25 Apr 2013

EUREKA : The solution to the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything

It's 3.40 am, but this is the biggie, and I just have to get it onto my blog.

The story so far.

I have added up the total global money supply figures for every country for which I could find numbers and get a total of $71.4 trillion (a higher number than the figure I got earlier for the 39 countries, which was $68.4 trillion - but that's pretty reasonable since the missing countries only contribute a relatively small amount each). I'll put the details of those numbers on my blog real soon now.

I have also added up the total amount of public and private sector debt for the 39 countries for which I have managed to get the full numbers. The answer to that one is $136.9 trillion.

The ratio of debt to money supply is 2 to 1 for those countries. Let's assume that the same ratio holds for the other countries and that the total global debt is twice the global money supply, namely $142.8 million. That difference of roughly $6 trillion for the other countries seems plausible.

So, let's suppose that the good and great of this world get together and say that there is a gap of $71.4 trillion between the amount of debt and the amount of money available, and that we need to generate that much debt free money to get the system back into equilibrium.

Let's say that the World Bank has the job of deciding what to do with the new debt free money that it is authorized to put into the system, and that it decides to do it in the one fair way, namely by providing the same amount of money to every man, woman and child on the planet. The World Bank's figures for population in 2011 totalled  6,951,062,787, so I think that we can assume that it will have reached 7.14 billion by now. That means that the World Bank should generate $10,000 of lovely debt free money for every person on the planet.

What could governments do with all that extra money? Well, priority number one should be to write off  all their debts.  Take a look at this wonderful chart showing the Economist's Global Debt Clock, which is currently standing at nearly $50.5 trillion. Given that the clock adds another $400,000 every three seconds, it won't be long before it gets there. -->

The different colours show the per capita public debt. Dark green countries have very low per capita debt. For example, Nigeria is at $274, Ethiopia at $243, Papua New Guina is at $420 and so on. Lighter green countries like India are at $866 while Algeria is at $432. For all the green countries, $10,000 per person will get them completely out of debt, with plenty to spare.

The $10,000 is even plenty to cover the debt for all the pink countries. Poland is at $7,281, Brazil is at $7,179, South Korea at $7,367 and so forth.

Only the red countries would not get directly out of debt. So, the USA is at $38,194, the UK at $36,259, France at $36,953, Germany at $34,222, Greece at $34,228 and so forth. Note in passing, the Greeks owe $6 a head more that the Germans. Not really much there to justify the Germans imposing massive austerity on the Greeks.

It looks like the Irish may win the competition, with per capita public sector debt at $55,595, but intriguingly, the Canadians are not much better with a debt level of $44,802.

But not to worry. With this system, all of these highly endetted countries would be able to borrow the money from the third world countries who would have a surplus. After all, total public sector debt is $50.5 trillion, and the World Bank will be pumping $71.4 trillion into the world economy. Even after paying off all the debts, there would be another $21 trillion to be used for other things. It's interesting to note that $21 trillion is the same amount of money as is stashed away in private accounts in tax havens.

For example, Ethiopia which has a population of 84.7 million, would have received $847 billion, but only has debts of $18.8 billion. It therefore would have a surplus of nearly $830 billion. Perhaps they would be prepared to lend a bit of that to countries like the UK and France. Whether or not they decide to charge interest would be up them of course. It would be the markets that decide.....

Is this scheme total fantasy? I don't see why. If you agree that there is a massive gap between the amount of debt and the amount of money around, it is clear that something has to change. I for one think that the idea of distributing the new debt free money according to population size is perhaps the only one that is clearly fair. You would eliminate third world debt at a stroke, remove the stranglehold that the markets have on governments, and end the current insanity.

So, it turns out that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everthing isn't 42. It's 72 (trillion). But Douglas Adams was pretty close.

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