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The Standard

Positive Money & the Wizard of Oz

Written By: - Date published: 1:58 pm, July 7th, 2012 - 13 comments
Categories: monetary policy - Tags: , , ,

In our current system, we give men like Bob Diamond the immense power to create money.

Need it be so?

The Positive Money movement wishes to change that, and give that power back to Government.

Henry Ford said: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”  And it certainly seems true that most people don’t understand that money is created by private banks when they give you loans, having the quaint idea that the bank must have had somebody save that money first.

But that is not how our Fractional Reserve Banking system works, and banks just get to create money when they give you a loan.

Banks have not been the best corporate citizens of late, hardly responsible with their lending, but then we only need look back at the founder of the Rothschild’s dynasty at the start of the 19th century: “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws,” and we can see it’s not a new trend.

So the Positive Money movement (oddly with some editorial backing from NZ Investor magazine), wants Government to issue money instead of banks, which would go back to the old days and only lend what they have in savings.  They point out that the first Labour Government did that – using the money created to build houses and infrastructure, without causing any dangerous inflation.

Inflation becomes an additional source of revenue other than taxes – one that would have to be strictly controlled by a Monetary Policy Committee or similar, rather than left in the hands of politicians looking at a 3-year electoral cycle.  It’s worth looking through a more detailed analysis of how such a system would work, but the short answer appears to be: better than the current one.

The current system relies on people and countries going into the banks’ debt for anything to happen.  As Thomas Jefferson put it:

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their  currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of  all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

And it is through banks inflating the money supply that we had our debt-fuelled boom in the noughties, followed by the GFC when Fear finally trumped Greed in the bi-emotional world of banking.

It is through Greed and inflationary bank-lending that our house prices keep rising, out of all proportion to incomes.  The price of a house is no longer the capitalistic “what someone’s willing to pay”, but “who has the greediest bank, and what are they willing to lend”.

Over the last 30 years in the UK banks have caused 7.8% inflation pa through their lending, causing a 6-fold increase in house prices.  Banks are slowly channelling all wealth into them, through interest: in 2008 NZ banks made $3.2 billion in profit, while all other companies on our stock exchange made a total of $2.89 billion.  95% of that profit went to Australia.

It is odd that the argument over banking and monetary systems has been going on for hundreds of years, yet almost everyone is unaware of it.  Thomas Jefferson’s quote above is from 1808; The Wizard of Oz was written in 1900 as an allegory of monetary reform (the yellow brick road is the gold standard; Dorothy the everywoman/man, taking the Scarecrow – agricultural workers – and the Tin Man – industrial workers – with her, and her silver slippers are the ability to create money ourselves; The Wicked Witches of the East & West are Wall St Bankers and JD Rockefeller respectively; and the Wizard is the charlatan running our system, using illusion to fool the citizens in Oz to convince them he has real power – among other symbols).  The Federal Reserve Act was only passed in 1913, with President Woodrow Wilson opining only a few years later:

I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of  credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most  completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a  Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.

Nixon abolished the Gold Standard only in 1971, with the world quickly following suit.  Clinton only repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, allowing banks to blur the line between investment and retail banking.  So things have most definitely not always been this way.

All too often we accept the current way as inevitable, or the only possible way.  But almost always There Are Real Alternatives.

On the other hand we mustn’t fall into the trap that we need change, this is change, we need this.  So, now that I’ve put forward Positive Money’s case, I’d like to hear the counter-arguments.  Have a good read about how Full Reserve Banking works, and tell me:  How would we transition from the banks current state to the one envisaged by Positive Money?  Would we still have the necessary fluidity to provide capital to our productive businesses (already struggling for capital)?  What else could go wrong?

13 comments on “Positive Money & the Wizard of Oz”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Would we still have the necessary fluidity to provide capital to our productive businesses (already struggling for capital)?

    Of course we would. The question you really need to be asking is: Would we still have access to the resources for our businesses? Which I’ve already answered many times – yes. We have the resources and, as we already own them, they’re the cheapest available to us and using them is the most efficient.

    What else could go wrong?

    It would take awhile to change over from the present delusional system and so we’d have to be on watch for the present system trying to come back.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Nice one Bunji.

    And one other point: a higher level of inflation is VERY helpful to reducing debt burdens, as fixed amounts of debt become less onerous.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    This Steve Keen blog post on the pivotal role of banks in money creation and the ‘Endogenous Money’ theory is very helpful as well.

    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/07/03/7787/

    Note the empirical research which shows that changes in overall debt levels have been very closely related to changes in employment.

  4. DH 4

    When the gold standard was removed it seems all the world did was end up transferring it to a property standard. The defacto value of money now is property. I’ve got some cash on call and it’s real value is less than when I deposited it.

    I wonder if a simpler way to rein in the banks is to ban interbank borrowing. Endogenous lending is only possible because banks can borrow the deposits of other banks. If trading banks had to work off only their own deposits we’d see a big drop in money creation. The central bank could then fill the gaps in demand.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      What you are asking is for banks to become strictly ‘savings and loans’ institutions. Good idea I say, with only Government holding the ability to issue new money.

  5. Kotahi Tane Huna 5

    I think the real way to “fix” this is to acknowledge that any system we design will have inherent flaws that the unscrupulous will exploit, and that if the system has to be abandoned in favour of different settings in the future – so be it.

    • DH 5.1

      You make a good point. The big debate over endogenous lending revolves around the banks manipulating the way the central bank gives an unlimited overdraft to trading banks. It’s purpose is to provide stability to the banking system but the banks instead exploit it to lend money they don’t have.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        It’s purpose is to provide stability to the banking system

        And it doesn’t do any such thing, as we have very clearly observed.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna 5.1.1.1

          The point is that unintended consequences are inevitable, whatever we do. Something needs to change, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves that that would be the end of the matter.

  6. muzza 6

    Very well written Bunji…

    The problem with all of this is that our political system is owned by the same owners of the monetary supply, and until the awareness of how the current system works reaches a critical mass, nothing is going to change!

    We have to take back our politics first, which is why we are having our sovereignty signed away so quickly/secretly in the TPPA, and the energy assets disposed of. The same owners, will get the assets, and own the companies, which our sovereignty will be lost to.

    “Money”, sits at the very top of the heap, so controlling it, effectively allows you to control most any industry you care to name!

    Think this is a joke, think much harder!

  7. muzza 7

    Oh and in case it went unsaid, we have a banker in charge of our country, and another future National leader working for the Westpac!

  8. prism 8

    Sounds positive!

  9. vto 9

    20 years ago only few people realised all this.
    10 years ago the internet allowed more people to find this out.
    5 years ago people like travellerev started telling everyone.
    today it is a subject on a widely read blog.
    tomorrow it will be a mainstream news article
    then it will be all over for the bankers

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  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    4 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    5 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    5 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    5 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    1 week ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    1 week ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago

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