Chapter 9: Reform

Anyone reading this probably already feels that reform would be a good idea. On paper, reform would be a simple matter: merely cancelling unjust laws that support negotiable debt. But its effect upon the world would be immense. Powerful interest groups depend on negotiable debt, and they would lose out. In addition, those who would benefit from reform do not understand how it is destroying the world and our future. So, reform will be very hard to achieve.

 

More fundamental reform would mean, in addition to cancelling unjust laws, imposing some reduction on the vast fortunes accumulated with the help of those laws. There is precedent for this kind of reform: after the Second World War, in Germany, the occupying forces, together with the post-war West German government, imposed reductions on the vast fortunes accumulated by Nazi financiers. The economy of West Germany sprung to life (see page ???).

 

Because reform will be so hard to achieve, it’s worth trying to imagine how the world would benefit.

 

It is hard to answer this by looking at the past. Historically, as soon as ‘surplus value’ is being created – in other words, as soon as workers are producing more than is necessary for their survival – powers emerge to seize it for themselves. So far, these powers have been ‘the sword’ and the ‘money power’ often in competition. The ‘money power’ tends to take over as trade and commerce become more important. Exploitation by the ‘money power’ is subtler and less obvious than exploitation by the sword.

 

A fairer distribution of ‘surplus value’ does, however sometimes occur historically in gaps between the dominance of these two powers. In 17th century England, for instance, feudal powers were in decline and the ‘money power’ was not yet fully developed. For a brief time, property was more equally distributed and ordinary people were more prosperous. This temporary equality lasted into the next century, long enough for observers like Voltaire, Hume and Montesquieu to be astonished and impressed by it.[1]

 

Looking at the question logically rather than historically (reasoning backwards from the observed effects of negotiable debt, somewhat like the old joke ‘What happens when you play a country music record backwards? Your wife comes back to you, you stop drinking and your dog comes back to life) we might expect changes along the following lines.

 

The huge and continual drain on those who work contributively would diminish. Working people would enjoy more of the fruits of their labours.

 

The amount of debt in the world would reduce dramatically once the money supply is no longer created as two debts – one fake, the other real (see p. ???). In addition, national debts would no longer be so easy for governments to borrow, or attractive to those who invest in them (see p.???). Governments would no longer find it so easy to pile debt onto their citizenry.

 

Local communities would come economically to life, relieved of the continual drain on their activities by corporate ownership, which takes profits away to distant tax-havens leaving debt behind.[2] After reform, people would have more to spend on services provided by other people.

 

Great corporations, which have grown fat on easy borrowing of credit-money and flourished as vehicles of remote ownership, would lose much of their advantage.

 

Democracy would breathe new life. Here, historical examples shout out loud. When voters grow desperate, but do not understand what is oppressing them, they vote for simplistic and destructive loudmouths like Hitler and Trump.[3] These people bring not reform, but more exploitation and more destruction.[4] The complicit middle, who are beneficiaries of the system and obfuscators of how it works, complacently ignore their own part in the robbery and blame the robbed for their lack of intelligent understanding. Because our perceptions of the world are moulded by the social group to which we belong, democracy must be inclusive to be meaningful. In the words of Lord Acton, ‘laws should be adapted to those who have the heaviest stake in the country, for whom misgovernment means not mortified pride or stinted luxury, but want and pain and degradation.’[5]

 

As a consequence of democracy revitalized, extremist politics would lose their attraction. Over the past century, we have been led into many evils: more potent weapons, planetary destruction, race hatreds, nationalisms, etcetera, etcetera. ‘The people’ are often blamed for these evils, although the role of elites in determining these things is hardly a secret.[6]

 

In a more democratic world, we would see less secrecy around ownership. True democracies have usually insisted on public knowledge of personal finance, making it much harder for crime and corruption to flourish. If money is to be a public good rather than a means of robbery, secrecy is not helpful.

 

If the principle of negotiable debt were abandoned, ownership would become more direct, more involved, less remote. It is easy for remote owners to demand destructive practices when they never see the results. More owner-involvement would have dramatic consequences for nature and the environment. We could expect a reduction in the destructive exploitation of natural resources (see p.???). The natural world could begin to recover its health; and we could begin to recover a future.

