Tag Archives: usury

June 2022 Newsletter–Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy

I’m a little late in posting this here, but if you didn’t see it when I first sent it out, I think you will find it interesting and useful.

2022 June Newsletter ― Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy

In this issue:

Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy
The Banker’s Last Gasp and the Great Monetary Reset
The Usury Conjecture on the centralized, interest-based, debt-money system
What about China?
Is this a clear picture of the New World Order?
Take responsibility
Food security
Friendly, kind, and generous

If you want keep tabs on what I’m been thinking, feeling, and doing, you can follow me on twitter (tomazgreco), or Facebook (thomas.h.greco), or follow my blog at https://beyondmoney.net/. _____________

Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy

Money is the “hole” that is defined by the “doughnut” of real goods and services; it is the nothing that serves only to account for that which is available in the real economy. When pseudo-money can be created by fiat, apart from anything of real value, confusion and madness ensue. — T. H. Greco, Jr.

I’ve been arguing for more than 40 years that the global system of money, banking, and finance is fatally flawed, and now its condition has become acute. Since 2008 it has been on life support. The connections between the monetary economy and the real economy have long been tenuous, but in recent years have been severed to the point of non-existence. When banks and governments can create quasi-money out of nothing without any real value basis and allocate it selectively to advance political agendas, you know the end is near. The last vestiges of budgetary restraint on federal government spending have been eliminated along with any concern about what people really need and want. The results have been the ever-increasing centralization of power at the federal level, central planning of the economy, worsening price inflation, declining purchasing power of fiat money, increasing corporate ownership of real assets, especially residential real estate, zero or negative returns on people’s savings, and increasing disparities of income and wealth. The only way this system can be perpetuated is by the complete elimination of any semblance of democratic government. As E. C. Riegel observed almost 80 years ago:
“Society is in the twilight of a passing day. The state now undertakes to finance the
economy, and, since a free economy is manifestly impossible where the state assumes the responsibility of supplying the money circulation, the politician is compelled to choose between fascism and communism.”
Private Enterprise Money

— Read the entire newsletter <here>.

Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy

This article was excerpted from my June, 2022 Newsletter which you can view in its entirety at my Mailchimp site. You can also sign up there to receive future newsletter editions.


Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real Economy
Money is the “hole” that is defined by the “doughnut” of real goods and services; it is the nothing that serves only to account for that which is available in the real economy. When pseudo-money can be created by fiat, apart from anything of real value, confusion and madness ensue. — T. H. Greco, Jr.
 
I’ve been arguing for more than 40 years that the global system of money, banking, and finance is fatally flawed, and now its condition has become acute. Since 2008 it has been on life support. The connections between the monetary economy and the real economy have long been tenuous, but in recent years have been severed to the point of non-existence. When banks and governments can create quasi-money out of nothing without any real value basis and allocate it selectively to advance political agendas, you know the end is near. The last vestiges of budgetary restraint on federal government spending have been eliminated along with any concern about what people really need and want. The results have been the ever-increasing centralization of power at the federal level, central planning of the economy, worsening price inflation, declining purchasing power of fiat money, increasing corporate ownership of real assets, especially residential real estate, zero or negative returns on people’s savings, and increasing disparities of income and wealth. The only way this system can be perpetuated is by the complete elimination of any semblance of democratic government. As E. C. Riegel observed almost 80 years ago:
“Society is in the twilight of a passing day. The state now undertakes to finance the
economy, and, since a free economy is manifestly impossible where the state assumes the responsibility of supplying the money circulation, the politician is compelled to choose between fascism and communism.”
Private Enterprise Money
 
“Quantitative easing,” bank bailouts, and central bank purchases of securities from the debt and equity markets have been desperate, last gasp measures to try to save the dysfunctional and destructive system. At first the inflation was confined mainly to financial assets, particularly corporate stocks, as central banks intervened in the markets on the buying side. Then, with the massive bailouts and handouts that were doled out during 2020 and 2021, and the accompany lockdowns and forced closures of small businesses, price inflation shifted over to real estate prices, residential rents, commodities, and consumer goods and services. The system is doomed and must eventually give way to new, more sustainable and equitable systems of exchange and finance. Though barely noticeable, that process has been underway for some time at the micro level of communities and small businesses, but changing circumstances are now stimulating major changes at the macro level of national governments and global trade.
   
