Friday, 23 November 2018

A simple reason to ban private money printing.

Under the existing bank system, a private / commercial bank, when granting a loan, does not need to get the relevant money from anywhere: it can simply produce the money from thin air. See Bank of England article, entitled “Creating Money in the Modern Economy” for confirmation of that point.

If you think that amounts to counterfeiting, then you’re not the first to think that: the French Nobel laureate economist Maurice Allais thought likewise (see article entitled “Credit Markets and Narrow Banking” by Ronnie Phillips).

There is however another reason for banning money creation by commercial banks which seems to have been largely or totally overlooked in the literature, which is as follows.

When a commercial / private bank creates new money and lends it to sundry borrowers, that money gets spent: after all, there’s not much point in borrowing money unless you spend it on something. For example when someone borrows money to buy a newly built house, their money ends up, at least initially, in the pockets of the construction workers, brick and cement manufacturers etc.

On the simplifying assumption that those workers and manufacturers simply bank their newly acquired money and don’t spend it, then in effect, those workers etc have granted a loan to the house purchaser. And those workers will earn interest on that money, especially if they put it into term accounts.

Of course in the real world the latter workers and manufacturers will spend their money fairly quickly, thus the money quickly gets dispersed among THOUSANDS of people. But the above point remains: those thousands of depositors have made a loan (via a bank) to the house purchaser. In short, those depositors are money lenders: they are into COMMERCE.

Should taxpayers back commercial transactions?

But wait a moment: there’s a widely accepted principle that it is not the job of taxpayers or governments to stand behind COMMERCIAL ventures. So when a bank goes bust, what’s the justification for taxpayers / governments rescuing depositors who have deposited money at banks so as to earn interest? There is NO JUSTIFICATION at all!!

Indeed, if you place money with a stock-broker or mutual fund (“unit trust” in UK parlance) or with any other investment intermediary and with a view to earning interest or dividends, there is no taxpayer / government insurance for you, and quite right. So what’s the justification for such insurance in the case of an investment intermediary that happens to call itself a “bank”? I can’t see one.

So if we’re going to to dispense with the latter glaring inconsistency or preferential treatment for banks, we need to have two distinct types of account. First, there need to be totally safe accounts for those who are not into commerce, i.e. who do not aim to have their money loaned out so as earn interest. After all, having a totally safe way of storing and transferring money is a basic human right, I suggest.

Second, there needs to be a category of bank account where depositors want their money loaned out by their bank so as to earn interest, but no taxpayer backed insurance is available.

And what d’yer know? That’s exactly what full reserve banking (aka “Sovereign Money”) has always consisted of!

But strange as it might seem, the above very simple reason for adopting full reserve does not seem to appear in the literature. And I am moderately well acquainted with the literature: I wrote a book on full reserve banking. At the very least, references to the above simple idea are rare, thus the idea needs to be given greater prominence.

So I’ve just published a paper which explains the above simple reason to back full reserve, and which argues for the idea to be given greater prominence. The title of the paper is “A new justification for full reserve banking?”

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