 

We also might experience great changes in ‘culture’. The creative role of culture is to enhance our understanding of the world, so that we may more intelligently determine our future. When culture is provided by commercial corporations, considerations of profit rule and people are fed what they want to hear. Lives today are precariously dependent on superior powers and ‘culture’ is dominated by escapism, self-indulgence and fantasy. This is the opposite of true culture. Many commentators call today’s ‘culture’ an ‘anti-culture’, encouraging the very thing we should be calling a halt to – our drift towards disaster.

 

War would surely not come to an end, but it would equally surely be lessened. Negotiable debt was developed for purposes of war-making, and economies based on credit-money depend on arms production and war just to keep healthy (see page???).

 

The power of great nations with strong currencies and finance industries to purchase the assets of weaker nations would diminish. Fewer people would be forced from their homes; traditional and more eco-friendly production practices would regain share in the markets.

 

In this kind of revitalized world, public and private decision-making might revolve around issues of genuine significance: climate change, the destruction of the environment both land and sea, and the forced migrations of millions as their lands are purchased from under their feet with newly-created money and made uninhabitable by large-scale industrial farming and/or global warming.

 

In a world of greater freedom, the guiding principles of our behaviour would change. No longer would ‘insatiably more’ be our command. Most humans are guided by a moral instinct, wanting to give as much as they take. The instinct among those who rule us, however – among politicians and the very rich – is to take all and leave others with nothing.[7] Our ruling classes have designed systems that make it easy for themselves to do just that, and we have let them get away with it. The great tragedy of our civilisation is that the moral element is no longer influential in our economic and political dealings. A restoration of morality would be transformative.[8]

 

REFORM: HOW SHOULD IT BE DONE?

 

There are three approaches to reform. One is to fundamentally reform laws that make debt into a tradeable commodity. A second approach is to adjust the regulations, so the system can continue to operate, but within tighter constraints so that it’s more stable. A third is to encourage alternative systems of currency, whether local credit systems or privately created systems such as ‘bitcoin’.

 

REFORMING THE LAWS.

 

If we recognise that negotiable debt is the fundamental problem, reform becomes in theory relatively easy. Borrowing and lending would not be discouraged or forbidden – far from it. The change would be, that only original lenders would be helped by the State to recover on a debt. Nations would reform their laws so that the buying and selling of debt is no longer supported.[9]

 

In reality, only democratic pressure can bring about such reform. The main problem here is information. So long as most economists are compliant with the powers-that-be, simple truths about negotiable debt are unlikely to spread far. Public understanding of our money system will remain negligible. The public will continue to be attracted by unsavoury demagogues who promise change, but who in reality deliver the same, only worse.

 

If this kind of fundamental reform were undertaken, many questions would have to be answered. Here are a few of them.

 

First question: Should the law merely cease to support negotiable debt, or should the creation of negotiable debt be made a positively criminal activity?

 

Second question: could a nation ‘go it alone’ after reforming its laws? How would it interact with remaining systems, in which money continues to be created for predatory speculation?

 

Third question: should there be an international currency, or unit of account, to intermediate trade between the various currencies of the world and avoid the kind of currency wars we see beginning today between China and America? Keynes suggested such an arrangement after the Second World War (the ‘Bancor’) for slightly different reasons but it was rejected, perhaps because America was relishing the thought of dominating the world through the dollar.[10]

 

Fourth question: should some sort of redistributive justice be undertaken, to redress the vast inequalities that have developed under our present system? As mentioned earlier, an interesting precedent exists: the redistribution undertaken by the Allies in Germany after the Second World War. Vast fortunes had been accumulated by Nazi financiers. These fortunes were forcibly reduced by over 90% after the war, and debts were also reduced by the same ratio. In addition, equal hand-outs were given to all citizen-families. The result was an economic ‘miracle’.[11] This ‘miracle’ was in reality a predictable outcome of reducing inequality. After that, credit-creation was allowed to resume – and so, of course, the growth of inequality began afresh.