The connection between the real economy and the money economy must be inherent in any sustainable system of money and finance. The creation of sound exchange media (money) requires that money be spent into circulation by trusted producers of real valuable goods and services that are in the market and available to be delivered in the near-term. Money then is a mere place holder for real economic value; it is a credible promise that will be accepted as a form of payment.

            The Banker’s Last Gasp and the Great Monetary Reset
 
While the past several decades have seen the emergence of many successful approaches to decentralizing the control of credit through private currencies and independent commercial credit clearing circles, economic and financial corporatization and globalization have proceeded to place ever tighter control into the hands of an elite class who have used their money power as a weapon of war. The Breton Woods monetary agreement established toward the end of World War II made the US dollar the world’s reserve currency and allowed the US and its western European allies to dominate and control the machinery of money and finance. But with the breakdown of that agreement and the increasing application of financial and economic sanctions we now see that some countries, notably China and Russia, are taking independent action to protect their own economies and security interests.
 
These countries are moving to back their currencies with real commodities as Alasdair Macleod describes in his recent article The Commodity Currency Revolution, and in this YouTube interview Commodity-Backed Currencies to Challenge Dollar Yen & Euro?. This phenomenal shift is further elucidated in various other sources, including David Stockman’s Monetary Madness Among the Central Bankers, and Alastair Crooke’s post about the decline of the western financial system and the US dollar as the world reserve currency. The latter makes the point that “… the financial war on Russia gave the West an unmistakable lesson from Moscow that the hardest currencies are not USD or EUR, but rather oil, gas, wheat, and gold. Yes, energy, food and strategic resources are currencies [in the real economy].”

Another sobering thesis is being articulated by Dr. Tim Morgan at his website Surplus Energy Economics, in which he argues that, “the economy is an energy system, not a financial one,” and that “The concept of limits is replacing the paradigm of ‘infinite growth,’” and “What lies ahead is a process of adjustment – we might call it realignment – to the new reality of an economy in which the scope for expansion is constrained by limits, both to energy value and to environmental tolerance.” Morgan’s economic model, which he calls SEEDS [Surplus Energy Economics Data System], is based on the idea that continual economic growth has been possible only through the availability of the surplus energy that comes from fossil fuels. But that surplus (energy out minus energy in) is continuing to decline. For the moment, I will leave it to the reader to ponder what the implications of that might be.

This shift toward commodity backed national currencies, while not a total solution to the money problem, is a positive step toward reconnecting the means of payment to real economic value. I expect that it will eventually lead to the emergence of a new standard of value against which the value of currencies can be objectively measured. That standard will not be gold, as it was in the past, but a wide assortment, or “market basket,” of useful commodities like the one I’ve been proposing for the past 40+ years. History shows that, as exchange systems evolve, credit instruments become the primary payment media because their quantity is able to expand and contract in step with actual supplies of goods and services. Then, the commodities serve only as the measure of value and unit of account to quantify credit. Just as happened in the past with gold, I expect the commodities in a standard “basket” will serve as a new measure of value, but payments will be made using credit instruments and the credit clearing process, with perhaps, occasional settlement of residual account balances by the transfer of actual commodities. As I’ve repeatedly explained elsewhere, it is crucial that these credit instruments (currencies) be spent into circulation interest-free and on the basis of an adequate real value foundation.
 
            The Usury Conjecture on the centralized, interest-based, debt-money system
 
In this article (available on my website or on Medium), I describe the growth imperative that is the fatal flaw inherent in the global central banking, interest-based, debt-money system; I summarize the observations that have led me to conclude that it is utterly destructive and must ultimately be replaced; and I call upon systems analysts to create realistic models of the system to prove the conjecture beyond any reasonable doubt.

This is the Usury Conjecture in a nutshell:
The central banking, interest-based, debt money system that is dominant around the world today is neither stable, nor sustainable, nor fair. The creation of money based on bank lending with interest creates an imperative for debt to grow exponentially with the passage of time. That debt-growth imperative drives artificial economic growth as borrowers compete with one another to acquire enough money from the always insufficient pool of money to service their “loans.”  
 
