Tag Archives: credit

Private Currency Vouchers: an Answer to the Money Problem

Unlike, government and central bank fiat currencies which promise nothing but their acceptance as tax payments, private currency vouchers promise to be redeemed for real valuable goods and services. If the issuer is trustworthy and can be counted on to honor their pledge of redemption, their currency vouchers can provide traders with an exchange and payment medium that is superior to government and central bank fiat monies. Such honest currencies are neither novel nor odd, but have a long history and are an absolute necessity for the decentralization of economic and political power and the emergence of a peaceful and equitable social order.  

So what sorts of entities can be trusted to keep their promises, how do they put their currencies into circulation, are such currencies legal, have such currencies ever been issued before? In brief, a currency voucher is spent into circulation when the issuer offers it as payment to a supplier, employee or a creditor, who accepts it as such. In the United States and most other “free” countries, private currency vouchers are entirely legal and there are numerous historical instances of their issuance and circulation. These questions and many other details have been fully answered over the years in my various writings and presentations, most of which have been posted or linked on my website, https://beyondmoney.net/.  Particularly relevant are my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, as well as my 2021 presentation, Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it, and my 2021 webinar series, Our Money System – What’s Wrong with it and How to Fix it.

A few years ago I wrote up a proposal for a private currency voucher that I call the Solar Dollar which attracted some significant interest. My intention was twofold, one, to provide an independent payment medium for a local community, i.e., a currency that can be created outside of the banking system and thus empower participants in a local economy by compensating for shortages and mal-distribution of government fiat money, and two, to incentivize the shift of energy production, sales and usage toward solar and other renewable sources of electric power. My hope was that some electric utility company somewhere would implement the plan and become a model for others utilities to follow. That, unfortunately, has not yet happened but I am confident that it, or something like it, eventually will. In the meantime, I’ve continued to publicize it, and in 2021 I was invited to give a presentation titled, Solar Dollars–Empowering Communities While Powering Communities With Renewable Energy, for a virtual conference that was sponsored by the Zero Carbon Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (UK). Later that year, under the good auspices of Professor Ljubomir Jankovic, my original white paper was revised and published with the title, Solar Dollars: A Complementary Currency that Incentivizes Renewable Energy, in the academic journal, Frontiers in Built Environment.

Overall, the primary objective of my work has been, and remains, the decentralization of financial, economic, and political power. The most promising strategy for achieving that is the design and deployment of private credit currencies that are spent into circulation by trusted issuers that are ready, willing, and able to redeem their currencies promptly for the real goods and services that are their normal stock in trade. By breaking the credit monopoly that the banking cartel presently holds, and empowering producers and sellers of real value, it then becomes possible to reverse the longstanding trend toward ever greater power and wealth in the hands of the global elite who have captured the machinery of finance, economics, and government.

The Solar Dollar is a special case and example of a private credit currency issued by a trusted producer and provider of real value, but similar objectives could be achieved by companies in other lines of business, for example, by:

  • The issuance of local Farm Produce Dollars that would be spent into circulation by a single local farmer or jointly by a cooperating group of local farmers and ranchers, or by
  • The issuance of local Shelter Certificates that are spent into circulation by a single local owner of rental property or jointly by a cooperating group of local owners of rental property, or by
  • The issuance of Service Certificates by a local provider of some sort of professional or household services, or jointly by a cooperating group of such service providers, or by
  • The issuance of currency vouchers by all of the above producers/providers and others  who band together to cooperatively issue a sound complementary currency under a common “brand.” Such a currency would provide a means of payment that is not only independent of the banking system but solidly backed by the combined production and distribution capacity of all participating businesses. (Many “community currencies” have been created over the years in many places around the world but virtually all of them are  “sold” for government fiat currencies which defeats the main objective of creating a currency that is independent of government and the banking system).

All of these currency vouchers or credits are able to circulate as payment media throughout their local communities to enable trading despite any scarcity or unavailability of official money. There are many historical and contemporary examples of such private credit instruments, so most of what I’m suggesting has already been shown to be workable. The main problem I have observed is getting producers of real value to recognize the power they already have and to exercise it on their own behalf and that of their communities.

