The most important thing that needs to be learned is that money is nothing. Or, to be more precise, money is a tool that can be used to distribute the resources available to a society. In and of itself it has no value nor does it have a physical representation (i.e, it’s not gold). Specifically, money is not a medium of exchange but a symbol of exchange and because of this the cost of money, usually presented as interest, should be zero.
The second thing to realise is that money only works if it’s moving. When it’s moving it’s creating work and distributing the nation’s resources. When it’s sitting still, such as in a bank account, it’s not moving and thus not creating work or moving resources. Now a lot of people will dispute that and say that the money in a bank account is being loaned out but, as the Bank of England has recently shown, that is wrong. Banks create the money that they loan out which means that the money in a bank account is just sitting there doing nothing.
The third thing is that as money is spent into the economy it also needs to be taken back out so as to prevent excess inflation from over accumulation of money. Inflation reduces the use of money as a tool because it reduces money’s value as a symbol of exchange. Inflation will be caused as people look for a lot of things to buy increasing consumption and also pushing us into unsustainability. People will also start to look at community wealth that they can buy which will give them a residual income such as National’s sale of our power generating facilities or housing to be rented out. This latter action inevitably results in a vicious circle of over accumulation and increasing poverty.
The fourth thing is that foreign money is worthless in the local economy as it’s only useful for buying resources from its issuing country. This means that borrowing money from overseas does nothing to make local resources available to the economy – in fact, it does the exact opposite as importation of foreign resources pushes out the use of local resources. Essentially, to make NZ resources available requires NZ currency.
At the moment our high interest rates, compared to the rest of the world, are causing hot money from offshore to flood into NZ seeking the higher returns available. This, in turn, pushes up the value of the NZ$ on the foreign exchange which causes exports from NZ and employment to decrease thus lowering the productive activity of the country. That hot money has to go somewhere and get a return and manufacturing and development are risky so the banks make it easier to get home loans which increases the number of dollars chasing the limited supply of housing pushing up house prices. And remember, that money isn’t actually being loaned out, it’s being used as the base for the private banks to create money and the banks create it in multiples of what they have. Use of the higher interest rates and having reserve ratios is supposed to limit the amount of money that banks can create by decreasing peoples desire to loan money but that, as we’ve seen, doesn’t work.
So what we have is an influx of money pushing up house prices but not an increase in productive economic activity due to the returns to owning houses being higher and less risky than the returns to actually making stuff. Increasing house prices encourages an increase in spending as people use their houses as income by taking out higher mortgages on them. All of which results in increased inflation across the board but a higher inflation in house prices.
What we need to do is stop the hot money flowing into NZ driving up the value of the NZ$ and stop the private banks from creating money which drives up inflation. The solution comes in many parts but is relatively simple: Make NZ$ available at 0% interest and have no fees.
The first part is that the government creates its own money to support its budget spending the money into the economy. This money would be used to support services where direct charging doesn’t work such as health, infrastructure, education and R&D. This spending would be counter balanced by taxes that increase or decrease as needed. This tax rate movement would, effectively, replace the OCR and so we could expect movement in it on a similar six weekly cycle. The movement in the tax rates would be governed by the Reserve Bank of NZ (RBNZ) but the tax thresholds and the ratios of tax rates between them would be set by government legislation. Local councils would fund their spending the same way but I’m of two minds if they should have their own regional reserve bank or if the functions of the RBNZ be extended to them. Either could work.
The second part involves the private banks. They would be banned from creating money ex nihilo as they do now and the RBNZ would no longer be the Lender of Last Resort. The banks would thus be limited to only loaning out money that they had on deposit for that purpose thus removing the massive increase in money entering the system and pushing up inflation, especially the house price inflation, that we have now.
The third part is a state bank which creates the money it loans out ex nihilo. This bank will make both mortgages and business loans available to the public. It will neither charge interest or fees and will be supported through general taxation. The loans will have strict conditions on them thus limiting money creation through regulation rather than, as at present, through interest. As any default would have to be soaked up through general taxation this bank would have to have a close working relationship with the RBNZ.
The fourth part is state departments that charge directly for the services that they provide. Such services would include a state provided insurance, Accident Compensation, Solid Energy and others. These would be able to create money so as to pay to provide their services while charging enough to remove that money from the system. These departments would be instructed to run at cost so that they’re not pulling excessive amounts of money out of the system in the way that the private profit system does.
Most importantly, as money would be openly directly created by the government to bring about the use of the countries resources as needed it would obviate the need for savings and foreign investment. It would also decrease the government borrowings to zero as they would no longer need to borrow which would eliminate the billions of dollars wasted in interest that the government presently pays out yearly.
Interest rates would, over time, reduce to zero thus decreasing the value of the NZ$ on the foreign exchange as the only people purchasing the NZ$ would be those people who wanted to buy NZ made products and not the speculators who only look to the relatively high interest rates. This would boost our exports and thus create more work.
The total removal of interest bearing debt based money, which only benefits the rich, would significantly boost the economy. It would do this through reducing the money going to the privately owned banks (most of which goes to Australia) and thus increasing the money that stays in the New Zealand economy. As interest payments decrease to zero over time we would also see a reduction in prices as interest is removed from them.
Draco T Bastard