Tag Archives: quantitative easing

Central Bank Interventions and the Looming Catastrophe

In this recent interview below, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts describes the “house of cards” that is today’s global regime of money, banking and finance. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the major central banks around the world—the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan—have all been active in the securities markets, buying huge amounts of government and corporate bonds and shares of private companies, a process that is euphemistically called “quantitative easing.”

As Roberts points out, these actions are being taken to support the big banks. I agree, but it goes much deeper than that. The underlying objective is to preserve the global interest-based debt-money system which requires continual expansion if debt, an inherent systemic flaw which I call the “debt growth imperative.” The result of these market manipulations, of course, has been the inflation of market bubbles in bonds, stocks, and real estate, and the massive transfer of wealth into the hands of a small segment of the population.

Roberts does not mention it, but the recurrent waves of tax cuts for the rich likewise seem to be designed to keep these market bubbles pumped up. The wealthy class, for the most part, does not spend these windfall gains, they invest them in, you guessed it, bonds, stocks and real estate. If tax cuts were to go mainly to the lower and middle classes, what would they do with the money? They would surely spend much of it, which would stimulate consumption of consumer goods and restore the real economy, but much of it would go toward reducing the massive amounts of debt that these people carry and make it unnecessary for them to borrow even more. A system that requires perpetual expansion of debt cannot tolerate that.
Now, do you understand?



Bank of Japan announces plan for massive inflation of the Yen, as US Fed curtails dollar monetization (QE). What does it mean for you?

A recent article in the Guardian (UK) reports that the Japanese central bank has announced plans to “inject ¥80tn (£447bn) a year into the financial system, mainly through the purchase of government bonds, in a bid to ward off the threat of deflation.”

Thus, Japan takes over much of the burden of keeping a flawed global money system alive, as the US central bank (the Federal Reserve) ends its own program of dollar inflation.

Bloomberg provides a “quick take” on the FED policy saying, “It was the biggest emergency economic stimulus in history and now it’s over. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s once-in-a-lifetime program to buy immense piles of bonds, month after month, in an extraordinary effort to restart a recession-deadened economy came to an end in October after adding more than $3.5 trillion to the Fed’s balance sheet – an amount roughly equal to the size of the German economy. The bond-buying program, called quantitative easing or QE, had been controversial since its start in 2009, as had the Fed’s decision in 2013 to gradually reduce the monthly economic boost, a plan that became known as the taper. Whether the Fed tapered too soon, given global economic weakness, or too late, given signs of bubbles in some markets, was hotly debated. But even after the taper’s end the Fed continued to pump support into the economy the old-fashioned way, by holding its interest rates near zero.”

As I’ve pointed out before, “Quantitative easing” is simply a euphemism for inflation of the currency (mainly by central banks buying government bonds and other uncollectable debt). Other things being equal, currency inflation eventually leads to price inflation. But other things are not equal. The US has indeed seen significant inflation of prices in some sectors, especially food, but other prices are being kept down, primarily because of layoffs and underemployment, leaving consumers with lower incomes and reduced purchasing power. If income from wages and interest on savings are held down, people must either do without or borrow more money to maintain their levels of spending. The following table from the Federal Reserve shows the growth in consumer credit over the past few years.

Consumer Credit Outstanding ($ Billions)
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
As of 8/31
2,552.8 2,647.4 2,755.9 2,923.6 3,097.9 3,225.3

These figures cover most short- and intermediate-term credit extended to individuals, excluding loans secured by real estate.

Those figures show a more than a 26% increase in consumer credit just over the past four and one half years, much of it high-interest credit card debt. Although credit card debt has declined somewhat from its 2009 peak, according to nerdwallet.com, falling indebtedness is largely due to defaults rather than repayment.

The same site reports that, in total, American consumers owe:

  • $11.63 trillion in debt, an increase of 3.8% from last year
  • $880.5 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.07 trillion in mortgages
  • $1,120.3 billion in student loans, an increase of 11.5% from last year

Central banks find currency inflation necessary in order to offset the reductions in the money supply caused by charging interest on money that banks create when they make “loans.” There is never enough money in circulation to enable repayment of the aggregate of principal plus accrued interest of money created as bank “loans.” Thus the “natural” tendency of the usury-based debt-money system is toward deflation. Central governments then must become the borrowers of last resort and central banks become the lenders of last resort as bankers and politicians continue their absurd dance that is a death spiral of recurrent and ever more extreme financial crises.

The real solution to our monetary, financial, and economic problems is to end the usury-based debt-money system. But the bankers, the rulers of the world, will not stand for that. By control of the money creation process, they have extended their power to tightly control the political process, as well. Thus, the wealth and purchasing power of the vast majority of people will continue to decline as the system continues to pump up the wealth and power of the few who control the money system, and their minions.

According to the Fed, between 2010 and 2013, “mean (overall average) family income rose 4 percent in real terms, but median income fell 5 percent, consistent with increasing income concentration during this period.” And “Families at the bottom of the income distribution saw continued substantial declines in average real incomes between 2010 and 2013, continuing the trend observed between the 2007 and 2010 surveys.”

So, what can people and communities do to counter these trends and regain control of their economic fortunes and enhance their political power?

Considering the dynamics of power that prevail in the so-called democratic countries today, reliance on the political process to effect systemic reforms seems futile. So, while it is necessary to continue to protest the status quo and reframe the political dialog, it is even more important to take action to rebuild society from the bottom upward. We must reduce our dependence upon the very systems that are being used to disempower us, of which the political money system is foremost.

That is not so daunting as it might first appear, and conceptually it is not very complicated. It is what my work of the past quarter century as been all about. The biggest difficulties have had to do with dispelling erroneous myths about money and banking and helping people to see beyond the orthodox. This, and the lack of adequate tools have retarded the process of taking promising alternatives to scale, but that is quickly changing as new technologies that enable moneyless trading become available.

But don’t sit idly by waiting for things to happen “out there.” Start with your own personal development and empowerment, while working to strengthen your various communities and networks, your city, state, and region. Some tips to get you started can be found here. –t.h.g.

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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.

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.

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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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


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.


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.


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 (https://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/20/qe-ad-infinatum/, and https://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/21/et-tu-ecb-inflating-the-euro/).


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 here.

Hoping to see some of you along the way,


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.