When I first began my intensive inquiry into money, banking, and finance more than 40 years ago, it did not take long for me to discover the essential nature of money, where it comes from and how it is created, allocated, circulated, mismanaged and abused. I was astonished that this system had been allowed to become such a dominant force that has wreaked enormous devastation upon the world over such a long period of time despite many attempts to reform it. One champion of monetary reform was Congressman Wright Patman who, as chairman of the  Committee on Banking and Currency of the US House of Representatives during the 1960s, sought to educate the public about the money and banking system through the publication of the committee report titled, A Primer on Money, and a shorter extract titled, MONEY FACTS – 169 Questions and Answers on Money. These reports were produced and distributed through the Government Printing Office and were important in my early research. You won’t find any mention of them on Wikipedia, but if you want to cut through the fog of obfuscation and learn how the system really works they can be accessed through my website.

Addendum of Tuesday, June 28, 2022:

One of my correspondents recently asked if the interest that banks charge when they create money by making loans causes inflation. Perhaps this response will help to clarify the picture of our current monetary and economic predicament, and add some precision to my usury conjecture.

First of all let me make clear that, while the money needed to pay the interest on a particular loan is not created when the loan is made, the banks must create sufficient money (by making additional loans) to enable the aggregate money supply to stay ahead of loan principal repayments, otherwise the money supply will contract and cause economic depression (defaults, business failures, unemployment, etc.). Thus, the creation of money by banks on the basis of interest-bearing loans biases the entire system towards deflation (too little money), as I described in my Usury Conjecture document, https://beyondmoney.net/2022/06/03/the-usury-conjecture-on-the-centralized-interest-based-debt-money-system/.

To compensate for that, banks push hard to induce private borrowers (corporations and individuals) to take on additional debt. But there is a limit to their willingness to borrow more and to their ability to repay, therefore the national government steps in to play the role of “borrower of last resort.” From the banks’ perspective that is ideal because when a bank lends to the government (by buying government bonds, notes, or bills) it gets a guaranteed return and takes no risk of default. Politicians are all too willing to go into debt to dole out money to their corporate patrons (especially weapons and drugs makers) who fund their election campaigns, and to curry favor with the voters by throwing a few crumbs their way. The government therefore goes way beyond borrowing the amount needed to keep the money supply sufficiently pumped up to avoid deflation, and thus creates inflation by funding many things that are pure waste from a consumption and environmental standpoint. So, does interest on bank loans cause inflation? No, not directly, but indirectly as I’ve just explained.

As economist Milton Friedman has famously said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,” and on that point, I agree with him. It’s not just the amount of money that causes inflation; it’s the basis upon which the money is issued. Price inflation is mainly caused by money debasement, which is the creation of money on an improper basis. An improper basis is any loan that is not made to enable the sale of goods and services that are readily available in the market in the near term. Thus, improper money creation is based on loans that are made to finance speculation, or to finance long term capital improvements that create consumer goods only in the far distant future, or to purchase debt instruments of the government. None of those put additional goods or services into the market for purchase in the near term; therefore you have “more money chasing the same amount of goods and services,” or money being put into circulation faster than goods and services are being produced.

It is possible for some price inflation to be caused by reductions in supplies, but that is usually limited to particular products. However, in today’s global economy there are various factors that are affecting supplies more generally, so that has become a contributing cause of the inflation that is being experienced at this time.

#     #     #

The Usury Conjecture on the centralized, interest-based, debt-money system

The Usury Conjecture on the centralized, interest-based, debt-money system
Revised June 2, 2022
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

The Usury Conjecture in a nutshell
The central banking, interest-based, debt money system that is dominant around the world today is neither stable, nor sustainable, nor fair. The creation of money based on bank lending with interest creates an imperative for debt to grow exponentially with the passage of time. That debt-growth imperative drives artificial economic growth as borrowers compete with one another to acquire enough money from the always insufficient pool of money to service their “loans.”

