28 Apr 2013

Fixing the Banking System for good

I unfortunately missed a conference called "Fixing the Banking System for Good" that was held in Philadelphia on the 17th of April. It was broadcast live on the web and apparently there were a number of highly respected speakers who were openly pushing for an end to fractional reserve banking. Michael Kumhof talked about "The Chicago Plan Revisited", and Adair Turner talked about "Money and Debt: Radical Solutions to the Challenge of Deleveraging". Hopefully, someone will have recorded what they said and we will be able to see exactly what was being proposed.

Fortunately, Bill Still managed to record the audio from Professor Jeffrey Sachs presentation, which he did by videoconference link, and put it into one of his Still Reports. As Bill puts it, what he says is truly explosive.  Here's a transcript of the end of his presentation.

"I believe we have a crisis of values that is extremely deep…. because the regulations and legal structures need reform. I meet a lot of these people [from] Wall street on a regular basis. I’m going to put it very bluntly: I regard the moral environment as pathological…… I have never seen anything like it. These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that. They have no responsibility to pay taxes. They have no responsibility to their clients. They have no responsibility to ….counterparties in transactions. They are tough, greedy, aggressive and feel absolutely out of control…… They have gamed the system to a remarkable extent. And they have a docile president, a docile White House and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice. It’s terrified of these companies……
If you look at the campaign contributions, which I happened to do yesterday for another purpose, the Financial markets are the Number 1 campaign contributors in the US system now. We have a corrupt politics to the core I'm afraid to say….. Both parties are up to their necks in this. It's nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It really doesn't have anything to do with right wing or left wing, by the way. The corruption is as far as I  can see everywhere.  But what it has led to is this sense of impunity that is really stunning, and you feel it on the individual level right now, and it's very very unhealthy. I have waited for four years, five years now, to see one figure on Wall Street speak in a moral language. And I've not seen it once. And that is shocking to me.  And if they won't, I've waited for a judge, for our president, for somebody and it hasn't happened. And by the way, it's not going to happen anytime soon it seems."
Hear, hear. We clearly can't expect our current politicians to sort this mess out. But it seems to me that the evidence that the whole system is completely rigged is now becoming so overwhelming that citizens will soon be able to force their governments to react.

For example, when a government tries to impose austerity, citizens should be rising up and challenging them. They can point out that the amount of public and private sector debt is now so large that it would be physically impossible to pay off the debt, even if every citizen handed every single cent that they have to the government, and the government stopped spending any money at all. The story that we are told is that all we have to do is cut back on public services and pay more taxes and everything will get back on track. No it won't. It's impossible. There is simply not enough money in the system.

Even if we only consider government debt, it is clear that there is not enough money around just to get the governments out of debt - never mind the rest of us! As I demonstrated yesterday, government debt in the US, (currentlly over $12 trillion) is substantially higher that the money supply as defined by M2 ($10.4 trillion) meaning that you could never pay off the debt. Full stop.

In the Eurozone, paying off the public sector debt of €8.8 trillion would  require 90% of the entire Eurozone money supply (€9.77 trillion, as defined by M3). 

For the UK, I suppose you might just argue that there is a vague chance of succeeding, because total public sector debt (£1.358 trillion) would "only" need about 65% of the total M4 money supply. But that is ignoring the massive amount of private sector debt.

No. It's simple. There is not enough money to pay off debt. And as far as I can see there is only one way out of this mess. It requires the following simple measures.
  1. Massive amounts of  debt-free money creation by central banks.
  2. Direct injection of the newly created money into the economy by a combination of eliminating taxes, infrastructure spending and other public sector activities, and direct payments to citizens.
  3. A Financial Transaction Tax imposed by the central bank on all electronic transactions involving that currency to remove any excess money in the system and divert money to the real economy
  4. A ban on money creation by commercial banks.

1 comment:

  1. How about adding:

    5. Ban on lending money at interest. Banks could charge arrangement fees that realistically covered their actual costs and allowed a reasonable profit, but no more.

    If the commercial sector refused to cooperate, then set up public banks (ideally on a local basis) which would lend money for productive investment at zero interest, but which could also make fair service charges (but not aim to make a profit; just cover their costs).