26 Jan 2015

A plan for Greece - and the rest of us!

The Greek people have just voted overwhelmingly to reject austerity. They handed power to Alexis Tsipras, the charismatic 40-year-old former communist who leads the umbrella coalition of assorted leftists known as Syriza. They now have hope.

What they now need is some clear solutions to their problems. I'm not sure that Tsipras has all the answers. So, here are my suggestions.

1) Set up a Greek Citizens' Bank. The bank would get its capital from Greek citizens who would inject enough capital into the bank to get it off the ground and allow it to meet international banking regulations such as the Basel III regulations. Citizens would have to realize that they would not get their money back, but I believe that they would see why it would be in their interest.

2) Offer special Greek Government Citizens bonds that pay 0% interest and have the longest duration permissible under standard banking regulations. This is at least 10 years, but could perhaps be extended to 20, 50, 100 or even a 1000 years.

3) Everytime the new Greek government needs to pay the "investors" who had bought the conventional Greek government bonds, it would emit the equivalent value in Citizens bonds that would be bought by the Greek Citizens' Bank. There would be no effective limit to the amount of "money" that could be generated in this way, but since the money would only be used to pay off debt, it could not be accused of being inflationary.

4) When the Bond markets ask for their money back with interest, they should only be paid interest at the rate paid by the Germans - not the extortionate usury rates that Greece was forced to pay at the height of the crisis. As the graph below from the ECB shows, Greece was paying roughly the same rates as Germany from its entry to the Euro in 2001 until 2008, but then ended up paying 29.24% to Germany's 1.85% in Feburary 2012 - that's 15.8 times more.  For me, those excessive interest payments are totally unjustifiable. It is now clear that this totally unjust difference was entirely due to the failure of the ECB and the European Union to treat the Greek people fairly. Indeed, those extortionate interest rates account for much of the increase in Greek Public Sector debt which, thanks to Troika imposed austerity, soared from 105% of GDP in 2008, to 175% of GDP today.

5) The Greek people should insist that instead of pumping €60 billion a month into the financial markets for the forseeable future, Mario Draghi and the ECB should simply provide the same amount of money directly to the 330 Million Eurozone citizens in the form of an Unconditional Basic Income. This would mean 182€ for every man, woman and child in the Eurozone, an amount that for a family of four would be nearly 25% more than the current minimum wage in Greece (€585.78).

6) Greece should insist that the ECB introduces a universal transaction tax on all Euro-denominated financial transactions - wherever they occur in the world. The revenue generated by the tax should be divided between the 17 Eurozone countries according to population size. Half the money should be given to each country's government, and the other half provided directly to Citizens in the form of an Unconditional Basic Income.  Given that much of the trading in places like the City of London are in Euros, this would provide substantial sums. As an example, London-based LCH.Clearnet processed €238,447,455,975,386 in Euro-denominated products in 2014. A tax of 0.1% on that could generate up to €200 billion in revenue - and that is just one of the players.

7) The Greek government should create accounts in N-Euros for each Greek citizen. These electronic accounts, which cannot go negative, could be used to pay taxes and other payments. Citizens could choose to receive a variable percentage of any salaries or benefits in N-Euros rather than standard Euros. This would allow the government to pay its workers and provide social security payments, without the need to borrow "money" from the financial markets and from the ECB and IMF. For more information about the N-Euro solution, see my previous posts from September 2012 and October 2012 as well as my Youtube presentation on the subject.

8) In parallel, the Greek government should set up a Citizens' Credit system, along the lines of the OWE'M system that I set up last year using the publicly available Cyclos 4 banking system. It's a system that needs no actual money at all to run. Users can simply pay for goods and services by sending the equivalent of an IOU in Euros. If the person providing the goods and services is prepared trust the other person, then the entire economy can potentially operate without the need for any Bank generated money at all. Conventional Euros would just be the measuring stick.

And, once those demands have been met, we will be able to apply the same principles to all the countries in the Eurozone and beyond.

Hey, 2015 might turn out to be a good year after all! Thank you Greece!

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