When I first began my intensive inquiry into money, banking, and finance more than 40 years ago, it did not take long for me to discover the essential nature of money, where it comes from and how it is created, allocated, circulated, mismanaged and abused. I was astonished that this system has been allowed to become such a dominant force in the world, that it has wreaked such enormous devastation upon the world, and that it has been allowed to go on for such a long period of time. What has led me to those conclusions has been thoroughly documented in my many books, articles, and web posts.

I have long wondered why there seem to have been no serious attempts to model the monetary system that predominates today throughout the world. Then, in November 2011, I again met up with a well known economist at a conference in Michigan where we were both presenters. In his presentation he reported having conducted such a simulation in which the results showed an equilibrium state being reached. I was dubious about his conclusions but in the context of the conference there was not sufficient opportunity to raise pertinent questions or to discuss them in any depth. I later wrote to him with my questions and asked him to respond to my assertion that some of his underlying assumptions about the system that he used in his simulation might not have been realistic. That was the beginning of my attempts to more fully articulate my “usury conjecture” which over the subsequent years has gone through several revisions. I think my arguments are sufficiently well developed at this point to be useful to others in understanding the system and in designing realistic simulations and mathematical models that are able to reveal its inherent flaws. 

In my critique, I did not say that his model was “wrong,” only that some of the underlying assumptions were unrealistic and his model too limited to adequately describe the system as it presently exists. Here are the points that need to be considered:

Free banking. He stated at the beginning of his presentation that his model was a simulation of the monetary system as it existed during the “free banking” era in the United States around the mid-eighteen hundreds. But we no longer live in that world, money and banking have undergone a great many changes since that time and the free banking model does not describe today’s reality. Among the very significant changes have been:

  1. The centralization of credit allocation power in the hands of a few huge banking companies. During the free banking era, that power was greatly decentralized, there was much more competition among banks and their asset portfolios consisted mainly of loans to businesses in the bank’s own geographic region, and much less in US government bonds or loans to massive diversified corporations which did not exist at that time.
  2. The imposition of forced circulation (by means of legal tender laws) of a unitary national currency under the Federal Reserve System that ultimately decoupled the currency from any objective measure of value (like a fixed weight of gold or silver). During the “free banking” era, each bank issued its own “brand” of bank note denominated in dollars.
  3. The gradual elimination of the redeemability of currency for specie (gold or silver) obliterated the objective measure of value, disconnected the money economy from the real economy, and opened the door for extreme monopolization of credit and the abusive inflation of the currency.

What happens to a bank’s interest income? As I understood his presentation, he made the assumption that the banks spend all of their interest income back into the economy, but that is clearly not the case. While a portion of a bank’s revenues are used to pay employees, and cover other expenses like equipment and facilities, it seems that most of the bank’s interest income is added to capital or re-enters the economy, not as consumption spending but in the form of additional loans or as reserves deposited with the central bank that enable further loans to be made, or as payouts to bank owners who, rather than spending it on consumption, use it themselves to lend it out, adding a secondary layer of debt and interest to the economy which creates a further shortage of money available for debt repayment. All of that requires a further expansion of lending (debt) by the banks to keep the money supply expanding enough to prevent too many defaults and subsequent bankruptcies, unemployment and economic depression.

Savings and investment. What does the bank do with peoples’ savings? In his reported simulation he did not describe the accounting entries that accompany the deposit of peoples’ savings, but savings and investment are two sides of the same coin. A bank, in its role as depository (as opposed to its primary role as “bank of issue”), reallocates surplus money (savings) from those who wish to save to those who need to use it now for capital formation (expansion of production capacity), or to spend on consumer goods when there are lulls in their income streams (consumer finance). The interest banks charge on these loans far exceeds the cost of providing the service and the interest they pay to savers, which creates further imbalances in income and wealth distributions.

Debt repayment. Repayment of principal on loans naturally results in the extinction of that amount of money. As old loans are repaid, new loans must be made to keep the money supply from shrinking which would cause additional defaults and economic stagnation or depression. New loans may or may not be sufficient to compensate and maintain the money supply. There must be both banks that are willing to lend and companies and people that are willing and able to borrower, but when the private sector had taken on as much debt as it can bear, government becomes the “borrower of last resort” in order to maintain or increase the money supply.