 

Today, perhaps for the first time in history, opportunities offer themselves for the development of extensive and just money systems in which money is property pure and simple, not negotiable debt. Digital payment systems and open ledgers make this a simple possibility. Lending and borrowing would still flourish, but debt would not be a commodity for speculation.

 

Fundamental monetary reform is inextricably tied up with political reform and with changes to power-relations within and between nations. These changes are also highly desirable in the interests of peace, justice and continued human life.

 

For instance: there is a feeling today among most people that globalization should be less of a globalized kleptocracy and more a globalization of justice. The founding principle of a state is to outlaw violence between its citizens; a ‘new world order’ should outlaw violence and robbery between nations. Efforts to do this over the last hundred years – for instance by the League of Nations and the United Nations – have been notable failures. Predatory credit and the dependency of ‘advanced’ economies on arms production and war have significantly contributed to these failures.

 

MONEY AFTER LEGAL REFORM.

 

After reform, ‘pure’ money would behave mostly as it does now for people who use it as money – i.e. for buying, selling, and saving. It would behave very differently, however, for people who want to use it to make more. No longer could it be summoned from nowhere, like ‘spirits from the vasty deep’. No longer could money sit in a bank and earn interest. It would have to be lent for some purpose, and at some risk, before it yielded profit.[12]

 

On the other hand, transferring money would become relatively simple and cost-free, because it would mean no more than transferring a number between ledgers.[13]

 

The quantity of money in circulation would be steadier and more controllable. Money would no longer be cancelled when debts to banks were repaid: as a result, a great deal less would have to be created. In today’s system, banks create and destroy money in continuous process; in addition, they create huge amounts of money when the mood is optimistic, then destroy huge amounts when pessimism takes over and loans are called in. ‘Pure’ money on the other hand would remain in circulation, and its amount would be controlled by public decision-making, not by private profiteers.

 

The profit in making new money would be ‘one-off’. The profit in making ‘pure’ or permanent money – for instance, by coining gold, printing paper, gathering shells, growing tobacco, making holes in stones – is almost always one-off. When money is in lasting circulation, rulers have to resort to desperate (and obvious) measures to profit a second time: in 1544, for instance, Henry VIII of England recalled all the coin and replaced it with coin made of cheaper metal.

 

Lending would involve human, and therefore moral, decision-making. A bank is legally obliged to create and lend money purely on the criterion of the profit it will yield.[14] Humans, on the other hand, when lending money, act on all kinds of motives, and often profit is not even one of them.

 

The whole behaviour of money would be simpler to understand, not only for the general public but also for politicians and workers in financial services.[15] Money would work as it is supposed and understood to work now: it would be a form of property that simply exists, and which is borrowed and lent by banks in much the same way as the rest of us borrow and lend.

 

Debt would be a private arrangement between borrower and lender, and the State would only help to recover a debt on behalf of the lender. An intermediary such as a bank would then do what most people think it does anyway: take in money as deposits and lend it out. Banks would no longer create the money they lend.

 

Owing to the huge growth in internet activity and connectivity between people all over the world, opportunities for borrowing, lending and intermediation have grown exponentially over the past few decades,

 

REFORMING THE REGULATIONS

 

For various reasons, reform groups today tend to aim for changes in regulations rather than radical legal reform. There seem to be many reasons for this. For some, fundamental reform seems unrealistic or unachievable; for others, great concentrations of power seem necessary in our world of ceaseless aggression; perhaps for others, the workings of negotiable debt are not well-understood.

 

Certainly, many who seek reform feel the best way to approach it is little-by-little, hoping to achieve what is possible in the circumstances, not attempting to change the whole system all-at-once.

 

For many people, entrusting credit-creation to the State seems an attractive way forward, despite historical examples provided by a century of communist state-supremacy. The idea here is that in a genuine democracy, money would be created in a way beneficial to the majority.

