[R-G] [BillTottenWeblog] Bankrolling the World into Chaos
shimogamo at ashisuto.co.jp
Sat Sep 4 07:26:33 MDT 2010
by Michael Rowbotham
Prosperity (January 2000)
It is time to ask searching questions about the near total reliance of
modern economies upon banking. Getting the right answers can sometimes be
difficult. But not asking the right questions in the first place can be a
disaster. The industrialised economies are trying desperately to break the
cycle of boom and bust and the Asian Tigers are counting what is left
after the crash. But no-one is pointing out that modern economies are
rendered inherently unstable by a financial system based almost entirely
The exposure of industrialised nations to the banking system is no less
great than that of the poorer nations, and the risk of collapse just as
possible. The debts registered against the wealthy nations and their
citizens speak for themselves. In the UK outstanding mortgage debts total
GBP 420 billion, commercial debts GBP 380 billion and the National Debt
stands at GBP 400 billion. In the USA, mortgages currently in excess of
$4.2 trillion and a national debt of $5 trillion make one wonder why the
wealthier a nation becomes, the more its financial accounts deteriorate.
The answer to this conundrum is easy. Under the current financial system,
debt is used to create money. Bank of England statistics show that a
staggering 97% of the entire UK money stock consists of bank money created
by the action of lending to borrowers. Government created currency the
notes and coins (MO) at three per cent of the money stock, is now so
trivial that the entire economy functions on money created by bank
lending. Globally, over ninety per cent of all money is created by the
The ability of lending institutions to create a vast circulating money
stock of bank credit is well understood by economists. In most peoples'
minds, money is still the stuff you jingle in your pocket. However, most
money today consists simply of numbers relayed between bank accounts via
computer systems, and created out of thin air every time a loan is made.
The problem with a bank-based money supply is this: When a bank makes a
loan, a debt is created as well as a credit. So with the GBP 680 billion
of bank credit now lubricating the UK economy goes GBP 680 billion of debt
in the form of mortgages, overdrafts, commercial loans and other debts.
A clear political as well as an economic question arises: is it proper to
rely so heavily upon debt to create the nation's medium of exchange?
Of course, the citizens of Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia have not
just been having difficulties with the monthly mortgage. Their entire
future has been rewritten. After decades of struggle to raise per capita
income above the poverty level to a half-decent standard of living, the
financial carpet has been suddenly and cruelly pulled from under their
feet. Forced to accept massive dollar loans from the IMF and commercial
banks, with their currency degraded and now the plaything of international
dealers, their commercial assets are now being picked up for a song by
foreign investors. The Koreans are already talking about a "lost
The Asian crisis reminds the world of the capacity of a bank-based money
supply to lead to complete economic collapse. The industrialised nations
have not experienced this for many decades. But, we too are suffering from
the debt-based financial system. The massive mortgages carried by Western
citizens, and the earnings pressure and wage dependency these create, is a
form of constant oppression. Should we allow our lives to be so dominated
by debt and banking policy, and the stock market manipulation of
international capital flows?
What are the Money Supply Alternatives?
Monetary reform has an ancient pedigree, as applicable to the advanced
industrial nations as to the Third World. Bishop Berkeley asked in the
early 18th century "whether or not it be a mighty privilege for a man to
create a hundred pounds with the stroke of a pen?"
In the 1930s, during the Depression days of poverty amidst plenty, the
financial system brought the economies of the world to a virtual
standstill. Then, the public took to the streets in support of monetary
reformers such as Douglas, Orage, Soddy and Kitson. The monetary reformers
were ignored and Keynsian deficit financing was adopted, that is the world
In the 1980s, the Economic Research Council, under Sir Arthur Bryant,
advocated that the UK government should take on the responsibility for the
issuance of money, thereby obviating the need for a national debt and
reducing the burden of money creation placed upon commerce and the general
population. Bryan Gould, shortly before he left for New Zealand, displayed
his monetary reform credentials when he declared, in the New Statesman (19
Why shouldn't a socially aware and economically responsible government
create credit where it is appropriate ... in order to ensure investment is
made and at the same time strike a great blow for the democratic control
of the economy?