The role of a central bank. The central banks in countries around the world may or may not be a nominal part of the government. In the US, the Federal Reserve is an independent entity owned by banking corporations that pursue their own interests. There developed long ago, with the founding of the Bank of England, a collusive arrangement between banking and government. On the government side, the agreement enables perpetual deficit spending; on the banking side, the agreement enables the emergence of a banking cartel that enjoys the privilege of lending the peoples’ own credit back to them and charging interest for it. The advertised role of a central bank is to limit inflation and promote full employment. In actuality, the role of a central bank is to enable inflation sufficient to support government budget deficits while protecting and preserving the bankers’ privilege to milk the productive economy and enlarge their own wealth and political power.

Basis of issue. Besides the need to be free of interest, money needs to be issued on a proper value basis. There have been volumes written about this point, but sound principles of commercial banking have been discarded over the years because the perpetuation of the flawed system requires it, and because those who control the machinery of money use their power to promote their own narrow interests of wealth and power. Thus, some loans that banks make are legitimate while most are not. Banks should create new money to enable the production and sale of goods that are in the market or soon to arrive there. They should not make loans for speculative purposes or to monetize government debts as they commonly do today.[i] Thus, we have a stream of legalized counterfeit that dilutes the purchasing power of all the legitimate money in circulation. This currency inflation leads to price inflation, which amounts to a “hidden tax” that disproportionately harms the middle class who have substantial amounts of savings invested either directly or in pension funds which they do not control, and this “tax” hurts low income people who need to spend the bulk of their income just to survive.  

The economy. Economists and politicians speak about THE economy as if it was a unitary whole, but there are actually many economies depending on geography, social and economic class, and there are the public sector and the private sector. There may be prosperity in some sectors, while others experience recession. Distinction is commonly made between the private and the public sectors, but it is essential to also distinguish between the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs on one hand, and the large corporate megaliths on the other. In recent decades, banks have gotten ever larger and their lending has been directed mainly toward central governments and large corporations, while at the same time the productive small and medium sized enterprises that are the backbone of every local economy have been starved of the credit they need to finance their operations. By acting in this way, banks limit or eliminate the risks they take. In the case of lending to central government (by buying its bonds and notes), banks enjoy a guaranteed return with no risk at all. During the pandemic years the bulk of the government stimulus money went to large corporations while many small independent local enterprises were forced to close and were never able to reopen.  

“Cash” held by the banks. It is misleading to say that banks are sitting on a lot of cash instead of lending it out. In fact that “cash” has been lent out to the public sector (government) in the form of treasury bills, notes, and bonds, or to the central bank which holds it as “reserves” and on which the banks receive interest.

It seems obvious that the present global money system contains inherent in it a debt-growth imperative because of the interest burden that is attached to the bank loans that form the basis for money creation. I believe that any model that purports to simulate the actual present system of money and banking must account for most of the banks’ interest income as capital which is then loaned into circulation rather than spent, and if that were the case it would show that there can be no steady state but an endless growth in debt which leads to a general growth imperative and destruction of the Earth’s ecosystem as the real economy tries to expand in step with the overall debt.

That is in fact what the empirical data suggests. Any theory in opposition to the usury conjecture must provide an alternative explanation of why the total debt in the world continues to grow exponentially at a much faster rate than population or any measure of growth in the real economy as is show in the following charts.

Figure 1 the Institute of International Finance

Finally, the inherent inequity of this money system is obvious and is becoming ever more extreme year by year. The increasing inequalities in income and wealth are not natural phenomena; they are artifacts of the system architecture and management. Mere policy tweaks cannot correct that. The creation of money as interest-bearing debt by a banking cartel pumps virtually all of the benefits of productivity increases into the hands of the top level bankers and their minions whom we naively trust to operate the system in the interests of the common good.

History is replete with stories of collapse of societies resulting from exponential growth of debts and extreme inequalities among the various classes of the population. I have long argued that since money throughout the world today is based on “loans” made by banks at interest, the exponential growth of debt is required to keep the system going. That is clearly evident in the empirical evidence of debt growth over the past 100 years and especially since 1971 when the last link of money to anything real was severed by President Nixon’s announcement that US dollars would no longer be redeemable for gold.