 

Whatever their approach, most reformers wish to make the money-creation system more just and less damaging. The kinds of change they recommend can be summarized under various headings. These changes are recommended by different reformers, sometimes in varying combinations:

 

  • ‘National banks of credit’: the idea here, is that state-owned banks would operate alongside (and in the same manner as) commercial banks; but instead of lending purely for profit, they would lend to projects with a social benefit. Banking profits would go to governments, thereby reducing taxation.[16]
  • 100% reserve. The idea here is that banks would be obliged to keep as much value in reserve as they create in loans. If reserve was gold, this would mean keeping stocks of gold. Now that reserve is numbers loaned or sold by the government, it would mean government provided the money and banks managed lending. The reserve would be a source of revenue for government. Many 100% reservists advocate going back to a reserve of gold. The aims here are financial and market stability, and less profit to creators of credit.[17]
  • Free banking. Any private business would be free to create money; the marketplace would determine which currencies would be successful. Most free-bankers favour a gold reserve. Some free-bankers wish to see money loaned into existence; others would prefer that only pre-existing money be loaned. The common aim here is to reduce ‘crony capitalism’ – the damaging relationship between government patronage and wealth-creation.[18]
  • Sovereign Money. The idea here is that the money-supply should be created by the government, not by private banks; and as pure property, not as credit (with the possible addition of a state bank that issues credit for public works). Non-credit money would be permanent, so more would only be created as the economy expanded (and conversely, cancelled if the economy contracts).[19]
  • An expanded role for community currencies, supplemented by credit-clearing circles based on actual goods and services. These systems already exist, but they have been side-lined into relative insignificance by the dominance of bank-created money. Credit would no longer be created out of nothing as interest-bearing debt.[20]
  • Simple displacement of bank currency by externally-created digital currencies such as bitcoin, backed by the open ledger system of recording transactions (‘blockchain’).
  • Changes to accounting rules, so that banks may no longer count debts to themselves as assets.[21]
  • Access for everyone to accounts in reserve money – digital cash – at central bank accounts. At present only banks and a few other select financial institutions are allowed accounts at central banks, The Bank of England is researching the possibility of ‘central bank digital currency’: in its own words, ‘a universally accessible and interest-bearing central bank liability, implemented via distributed ledgers, that competes with bank deposits as a medium of exchange.’[22]

 

The two organizations which have serialized this book, Positive Money and the Cobden Centre, take different approaches to solving the problem of how to achieve a money supply that is more just, more efficient, and more stable. Positive Money favours 1, 4 and 8 of the above proposals; the Cobden Centre is keener on 2, 3 and 6. Both, I believe, would look kindly on 5 and 7.

 

A PROBLEM.

 

If regulations were to be changed without fundamental reform to the law, a large question presents itself. Would the myriad of other tricks involving negotiable debt be allowed to continue? If not, how would they be stopped?

 

While debt remains negotiable, human ingenuity will invent ever new ways of conjuring value out of nothing. These conjurings contribute nothing to the welfare of humanity, but on the contrary, do it enormous harm.[23]

 

THE TRANSITION TO ‘SOVEREIGN’ OR ‘PURE’ MONEY.

 

The transition from bank-created money to ‘sovereign’ or ‘pure’ money would involve a one-off re-definition of money units as units of pure property, not as ownership of debt from banks.

 

The transition, according to the realistic proposals of Joseph Huber, The Cobden Centre and Positive Money, would consist of redefining present-day bank-created money as pure money.[24] Because all money is a mirror-image of debt to banks, the debts of banks would be wiped out but the debts to banks would remain. A possible solution to this is that existing debts to banks should be re-allocated to governments.[25]

 

Many economists insist that a transition would present few problems. If troubles do arise (perhaps along the lines of those listed above) a number of emergency techniques could be put into operation. Some have been tried and tested in today’s chaotic financial world, such as capital controls; price and wage controls; restrictions on currency movements, purchases and exchange, and the use of an intermediate and neutral international ‘world’ currency.

 

CREATION AND DESTRUCTION OF MONEY UNDER THE NEW SYSTEM.

 

It has long been recognised that the justice system should be kept separate from the selfish short-term interests and vagaries of political power. The same should surely be true for the creation of the money supply.