In his 1944 book, Private Enterprise Money, E. C. Riegel made that point very clear, saying:

The stream of political monies from the beginning to the present day runs deep and dirty, yet to suggest that money can spring from any other source is to surprise if not even to dismay. So has tradition dulled men’s senses. No matter how often the state fails to supply a virtuous money system, men rush back to it in desperation and beg it to try again. Indeed, until we learn that the money power resides in us, we must abjectly beg the state to give us an exploitative system because we cannot return to a moneyless civilization. Yet, no matter how often and earnestly the state tries to provide a true money system, it must fail because of an inherent antipathy between the money issuing power and the taxing power. A money issuer must be a seller who bids for money, not a taxer who requisitions it in whole or in part, as politically expedient and without a quid pro quid.” — pp. 25-26.

Political democracy cannot work without economic democracy; and the money power is the franchise of the latter. — p. 35

It is the false concept of political money power that converts citizens into petitioners, and makes government a dispenser of patronage instead of a public servant. This power of patronage utterly destroys the democratic system of government – since the people cannot be both petitioners and rulers.” — pp. 78-79

Throughout my career as a monetary theorist, educator, and advisor, taking up where Riegel and others have left off, I have tried to influence producers, entrepreneurs, and social organizers toward effective action based on sound principles of credit allocation and management. But superstitious myths die hard and old habits are difficult to break. The great majority of people remain in thrall to official currencies. That is what the oligarchs depend upon to keep us in debt and under their control. I have learned to be patient and await the changes in financial, economic, and political conditions that will open people’s minds to adopting self-help and cooperative approaches to getting our needs met, specifically, the need for free and fair exchange of value in the marketplace.

Surely, the day will come, and is rapidly approaching, when the failures and demands of the dominant global central banking, political, interest-based, debt-money regime will become so clearly evident and abysmal that the only peaceful option will be for we-the-people to implement our own systems of exchange and finance grounded in our own initiative and judgment in allocating credit based on productive capacity and trustworthiness.

Diagram of the reciprocity circuit.
Issuance, circulation and redemption of Private Currency Vouchers
Issuance, circulation and redemption of Private Currency Vouchers

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One of my most popular posts–There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit

One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit, in which I’ve tried to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water in this little fable to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves by thinking outside the box to overcome our fixation on the sort of money that has been provided for us and over which we have lost all control.

Every metaphor of course is limited and what I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand is that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political money. It is credit that is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest.  

You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio).
Or listen here.

You are welcome to post comments.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch: Principles of Credit, Exchange, and Finance

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” That’s a well-known adage that goes back a long time, but it was popularized by famed economist Milton Friedman and expressed in his 1975 book titled, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

But the abuses of political money by national governments, central banks and the banking establishment and the consequent separation between the financial economy and the real economy have made it appear that there may be a free lunch after all. But we must not allow ourselves to be misled. It may not be immediately apparent but there is always a price to be paid when fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange are violated.

There have been many in the alternative currency and exchange movement who seem to think that this principle does not apply to their proposed schemes and the landscape is strewn with the wreckage of their folly, but the lessons from that experience are yet to be learned. Political currencies have the power of governments and huge financial institutions behind them and are able, through legal tender laws and taxation, to compel the circulation of their currencies and hide the ill effects of their malfeasance. Private and community currencies however must stand on their own merits without the crutch of legal compulsion and must therefore demonstrated their superiority in enabling the reciprocal exchange of goods and services in the marketplace.

Any would-be innovators in this realm must therefore understand the fundamental principles of currency, credit, investment, saving, and the exchange of value. That is a rather vast territory that I have been writing and lecturing about for a very long time. In this post I wish only to state explicitly the fundamental principles that must underlie the design and implementation of any private, community or complementary currency.