The global economy is a complex adaptive system, but collapse happens when a system fails to adapt in an effective way. Jubilee or periodic resets have been common throughout history going back before Biblical times. Economist Michael Hudson has had much to say about that in his various writings especially in his latest book, …and forgive them their debts. I have been arguing for “debt triage” and a long term shift of finance away from interest-bearing debt financing and toward shared equity financing but because of the concentration of political power in the hands of the vested interests, and the general lack of understanding and concern about the flaws inherent in the present systems, I see little likelihood that these measures will be implemented soon enough to avoid major economic disruptions and social and political turmoil. That leaves innovative private and community initiatives as the most promising approach to avoiding disaster.

I have taken a functional approach to solving the problems that are inherent in the present global system of money, banking and finance and argued that the supposed functions of money–means of exchange, savings medium, and measure of value, are in fact distinct from one another and must be handled separately. The exchange function which is the essential function of money should be mediated by the use of interest-free short-term credit allocated to producers in proportion to the value of goods and services they are ready, willing and able to sell within the next few months. The savings function and the investment function on the other hand are two sides of the same coin and should be provided for by the temporary assignment of savers’ funds to enterprises that will use them to expand production capacity or develop new capacity. The measure of value function needs to be provided by defining a standard of value and unit of account in terms of some selected commodity or group of commodities.

I have described numerous alternative structures and systems to serve the exchange function, including private, local, and community currencies, and decentralized credit clearing networks of buyers and sellers and have cited numerous historical and current examples. I’ve also described financing arrangements that shift the capital formation function from interest-based debt financing to shared-equity financing that shares both the rewards and the risks of business investment. These are the actions that I am confident have the ability to prevent the disastrous collapse of civilization while enabling the necessary transformation to a peaceful, healthy and regenerative society. All of this has been thoroughly articulated in my books, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender (excerpted here), and in my various articles, presentations, and interviews which can be accessed at https://beyondmoney.net/.

Addendum of Tuesday, June 28, 2022:

One of my correspondents recently asked if the interest that banks charge when they create money by making loans causes inflation. Perhaps this response will help to clarify the picture of our current monetary and economic predicament, and add some precision to my usury conjecture.

First of all let me make clear that, while the money needed to pay the interest on a particular loan is not created when the loan is made, the banks must create sufficient money (by making additional loans) to enable the aggregate money supply to stay ahead of loan principal repayments, otherwise the money supply will contract and cause economic depression (defaults, business failures, unemployment, etc.). Thus, the creation of money by banks on the basis of interest-bearing loans biases the entire system towards deflation (too little money), as I described in my Usury Conjecture document, https://beyondmoney.net/2022/06/03/the-usury-conjecture-on-the-centralized-interest-based-debt-money-system/.

To compensate for that, banks push hard to induce private borrowers (corporations and individuals) to take on additional debt. But there is a limit to their willingness to borrow more and to their ability to repay, therefore the national government steps in to play the role of “borrower of last resort.” From the banks’ perspective that is ideal because when a bank lends to the government (by buying government bonds, notes, or bills) it gets a guaranteed return and takes no risk of default. Politicians are all too willing to go into debt to dole out money to their corporate patrons (especially weapons and drugs makers) who fund their election campaigns, and to curry favor with the voters by throwing a few crumbs their way. The government therefore goes way beyond borrowing the amount needed to keep the money supply sufficiently pumped up to avoid deflation, and thus creates inflation by funding many things that are pure waste from a consumption and environmental standpoint. So, does interest on bank loans cause inflation? No, not directly, but indirectly as I’ve just explained.

As economist Milton Friedman has famously said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,” and on that point, I agree with him. It’s not just the amount of money that causes inflation; it’s the basis upon which the money is issued. Price inflation is mainly caused by money debasement, which is the creation of money on an improper basis. An improper basis is any loan that is not made to enable the sale of goods and services that are readily available in the market in the near term. Thus, improper money creation is based on loans that are made to finance speculation, or to finance long term capital improvements that create consumer goods only in the far distant future, or to purchase debt instruments of the government. None of those put additional goods or services into the market for purchase in the near term; therefore you have “more money chasing the same amount of goods and services,” or money being put into circulation faster than goods and services are being produced.