 

For this reason, many reformers have recommended the establishment of an independent authority to command the government in how much money should be created or destroyed. The most detailed modern recommendation I know of is that of Henry C. Simons. [26] The authority’s decisions would be determined by a single, simple objective: to steady the value of money. Such an idea is not at all unrealistic. For instance, in England today the Monetary Policy Committee acts responsibly and authoritatively – but to a completely different script.

 

The reason for aiming at a steady value for money is simple. A steady value favours no one: not borrowers nor lenders, not producers nor consumers, not workers nor capitalists; it is even-handed and just.[27]

 

When there is a need for more money – perhaps because the economy has grown – the authority would tell the government to create and spend a certain amount of money into the economy – thereby reducing the need for taxation.

 

If, on the other hand, a tendency to inflation is detected, money would be ‘retired’. The authority would command the government to destroy a certain amount of money gained by taxation.

 

NO REFORM?

 

Many who argue that reform is undesirable say that conflict, robbery and warfare are an inherent part of human behaviour and high concentrations of power are necessary to protect nations from each other. This is very similar to the American ‘gun lobby’ argument: that individuals need sophisticated weaponry to defend themselves. Both arguments are rooted in the self-interest of those who make them. The answer to both is that an equitable and effective rule of law may preserve peace so that we can get on with living in conditions of freedom.

 

The challenge is to build effective and equitable systems of law locally, nationally and internationally and thereby create a world community in which robbery, deceit, war and so forth are minimized. To give up on this is to accept savagery. Many individuals who take this position positively relish savagery.

 

HOW POSSIBLE IS REFORM?

 

There is no point belittling the problem. We live in a system that’s tailor-made to end civilization as we know it by giving power to those who abuse it. At present, there seems little hope for reform. No powerful interest group wants reform, even though debt and inter-related problems have been growing faster than ever.[28] Elites chase money and power – and bank-money fuels the chase.[29]

 

Nervous and dependent middle classes, frightened of rocking the boat, avoid thinking about uncongenial truths; and (by definition) they are doing quite well under the present system.

 

Further down the social hierarchy, a variety of feelings may stop people from protesting: helplessness, exclusion, apathy, ignorance of how the system works. In addition, most people are fully engaged with making ends meet.

Still others feel complacent or assume they won’t be able to understand; yet others are bought off with subsistence provisions and diverted by mass entertainment. The Roman Empire collapsed because no simple ideology of reform developed to reverse its drift to self-destruction.[30] A similar situation exists today: a smattering of would-be reformers, powerless to do anything, is in any case divided over what should be done; and most people are kept in carefully-nurtured ignorance of how the system works.

 

HOPEFUL SIGNS

 

There are, however, some hopeful signs and possibilities emerging. On the one hand, more and more people are becoming aware that the system is kleptocratic. Banks and finance interests are becoming increasingly – and more obviously – toxic drivers of inequality. Backed by state guarantees, they behave ever more greedily and irresponsibly. They invest more in asset-speculation than in productive investment. Their insolvency is becoming more obvious, more well-known, and more of a threat to the rest of us.

 

People in the banking world itself are becoming aware that the system needs reforming; and that their once-respected status in the world has changed. Recently I questioned a leading banking lawyer whether he thought banking law should be reformed. ‘I certainly do!’ he said. I asked if he agreed with my definition of bank-created money: ‘the greatest system of kleptocracy ever invented and foisted on the human race’. ‘Do you know,’ he said, ‘that is exactly how I think of it!’

 

His opinion corresponds with the opinions of many respected historical figures: for instance, 2nd and 3rd American Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (some of their opinions are quoted in Chapter Six). The insights of people like Jefferson and Adams have long been ignored or neglected: maybe it is time now for them at last to take centre stage. Their predictions have taken many years to come true, but today they are undeniably valid.

 

Today, possibilities that could lead towards major reform are happening all by themselves. For instance, payment systems outside banks are proliferating; but they have to use money created by banks, because bank-money dominates the world.

 

This domination is not an outcome of the market-place: banks enjoy unfair advantages. Besides their legal advantages, being able to create money as fake debt, banks are supported by huge and expensive state apparatuses. Licensing restricts their number; regulation prevents them from self-destructing; corporate status protects shareholders from possible bad outcomes of trading on a ‘mass of current obligations and a shoestring of equity’;[31] and government support underwrites their losses.

