The Humours of Change Alley

I was recently flattered to be asked how I envisaged the dreaded ‘helicopter money’ working if it were not to simply add further to commercial banks’ already crippling mass of deadweight liabilities and assets, given that not only would printing it up in physical form be tortuous but that cash itself is only one conveniently heinous crime away from being proscribed altogether.


The first possibility is that the central bank issues requisition vouchers – i.e., it credits the Treasury in a dedicated internal account – and the happy recipients of Leviathan’s outlays get direct access there, too, to funds which are also, of course, legal tender for the whole bestiary of its taxes, licences, levies, and fines.

Effectively, the CB would set up some kind of separate giro bank in parallel with commercial bank system so that which ‘droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven’ would all be ‘outside’ money, i.e., M0, just as is today’s wickedly untraceable cash. In fact, this latter, allegedly criminal medium could – in the Bitcoin-Rogoff dystopia into which it seems we peons must soon be driven – easily be merged into it, then quietly abolished by not being re-issued in physical form, once paid in.

Patently, banks themselves would be in need of a ‘different business model’ or else these perpetual embarrassments to the New Order – these ‘dinosaurs’, as the Buba’s Andreas Dombret recently mocked them – might be made entirely redundant and simply allowed to perish.

Rather than sounding outlandish, that is something which might already have a familiar ring to it, since it has recently become the topic of that insidious, carefully concerted seeding of ideas which the elite has learned to practice in order that its most devilish innovations are introduced, not so much with a fanfare, as with blasé acceptance on the part of the carefully habituated.

Additionally, it would be a trivial matter to insist that all monies held captive in this Orwellian clearing house would not be able to be invested in financial assets but only spent on (approved) goods and services, as well as the exactions by which the state nefariously reduces the pro quo which its quid would otherwise command. Combine all this with that other well-prepared novelty, the universal income, and the apparatus of control becomes almost complete.

As an adjunct, note that those exactions can now be taken automatically, with the subject of such depredations having only the option to lodge a guilty-until-proven-innocent appeal in which the defendant will judge the merits of its own case. Nor is this some wild fantasy: Gordon Brown’s late, unlamented government in the UK was said to be actively looking into the feasibility of a scheme whereby one’s employer did not just withhold taxes from one’s salary, but pay the whole shebang over to the Revenue so it could decide, ex ante, how much wool to leave on the shivering sheeps’ backs.

Having sealed the money in sufficiently tightly, those subversively insistent upon what remained of their freedom could now circumvent the rules only by resort to some kind of complicated and increasingly risky subterfuge, or by the narrow frustrations of barter. Gesell charges – negative interest rates, if you will – could readily be applied to make sure the title-holders kept the claims rapidly circulating. Further digital niceties could be employed to make the penalties of disuse vary according to the social profile of the holder as well as to vary that same money’s purchasing power, depending on how favourably the Panopticon in charge of the accounts looked upon the object and timing of his expenditure.

Once that babbling tributary of the Rubicon had been crossed, other, more insidious forms of social discipline could be effected here, too. One could easily imagine that there would be no pay or access for, say, supporters of ‘outsiders’ like Trump, Le Pen, Petry, or Farage, for climate ‘deniers’, or ultimately for anyone else not in complete harmony with the Davos Dominicans and the social-justice Jacobins who are their foot-soldiers in the war to re-engineer humanity.

The state could also limit your access to alcohol, or tobacco, or sugar, or meat – the first three as part of a Thaler-Shiller tyranny aimed at stopping those regarded as ignorant from harming themselves; the fourth an NGO-approved imposition to prevent them from harming that all-encompassing abstraction, The Planet. Along those lines, it could be made extremely difficult for anyone either to produce or consume proper, hydrocarbon energy rather than having to scrape by on the desultory and highly-costly output of some Carney- or Grantham-approved mediaevalism.

Big Brother might monitor your online presence to award points or deduct penalties for what it divines are your attitudes and inclinations. Mixed in with the ubiquity of smartphone and Bluetooth, WiFi and cellular networks, the Internet of Things could be used to score your performance all the livelong day. Londoners will know what I mean when I say that all aspects of life could thus be tracked and charged by means of a universal Oyster card, though others might draw the analogy rather with that of some endless, quest-based RPG which one is positively compelled always to play.

What a Brave New World that would be!

Even before we got to such dark Sci-Fi extremes of intimate, personalized stick-and-carrot ‘behavioural economics’, the mercantilists who, like the proverbial poor, are always with us would be swift to ensure the new money was not negotiable abroad unless some sort of CB swap mechanism was specifically authorised to that end. That way, the state could become instantly and completely protectionist in its buying – much to the detriment of the people’s welfare as it takes its shears to the enriching web of the international division of labour.

At a stroke, the customs department’s toll-gates could be made foolproof, on the part of both buyer AND seller- a possibility one could imagine as warming the heart of the PBoC, for example, by relieving it of its whack-a-mole attempts to limit its subjects’ widespread and constantly shifting efforts at cross-border financial and legal arbitrage.

Be under no illusions, however: for the rest of us, the heat so generated would be nothing short of a bonfire of our remaining liberties.

More from Sean Corrigan
The Oppenheimer Arbitrage
Recently, the always-interesting Dylan Grice at Soc Gen received some well deserved...
Read More
0 replies on “The Humours of Change Alley”