It is possible for some price inflation to be caused by reductions in supplies, but that is usually limited to particular products. However, in today’s global economy there are various factors that are affecting supplies more generally, so that has become a contributing cause of the inflation that is being experienced at this time.

#     #     #


 

My reply to, Prof. Richard Werner on “the central banking system and how to start regional alternatives.”

Earlier this month Prof. Richard Werner posted a video on YouTube, which I thought was quite good in explaining the way banks create money, but I felt moved to post a response to it that provides some fundamental concepts and clarifies what is required to start regional alternatives  to dominant centralized banking system and political fiat monies. I recommend that you watch Werner’s 10 minute video, and then contemplate my responses.

______________

Thomas H Greco Jr

Prof. Werner makes many good and important points in this lecture, about how money is created and allocated by huge banking institutions which gives them enormous power over governments, people and the economy. Yes, control of money needs to be decentralized and democratized. Public and community banks are important elements in achieving that but they exist within the current dominant paradigm of creating money by making loans at interest, which is a fundamental flaw that forces a growth imperative. Debt grows exponentially as time passes so there is never enough money to enable all borrowers to pay what they owe. A distinction must be made between “exchange credit” and “investment credit.” The former should be allocated without interest to producers based on the value of goods and services each is able to sell immediately or in the near-term; the latter should be the reallocation of existing money from savers to entrepreneurs. The exchange function can best be organized as credit clearing circles, like the original WIR cooperative circle that Werner mentioned, then these various circles can be networked together into a global system of exchange. I have been articulating these points and more for the past several decades, most recently in a webinar I conducted for the University of Hertfordshire in November 2021: 2021-11 Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it. (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4).  The Q&A that followed is at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/herts-qa.mp4.  
_________________

Vox Libertatis

Thank you for the insightful comment, Thomas. What are your thoughts on the concept of interest in general? Is a interest-based financial system doomed to always end with enormous inflation culminating in financial collapse?
_________________

Thomas H Greco Jr

That’s a very good question. One must distinguish between primary interest that banks impose on “borrowers” in the process of creating debt-money, and secondary interest that is demanded by those who hold existing money when they lend it to others for whatever purpose.

The primary interest causes debts to banks to grow exponentially because the interest payments do not, for the most part, go toward consumption expenditures but to ever expanding pools of capital held by “capitalists.” Thus, the money supply available for repayment to the banks is always deficient unless the banks create more money by making more “loans” to stay ahead of the extinction of money that occurs when principal payments are made. The empirical evidence of debt growth over time clearly supports this; I call it the ‘usury conjecture,” which I hope will eventually be proven mathematically and/or through some realistic model of the system.

The so-called “business cycle” that oscillates between inflation and depression is natural result of that inherent flaw in the centralized, interest-based debt-money regime. The interest must be paid, one way or the other. Quantitative easing by the various central banks amounts to life support for that failing system. It is essential that the new system be ready to take over before the plug is pulled on the old one or it dies in a chaotic collapses.

Capital can dominate only when exchange media are scarce, either naturally (commodity money like gold and silver) or artificially (centrally controlled debt money). When exchange media are abundant there is no basis for demanding interest. That abundance derives from reconnecting to the real economy of valuable goods and services. As E. C. Riegel clearly showed, only producers are qualified to issue (credit) money. That is money that producers SPEND into circulation and is accepted by others as payment based on the issuer’s credible promise to accept it back as payment for their own goods and services that they are ready, willing and able to deliver immediately or in the near term. That credit money can take the form of currency vouchers (physical or digital) issued interest-free by individual producers, or more effectively, issued jointly by the members of credit clearing circles. Those circles can then be combined into a global network of exchange in which trade credits are allocated and controlled locally but are globally useful as payment. I outline that system toward the end of my previously mentioned webinar (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4). Once that system is in place, interest on secondary “loans” will give way to returns on equity shares as a way of funding capital formation.

Riegel remains obscure but there is more to be learned from his legacy works that from any other source I know of. My annotated précis of his, Private Enterprise Money, can be found at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/10/thg_precis-of-pem-1.pdf, and his main works can be downloaded from my website at https://beyondmoney.net/library/.    

Alternative History — What If?