 

As already mentioned, because of these advantages, banks can out-compete other kinds of money by sharing some profits with customers. They provide some services free of charge (for instance, cash machines) and pay for others (such as storing money long-term). Alternative currencies cannot compete in the market-place with the privileges and advantages of banks.[32]

 

Truths are emerging through the cracks in the system: for instance, central banks are beginning to distance themselves from the results of money-creation by emphasizing that they do not create the money supply: commercial banks do.[33]

 

One possible route towards reform would be for central banks – even one central bank – to issue ‘pure’ money, and to allow ordinary people to hold accounts. The Bank of England’s intention to give ‘non-bank Payments Service Providers’ access to its settlement system perhaps signifies a move in this direction (until now only banks have hitherto had access to this, the central payment ledger of the British economy).[34]

 

A pioneering example of a new money system, excluding and avoiding bank-created money completely, might open the eyes of many to the possibilities of a more just and prosperous world.

 

And that would surely be a good thing. And on this, hopefully hopeful, note, the book ends.

[1] See for instance Ephraim Lipson, The Growth of English Society (1949) p. 191.

[2] For an example of this principle at work within the present system, see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/31/preston-hit-rock-bottom-took-back-control

[3] The question has been asked many times: ‘When governments have the power to create money, why do they borrow money created by banks – at great expense to taxpayers, and at great profit to richer citizens?’ William F. Hixson, It’s Your Money (1997) p.114: ‘The very idea of a government, that can create money for itself, allowing banks to create money which the government then borrows and pays interest on, is so preposterous that it staggers the imagination.’ The standard economist’s answer is that governments invariably create too much money. A more genuine answer might be: when governments and plutocrats cooperate, power increases for both. Henry C. Simons’ solution to this problem is outlined below.

[4] Edmund Burke: ‘the people have no interest in disorder. When they do wrong, it is their error and not their crime. But with the governing part of the state, it is far otherwise. They may certainly act ill by design, as well as by mistake.’ Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770).

[5] Acton, Letters to Mary Gladstone, pp. 49-50. For thoughts on more inclusive democracy see Chapter 7, In the Name of the People by Ivo Mosley, 2013.

[6] Democracy would be revitalized if representatives were chosen in popular assemblies at grass-roots level, where they would be known personally to those who choose them. Acton: ‘Where the extent of the electoral district obliges voters to vote for candidates who are unknown to them, the election is not free. It is managed by wire-pullers, and by party machinery, remote from the electors.’ History of Freedom and Other Essays, page 97. See also Chapter 7, In the Name of the People by Ivo Mosley, 2013.

[7] I can’t help repeating here this quote from Adam Smith: ‘All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.’ Wealth of Nations (1776) Book III, Chapter IV.

[8] In Keynes’ (somewhat hopeful and somewhat overstated) words, ‘The love of money as a possession – as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life – will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.’ From ‘Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren’ (1930).

[9] Because every jurisdiction incorporates laws supporting the buying and selling of debt in a slightly different way, the details of legal reform would be different in each. Reform would emerge from accepting the principle and then applying it – much as slavery was abolished in most countries during the 19th century.

[10] https://theweek.com/articles/626620/how-john-maynard-keynes-most-radical-idea-could-save-world

[11] The London Debt agreement of 1953 did roughly the same for Germany’s foreign debts. These reductions were followed by the most dramatic economic recovery in recorded history. Soon, however, the cycle began again; for there had been no fundamental reform, only adjustment. The sequence of reforms which made this possible is seldom referred to by economic historians. Further reforms to reduce the wealth of great landowners and industrialists and ‘equalize the burden’ were, interestingly, abandoned. Alan Kramer, The West German Economy, 1945-1955 (1991).