Government-created credit, like the coins and notes they issue, would be
created as a debt-free input into the economy, spent into circulation via
public services, and contribute to a stable, circulating money stock. The
monetary reformers have history on their side. In the 1950s and 1960s, the
money stock consisted of about 75% bank created money and 25% cash
currency, created debt-free. Inflation was lower, growth more stable and
debts markedly smaller in comparison to average incomes, and related to
GDP. Why should the declining use of cash mean that the difference is made
up by bank created money and the debt it entails? Just because the economy
needs less cash doesn't mean it needs more debt.
This question was raised by Lord Sudeley in the House of Lords in May
1998. He asked whether the government intended to take any measure to
compensate for the loss of debt- and interest- free money caused by the
declining use of cash. The official reply, contained in a statement of
masterly evasion and opacity, was "No".
The government issuance of money has always been dismissed as
inflationary. But this need not be the case. If sensible restrictions were
placed on banks and building societies, the government-issued money supply
would be compensated for by curtailing the production of new bank lending.
For instance, there could be a limit, and gradual reduction, in the number
of times a person is allowed to multiply their annual income as the basis
of a mortgage. Since house mortgages support over sixty per cent of the
money stock, this could make a dramatic contribution to preventing
monetary inflation as well as putting a break on the relentless rise in
house prices, which benefits no-one. It would also mean that, over the
years, house buying would became a competition based on money people have
got, rather than at present, money they haven't got. An entirely new
economic agenda is possible, and radically different fiscal conditions
would prevail in an economy based on solvency rather than debt. Although
this offers a range of government and commercial policy options that
amount almost to an economic revolution, it is a reform that can be
undertaken gradually, building up the liquidity in an economy and
monitoring the effects over a number of years, effectively reversing the
recent drift towards ever greater debt.
All national economies are now so financially vulnerable that they are
constantly taken to the cleaners by powerful multinationals and heavily
exposed to the callous and destructive actions of predatory speculation.
More liquidity and solvency would afford protection to the real,
productive economy, rather than making the source of true wealth subject
to the vagaries of finance.
In the end, this has to be part of the answer. And as Bryan Gould points
out, the questions addressed are fundamental political issues, not just a
matter of economics. Why should a nation's people and its commerce drift
ever deeper into debt simply to create their medium of exchange? Why
should a government - the one institution with the constitutional
authority to create money - delegate this responsibility and power
entirely to banks, and thereby oblige the nation to run on debt? These are
the questions we should ask as we watch the crisis in Asia deepen and
spread, perhaps along with a query as to the sanity of the bulk of our
economists, who see no connection between the spiralling debt problems of
the world and the way money is currently created.
Please print out, photocopy and distribute these articles. Also copy and
paste them to emails, and circulate widely, and please include all the
essential contact information below. Thank you.
Essential Further Reading:
Prosperity: Freedom from Debt Slavery - is a four-page quarterly Journal
which campaigns for publicly-created debt-free money. Prosperity is edited
and published by Alistair McConnachie and a four-issue subscription is
available for GBP 10 payable to Prosperity at 268 Bath Street, Glasgow,
Scotland, UK, G2 4JR. Tel: 0141 332 2214; Fax: 0141 353 6900, Email:
contactus at ProsperityUK.com http://www.ProsperityUK.com All back-issues are
still available. The forty-page Report, Clarifying our Money Reform
Proposals, launched at the 2006 Bromsgrove Conference, is available for
GBP 10 payable to prosperity and is essential reading for beginners.
The Grip of Death: A study of modern money, debt slavery and destructive
economics by Michael Rowbotham (Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1998), Goodbye
America! Globalisation, debt and the dollar empire by Michael Rowbotham
(Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2000), and Creating New Money: A monetary
reform for the information age by Joseph Huber and James Robertson (New
Economics Foundation, 2000) are all available from Prosperity.
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