Principle #1, the essence of a currency: A currency is a short-term credit instrument of the issuer.
Currency is created when a provider of real value accepts it in payment from issuer, and it is redeemed and destroyed when the issuer accepts it back in payment for the goods or services that they provide. It may change hands many times between issuance and redemption.  

Principle #2, Currency circulation: The circulation of a currency is driven by the issuer’s obligation to accept it back.

Corollary #1.a.: To be sound, credible and effective, a currency must be spent into circulation by one or more trusted issuers who are ready, willing and able to deliver valued goods or services that are in regular demand, and to accept the currency back as payment.

Corollary #1.b.: A currency that is issued in such a way monetizes the value that is inherent in the goods and services that the issuer is ready, willing and able to sell immediately or in the very near future. In other words, it takes the value that is inherent in those real goods and services and converts it into a form (currency) that can be used to make payments.

Definition: Liquidity is the ability to pay, i.e., to meet immediate and short-term obligations.

It has long been recognized that the issuance of private, non-governmental currencies is not only possible and desirable, but also necessary if true freedom and government “by the people and for the people” is to be achieved. It is entirely feasible that any community can create its own liquidity (means of payment) by monetizing (in the form of its own currency) the value inherent in the goods and services produced within that community.

This is not a new idea. Arthur Kitson made the same point 125 years ago:

To the average man, a currency that has not the authority or stamp of government is inconceivable; and yet there is no good reason why communities should not create and control their own currency without the aid or intervention of governments, just as they incur debts or liabilities without such aid or intervention. —Arthur Kitson, A Scientific Solution of the Money Question (1895), p. 279.

Addendum 1: This may help to further clarify the matter:

Credit is given and received in each transaction as follows: a seller gives credit to a buyer when he delivers real value in exchange for the buyer’s promise (his/her currency or i.o.u.) to reciprocate at some time later. The buyer reciprocates when he/she later becomes a seller and accepts his/her previously issued currency as payment.
ReciprocityCircuit

Addendum 2: One of my correspondents on LinkedIn replied to my post saying this:

During high interest phases, credit clearing so clearly offers many benefits. In the current low or no interest phase these seem to be less obvious. Unless the community currency can avoid inflation maybe? But in a way inflation helps productive businesses to repay their debt. So where do you see the biggest benefit now?

That comment highlights some common misconceptions which I answer as follows:

Interest savings are a minor benefit of direct credit clearing. The BIG benefit is that it makes buyers and sellers independent of money and banks. This is especially important when money is made scarce, as it usually is for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who are often not able to get credit from banks, and when they do it is on onerous terms: high rates of interest, burdensome repayment schedules, pledge of collateral, and the inclination of banks to foreclose and force liquidation of assets rather than help a business through a difficult period. Credit clearing provides a friendly independent source of liquidity that is limited only by the value produced by businesses that are part of the credit clearing circle.

Regarding inflation, it is never a good thing for SMEs or for most consumers. Inflation “helps productive businesses to repay their debt” only if the business has sufficient market power to raise prices of the things it sells and/or to keep the cost of inputs like labor and materials low. That may be true of big corporations that dominate those markets, but not for SMEs who get caught in the squeeze and are unable to raise their prices enough to keep up with inflation or to prevent their costs from rising.

The corporatocracy would like us to believe that the effects of inflation are the same for everyone but they are not.

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Thomas Greco’s Latest Interview–March 3, 2017

Here is my latest interview on Primo Nutmeg. Discussion topics include alternative currencies, credit, central banks, the Federal Reserve, Austrian economics, the gold standard, bitcoin, geopolitics, and the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the global system of money and finance.

Money & Debt: John Green’s Crash Course

In this engaging fast-paced video, John Green explores important questions like: What is money? What is it for? How and why did it evolve? What is the relationship between money, nation states and slavery? And perhaps, most importantly, where do trust and credit enter the picture, and what role do they play in today’s world?

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…

Competing currencies essential to freedom

This appeal by Congressman Ron Paul is perhaps the most important proposal by an American politician in the last 100 years.
I’m glad to know that Congressman Paul is not limiting his proposal to gold and silver currencies.