[12] Today, banks pay depositors to let their money sit idle because it maintains their supply of ‘reserves’. Without reserves, a bank cannot function in today’s system, in which banks compete and cooperate (a monopoly banking system would not need reserves). When debt from a bank (i.e. money) moves from one bank to another, ‘reserve’ moves to square the accounts.). For a more detailed explanation, see Joseph Huber, Sovereign Money pp. 70-1 (note16). Sidney Homer noted in his classic tome on interest rates that once banks adopted fractional reserve, ‘instead of charging a fee for deposits, they began to pay interest on deposits.’ A History of Interest Rates (1977) p.148. Benjamin Franklin also noted the same (Works, vol. 5 (1906) pp 12-14.)

[13] Transferring bank-money today is complex and expensive for banks, requiring a great deal of ancillary activity. Joseph Huber, Sovereign Money (2017) pp. 64-67.

[14] This taps into a long debate about the amoral demands of corporations. Johannes Andreae (c.1270–1348) argued: How can you trust a creature that cannot be shamed or punished? F.W. Maitland (1850-1906) wished to write a book on ‘the damnability of corporations’ before his life was cut short.

[15] Neither group – politicians nor finance-workers – seem to understand much about how money is created.

[16] See for instance Ellen Brown, The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity (2013).

[17] The classic text is Irving Fisher, !00% Money downloadable at http://fisher-100money.blogspot.co.uk/

[18] Lawrence White, Competition and Currency (1992); George A. Selgin, The Theory of Free Banking (1988) downloadable at Liberty Fund.

[19] See Positive Money publication DIGITAL CASH: Why Central Banks Should Start Issuing Electronic Money by Ben Dyson & Graham Hodgson (2016); and Joseph Huber, Sovereign Money (2017).

[20] Thomas H. Greco, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender (2001); Bernard Lietaer, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity (2013).

[21] Jonathan McMillan, The End of Banking – Money, Credit and the Digital Revolution (2014).

[22] Bank of England Staff Working Paper 605 (2016) proposes a form of ‘digital cash’ to be created as debt: downloadable at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/research/Documents/workingpapers/2016/swp605.pdf

[23] For instance, as banking became more heavily regulated, the phenomenon of shadow banking emerged. ‘Banking that is not or only lightly regulated is often called shadow banking. Within a few decades, shadow banking became more important than traditional banking.’ Jonathan McMillan, The End of Banking – Money, Credit and the Digital Revolution (2014).

[24] For the Cobden Centre, see: Jesús Huerta De Soto, Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles (2009), Chapter 9. For Positive Money, see: Sovereign Money: An Introduction by Ben Dyson, Graham Hodgson & Frank van Lerven, Chapter 5. For Joseph Huber, see: Sovereign Money (2017) pp. 170-4.

[25] A different solution is outlined in Huber op.cit. p. 172.

[26] See Henry C. Simons, ‘Rules versus Authorities in Monetary Policy’ The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 44, No. 1. (Feb. 1936), pp. 1-30; reprinted in Economic Policy for a Free Society (1948). ‘The importance of rules, and of focussing democratic discussion on general principles of policy, calls for emphasis… only by adherence to wise rules of action can we escape a political opportunism which jeopardizes and destroys what we wish most to protect and to preserve.’ (p. 202). See also Lectures On Economic Principles by Dennis Robertson, Vol III Chapter 2 (1959).

[27] When the value of money alters, some win, some lose. For instance: if money goes down in value (inflation), debtors get an advantage. If money goes up in value (deflation), creditors get an advantage.

[28] http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-investing-quarterly-debt-20160710-snap-story.html

[29] Bad conscience seems to give rise to nothing more than a culture of escapism and/or negativity

[30] Alföldy, The Social History of Rome (1988) Chapter 7.

[31] Economic Policy for a Free Society (1948) p. 198. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.263017.

[32] Privately-created digital currencies such as bitcoin are, at present, mostly vehicles for speculation.

[33] The German central bank has acknowledged this recently (to declare itself not responsible for creating too much money): http://www.bundesbank.de/Redaktion/EN/Topics/2017/2017_04_25_how_money_is_created.html?startpageId=Startseite-EN&startpageAreaId=Teaserbereich&startpageLinkName=2017_04_25_how_money_is_created+397964.

[34] www.endofbanking.org/fintech-revolution-in-the-united-kingdom/ and http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2016/speech914.pdf