the purchase. In every case, it is bank-created money that is being rendered.

Banks are supposed to provide liquidity by monetizing the value-added by local enterprises. They do this by making loans to finance working capital and business expansions and development. But banking has become increasingly centralized as local banks have been taken over by large bank holding companies that have less concern for local economies and favor lower risk loans made to large corporations and government entities that are remote from the local community. Thus, money is lavished on central governments that use much of it to make war and build weapons far in excess of what is needed to provide security, and to enable the continual expansion of mega-corporations that reduce market competition and concentrate wealth in ever fewer hands.

But there are still some locally owned and managed banks. You can find some by going to Move Your Money project. Still, that is only an easy first step. Even those banks must invest much of their resources in government bills and bonds and large corporate securities in order to survive in a milieu of manipulated markets and a regulatory environment that tilts in that direction. Further, since banks create money by making loans at interest, the entire system forces continual growth of debt, artificial scarcity of money, and environmental destruction.

What must ultimately happen is described in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. A proven approach is the organization of local credit clearing exchanges that enable businesses themselves to cooperate in collectively monetizing their own value-added, without the burden of interest and without the growth imperative. This is already happening at both the grassroots and commercial levels, but more optimal exchange designs need to be implemented and the entire process needs to be scaled up by networking trade exchanges together.

Monetization

Quite simply, monetization is the process by which value claims are converted into liquid or spendable form, i.e., to a device we commonly call “money.”

Def. 1. Monetization is the process of converting the value of an illiquid asset to a liquid form, i.e., a form that can be used as a payment medium (money).

Def. 2. Monetization is the process of creating money on the basis of some foundation value.

Example: A bank or other entity can create credit instruments, like notes, “deposits,” or account balances on the basis of an asset upon which it has a claim. For example, when a bank makes a loan against a business’ inventories it creates money which can then be spent into circulation by the borrower. That money then circulates through the economy and presumably becomes available to consumers to purchase the inventory upon which that money was created. In a sense, that money is a virtual representation of the value of goods (or services) that are available for purchase in the market.

However, banks also often monetize the value of real estate or other assets that are not on the market. A bank’s mortgage claim against a property allows the bank to create an amount of money that is some portion of the presumed market value of that property. Monetization of such assets can cause general price inflation.

A peculiar and destructive aspect of the present money system is the monetization of debts, particularly the debts of the central government. The monetization of existing debts puts more money into the economy without putting more goods and services into the economy. This is a major cause of price inflation. When economists speak of debt monetization, they are referring to the process by which central banks add to the money supply by purchasing government bonds. In the United States, for example, when the Federal Reserve Banks wish to expand the amount of money in circulation, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will buy U.S. government bonds on the open market.

In brief, the process is as follows:
The FOMC purchases government bonds on the open market. It pays for them by issuing a check to the seller. This check is drawn against no funds. In other words, the Fed creates the money needed to pay for the bonds simply by making an entry on its books. But this is not the end of the monetization process. This new, so-called, high powered money enters the banking system when the bond seller deposits the funds in a bank. This provides the commercial banks with new reserves upon which the banks can expand their own lending, thus creating even more money. If the bank then buys a government bond, then still more government debt is monetized. This is a primary cause of price inflation.

Commercial banks also create money when they make loans to individuals or businesses, but these loans are usually secured by the pledge of some collateral assets—a car, a house, or some other valuable asset owned by the borrower. Thus, the banks monetize the value of that collateral, i.e., they transform the value of collateral assets into spendable form, i.e., money. As borrowers repay their bank loans, the portion of the money payment that is applied to the loan principal is extinguished. Thus money is created when banks make “loans,” and money is extinguished when loan principal is repaid.

Monetization of value outside of banks

In non-bank exchange mechanisms, such as local currencies and mutual credit systems, the participants, apart from any bank involvement, empower themselves to monetize their own labor, skills, and inventories. They can also monetize the value of their physical assets. Established enterprises have plenty of assets that can be monetized. These include working capital (inventories of merchandise or raw materials and accounts receivable), as well as fixed capital (plant and equipment like buildings and machinery). Working capital turns over in the market in the short term, while fixed capital produces marketable goods and services over a longer time period.

A fundamental question that arises is, “which assets are appropriate for monetization and which are not?” Or, perhaps a better question is, how can each type of asset be monetized so as to provide the necessary liquidity for consumption while not adversely affecting the value of the currency or the general level of market prices?

It is better to issue a community currency by monetizing the value of existing inventories and service capabilities than it is to monetize the value of fixed assets because a loan on the former is self-liquidating. A self-liquidating loan is “a type of short- or intermediate-term credit that is repaid with money generated by the assets it is used to purchase. The repayment schedule and maturity of a self-liquidating loan are designed to coincide with the timing of the assets’ income generation. These loans are intended to finance purchases that will quickly and reliably generate cash,” [i] or in the case of a credit clearing exchange, the credit that was advanced will generate sales sufficient to offset it.

Credit Money vs. Commodity Money

If only commodities are used as money, then there will always be a limited supply of money and it must circulate ever faster to mediate a growing number of desired transactions. But credit money is unlimited in supply. It can safely expand in relation to the amount of goods and services that are available to be exchanged. When lines of credit are based on historical and prospective sales, then there need never be any shortage of exchange media (credit).

We need to stop thinking of money as a THING. In a credit clearing exchange, the quantity theory of money does not hold. I show this in Chapter 12 of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, pp. 132-133. As the example illustrates, the amount of outstanding credit (the “money” supply) can even go to zero at times. It matters not, since lines of credit are prearranged and can be drawn upon as needed to make new purchases, thus new credit money is created in the process.

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[i] A self-liquidating loan is a form of short- or intermediate-term credit that is repaid with money generated by the assets it is used to purchase. The repayment schedule and maturity of a self-liquidating loan are timed to coincide with when the assets are expected to produce income. These loans are intended to finance purchases that will quickly and reliably generate cash. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/self-liquidating-loan.asp.

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This monograph can be found on this site here.
The PDF file can be downloaded here.
The PDF file en Espanol can be downloaded here.