This Power Point slide show presentation was delivered virtually to the Alternative History Festival in Poland in September 2020. It highlights several historical turns as modern civilization has evolved that led to our present predicament and then asks how things might have been different and how they ought to be.

You can download it here.

Economic justice and the true meaning of the parable of the talents

I have, of late, been attending Sunday services at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Tucson. What that might say about my views on religion is something I’ll save for a later time, but among the things that have drawn me to involve myself with that place are, first of all, its declared mission of caring, openness, social action and inclusion, and secondly, the deep insights into Biblical and related scriptures of its rector, Rev. Steve Keplinger.

In his sermon of November 19, 2017, Rev. Steve Keplinger explains the meaning of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Looking at it in the context of the prevailing culture at the time of Jesus, and the audience he was addressing, Steve’s interpretation will surprise you, as it did me. It makes a great deal more sense than the interpretations I (and probably, you) heard in your earlier religious education.

The first part of the audio recording is a clip from the soundtrack of the movie, Jaws, in which two of the characters compare their scars from wounds suffered in previous encounters. That sets the stage for Steve to describe his spiritual scars that remain from his earlier encounters with incorrect interpretations of that parable. You can listen to it here or on the Grace St. Paul’s website, or you can read the transcript here.

Universal Basic Income, an idea whose time has come…again

In ancient Israel, Mosaic Law, in addition to the division of the land among the tribes and families, delineated several ingenious provisions to assure the welfare of all. Recognizing the tendency in organized societies for inequities to develop over time, it prescribed such measures as the sabbatical year, the jubilee year,  gleaning and the prohibition of usury. Some of these, in some form, were carried over into the Christian era, but over time mercantile and industrial demands overshadowed social concerns. The mid-twentieth century saw tremendous gains in productivity along with renewed demands by the laboring class and racial minorities for a more just distribution of the collective wealth, but over the past 35 years many of the social programs that were instituted by governments have been under systematic attack by powerful reactionary forces resulting in massive increases in the disparities of income and wealth. These disparities bring with them increased violence, crime, addiction, and deteriorating quality of life for all.

Now, with automation rapidly reducing the need for human labor, the separation of livelihood from jobs is becoming an obvious necessity.

Here below are two pertinent videos, and this article mentions a few places where basic income allowances are being tried.

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.

A History of Usury, Interest, and the “Great Con-job”

Here is a well done video by Islamic scholar Tarek El Diwany, in which he outlines the history of usury and interest and explains difference between them. He goes on in parts 2, 3, and 4 to describe the evolution of the present destructive debt-money system and the choice before us. Well worth viewing.–t.h.g.

Usury and the Money Problem, a Message to Faith Communities

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is an international interfaith movement that has been working for peace, justice and nonviolence for almost a century. As a result of meeting Ray Foss during my tour of Oregon and Washington about a year ago, I reconnected with FOR. Ray has lately been instrumental in raising the issues of “usury” and “the money problem” amongst various faith-based communities. I think it is largely through his efforts that a recent issue of Fellowship, the magazine of FOR, had a major focus on Rethinking Money.

Starting with a fine editorial by Mark C. Johnson, FOR executive director, that section of the magazine contains articles by both Ray and myself. My article Money, Usury, and the Economics of Peace, can be read online.

The arguments against the practice of usury/interest go way beyond scriptural prohibitions. It is now obvious to anyone who cares to see, that there are solid economic and social arguments that should be sufficient to persuade any rational person that our present system of money and finance, based as it is on compound interest (usury), is not only unjust, but also destructive to the natural environment, the social fabric, and the common good.

World debt has been growing much faster than any measure of economic output, even GDP (gross domestic product), which includes not only the production of goods, but also the production of “bads.” The financial crises we are seeing in various countries and economic sectors are evidence that the debt burdens have grown far beyond what can be borne by either the private sector or by governments.

The growth of debt must stop. A new economic and financial order must soon emerge, if not consciously and deliberately, then it will happen on its own through the descent into chaos. If political and financial leaders cannot accept the end of the old order of things, then the people themselves must take the lead to develop new arrangements that build a peaceful, more equitable society, from the bottom up. How that might be done s the subject of the latter (prescriptive) chapters of my book, The End of Money and the future of Civilization.