19 Oct 2014

Why Mario Draghi and Mark Carney should be pushing for an Unconditional Basic Income for all

Yes... even the heads of the European Central Bank and the Bank of England should be pushing to introduce an Unconditional Basic Income for all their citizens. It's not just every single entrepreneur, and all the right wing anti-immigration parties like UKIP and the Front National, who should be campaigning.

Currently, Mario Draghi (who is the head of the European Central Bank) and Mark Carney (governer of the Bank of England) are supposed to try and maintain monetary stability, and yet they have very few levers with which they can work. They can set the interest rates at which commercial banks can borrow from the Central Bank, but that is not money that can be put directly into the economy. And the fact is that, most of the time,  a commercial bank doesn't need to go to the Central Bank at all - it can quite happily create new money in the form of bank deposits for its customers with no help from Draghi and Carney.

On the other hand, the Lisbon treaty makes it impossible for Central Banks to provide money directly to governments (a brilliant move by the Commercial Banking lobbyists - who have arranged things so that our governments are forced to borrow from the Commercial Banking sector - who will be quite happy to create huge amounts of debt on demand - and then sit back and collect the roughly 3% of GDP that taxpayers have to spend to keep the banking sector happy - and that's just public sector debt).

I've already pointed out that the Lisbon Treaty actually leaves open another option, since Central Banks could lend to "Publicly Owned Credit Institutions" which could lend on to governments.

But I really do think that there is an even better solution for the Central Banks. If they were to make direct payments into Citizen's banks accounts, this would be a very straight forward way to get money into the system where it is needed. Much better than conventional Quantitative Easing, which essentially involves throwing money at the financial sector and praying.

You may argue that if Central Banks were really to start creating money to pay Citizen's a Basic Income, that this could cause inflation. But I have the solution. It would be to remove the same amount of money from the economy in the form of a flat rate financial transaction tax on all Euro-denominated transactions (in the case of the ECB) or sterling-denominated ones (in the case of the Bank of England).

There's one very nice feature of this convertion process. The Central Bank would effectively be sucking in debt based money from the system (money that has been created as debt by banks when they make loans) and turning it into debt free money in the accounts of citizens. It's a form of money (or rather debt) laundering process.

Currently, something between 95% and 97% of the "money" in the system is in the form of interest bearing debt. M3 money supply (which includes not just notes and coins, but also all the electronically generated debt-based money) stands at just over €10 trillion. At the same time, transactions in the Eurozone are running at well over €2 quadrillion a year. Taxing those transactions at 0.1% and injecting the revenue directly into citizens' bank accounts could allow as much as €2 trillion of the €10 trillion M3 to be converted into debt free money per year - without any real increase in the actual amount of money in circulation.

If I have understood the mechanism, it can be expected that within a few years, it might be possible to eliminate virtually the entire debt mountain.  Surely, that has to be excellent news for everyone (except, perhaps, the people who currently benefit by being paid the interest payments on that debt).

All that would be possible without the Central Banks having to change the actual amount of money in the economy at all. It would simply be a case of moving the money from one place (the financial sector), to another (the real economy), and converting it from debt-based to debt-free money.

Once the mechanisms of the FTT based money removal, and the Unconditional Basic Income for reinjection have been set up, Central Bankers like Draghi and Carney could do even more. They would have all the levers they need to directly control the amount of money in circulation - something that they could only dream of today. If they decide to increase the level of the financial tax on transactions without increasing the amount of money being reinjecting into Citizen's bank accounts, this would have the effect of decreasing the amount of money in the system. Alternatively, the Central Bank could, if necessary, make direct payments to citizens that exceed the amount of money raised by the tax - thus increasing the total amount of money in circulation.

So,  Mario Draghi and Mark Carney, wouldn't you love to get your hands on those two levers? Isn't that really what you need to be able to do your jobs??

If you agree, you could start campaigning with the politicians to allow you to (i) tax electronic transactions in your respective currencies (wherever those transactions occur in the world), and (ii) have the right to create accounts for all the citizens in your jurisdiction, and to have the power to transfer money to those accounts.

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