The most liberating means of payment is “mutual credit clearing” through independent non-bank associations of businesses and individuals.

Of course, the credit in such accounts needs to be denominated in some objective units, which could be specified weights of gold or silver, but better still, would be an “index unit” based on a “market basket” of basic commodities that are widely and freely traded.

My four books on the subject, and my websites, provide coverage of pertinent concepts and history, and full details on my prescriptions for businesses, communities, and governments.–t.h.g. 

Legalize Competing Currencies

I recently held a hearing in my congressional subcommittee on the subject of competing currencies.  This is an issue of enormous importance, but unfortunately few Americans understand how the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department impose a strict monopoly on money in America.

This monopoly is maintained using federal counterfeiting laws, which is a bit rich.  If any organization is guilty of counterfeiting dollars, it is our own Treasury.  But those who dare to challenge federal legal tender laws by circulating competing currencies– at least physical currencies– risk going to prison.

Like all government created monopolies, the federal monopoly on money results in substandard product in the form of our ever-depreciating dollars.

Yet governments have always sought to monopolize the issuance of money, either directly or through the creation of central banks. The expanding role of the Federal Reserve in the 20th century enabled our federal government to grow wildly larger than would have been possible otherwise.  Our Fed, like all central banks, encourages deficits by effectively monetizing Treasury debt.  But the price we pay is the terrible and ongoing debasement of our money.

Allowing individuals and business to use alternate currencies, especially currencies backed by gold and silver, would expose the whole rotten system because the marketplace would prefer such alternate currencies unless and until the Fed suddenly imposed radical discipline on its dollar inflation.

Sadly, Americans are far less free than many others around the world when it comes to protecting themselves against the rapidly depreciating US dollar.  Mexican workers can set up accounts denominated in ounces of silver and take tax-free delivery of that silver whenever they want.  In Singapore and other Asian countries, individuals can set up bank accounts denominated in gold and silver.  Debit cards can be linked to gold and silver accounts so that customers can use gold and silver to make point of sale transactions, a service which is only available to non-Americans.

The obvious solution is to legalize monetary freedom and allow the circulation of parallel and competing currencies.  There is no reason why Americans should not be able to transact, save, and invest using the currency of their choosing.  They should be free to use gold, silver, or other currencies with no legal restrictions or punitive taxation standing in the way.  Restoring the monetary system envisioned by the Constitution is the only way to ensure the economic security of the American people.

After all, if our monetary system is fundamentally sound– and the Federal Reserve indeed stabilizes the dollar as its apologists claim–then why fear competition?  Why do we accept that centralized, monopoly control over our money is compatible with a supposedly free-market economy?  In a free market, the government’s fiat dollar should compete with alternate currencies for the benefit of American consumers, savers, and investors.

As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained, sound money is an instrument that protects our civil liberties against despotic government. Our current monetary system is indeed despotic, and the surest way to correct things simply is to legalize competing currencies.

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Interest and the Role of Trade Exchanges

As cashless exchange becomes an ever more significant portion of total transactions in the economy, the regulatory issue will become a greater concern. It is important that trade exchanges NOT be perceived as issuers of credit, so as to avoid running afoul of banking regulations and possible tax liabilities. Everything that trade exchanges do needs to support the position that the role they play is that of “third-party record-keepers” and that it is the members themselves who provide credit to one another.

Paul Suplizio, former Executive Director of the International reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), has expressed it this way:

“This means members with positive balances are the issuers of credit and the exchange has only administrative powers, delegated by the members, to regulate credit extension.”

It can be argued that the credit clearing process is simply one of generalizing (collectivizing) the longstanding practice of businesses transacting trades with one another on “open-account,” i.e., selling to one another on credit and allowing some period of time in which to pay.

It has properly been a cornerstone of the trade exchange business that there is no interest charged on negative account balances and no interest paid on positive balances. Therefore it cannot be argued that trade exchanges are acting as banks or lenders of money.