Fractional reserve banking

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pages: 310 words: 90,817

Paper Money Collapse: The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown by Detlev S. Schlichter

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bank run, banks create money, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, currency peg, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, inflation targeting, Kenneth Rogoff, Long Term Capital Management, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, open economy, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, price mechanism, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, risk tolerance, savings glut, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Y2K

Table of Contents Cover Title page Copyright page Dedication Epigraph Foreword Acknowledgments Prologue: The Brave New World of Elastic Money Inelastic versus Elastic Background on the “Reasoning” New Infrastructures and Policies Why I Wrote This Book This Book’s Setup A Note on Pronouns in the Text Part One: THE BASICS OF MONEY Chapter 1 The Fundamentals of Money and Money Demand The Origin and Purpose of Money The Demand for Money The Functions of Money The Unique Position of the Paper Money Producer The Monetary Asset versus Other Goods Chapter 2 The Fundamentals of Fractional-Reserve Banking Money Supply without Money Demand Money as an Enhancer of Lending Activity The Origin and Basics of Fractional-Reserve Banking Relinquishing Ownership of Your Money to the Bank Misconceptions about Fractional-Reserve Banking The Stability of Fractional-Reserve Banking Fractional-Reserve Banks, the State, and the Economists The Desire for Elastic Money Summary Part Two: THE EFFECTS OF MONEY INJECTIONS Chapter 3 Money Injections without Credit Markets Even, Instant, and Transparent Money Injection Even and Nontransparent Money Injection Uneven and Nontransparent Money Injection Chapter 4 Money Injections via Credit Markets Consumption, Saving, and Investing Interest Money Injection via the Loan Market The Process in More Detail Policy Implications of the Austrian Theory Summary Part Three: FALLACIES ABOUT THE PRICE LEVEL AND PRICE LEVEL STABILIZATION Chapter 5 Common Misconceptions Regarding the Price Level The Price Level and Monetary Stability A Historical Perspective on Price Level Stability Why Would Commodity Money Be Unstable?

Whatever the reason, the supply of money is not regulated by market forces, such as the interplay of cost of production and consumer demand that operates in the markets for all other goods and services. Once paper money has been established, the production can proceed practically without cost and without regard for money demand. The Stability of Fractional-Reserve Banking It is evident that the practice of fractional-reserve banking involves risks to the banks. Fractional-reserve banks issue claims against themselves that they know they are unable to meet. Every fractional-reserve bank is at risk of bankruptcy if too many depositors ask for their money back. Their solvency thus depends on accurately predicting the probability that a larger than usual amount of these claims could be presented at the same time. It is not unreasonable to assume that over time banks will learn to manage this risk, to get a handle on the frequency of redemption requests and work out some sort of stable reserve ratio.

The goal of lender-of-last-resort central banks and other measures taken by the state, such as deposit insurance, is not to restrict or impede fractional-reserve banking as such. To the contrary, in aggregate these measures lower the public’s concern about the solvency of individual banks and consequently allow banks to run lower reserve ratios than would be possible in an uninhibited decentralized banking market. But an alternative view about the innate instability of fractional-reserve banking exists. This is the view that fractional-reserve banking is not inherently unstable because the bankers keep making mistakes and cannot control their business risk, but that fractional-reserve banking itself adds to overall economic instability and is thus to a large degree responsible for the periodic recurrence of recessions, which leads then to the public’s concerns about the stability of banks and aversion to fiduciary media.


pages: 248 words: 57,419

The New Depression: The Breakdown of the Paper Money Economy by Richard Duncan

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asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, deindustrialization, diversification, diversified portfolio, fiat currency, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, income inequality, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, special drawing rights, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization

In order to understand how reserve requirements limited credit creation, it is first necessary to understand how credit is created through Fractional Reserve Banking. Fractional Reserve Banking Most banks around the world accept deposits, set aside a part of those deposits as reserves, and lend out the rest. Banks hold reserves to ensure they have sufficient funds available to repay their customers’ deposits upon demand. To fail to do so could result in a bank run and possibly the failure of the bank. In some countries, banks are legally bound to hold such reserves, while in others they are not. A banking system in which banks do not maintain 100 percent reserves for their deposits is known as a system of fractional reserve banking. In such a system, by lending a multiple of the reserves they keep on hand, banks are said to create deposits.

Therefore, an initial deposit of $100 worth of gold, through the magic of fractional reserve banking, eventually leaves the banking system with $500 of deposits and $400 of credit, while an amount equivalent to the initial deposit is set aside as $100 worth of reserves. The balance sheet of the banking sector would show assets of $500, made up of $400 in loans plus $100 in reserves; and it would show liabilities of $500 made up entirely of deposits. EXHIBIT 1.4 “Money Creation” through Fractional Reserve Banking In the real world, there are a number of other factors that would have to be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, this simplified example is sufficient to demonstrate the process of deposit creation. There are two important points to grasp here. First, fractional reserve banking creates credit as well deposits.

Contents Preface Chapter 1: How Credit Slipped Its Leash Opening Pandora’s Box Constraints on the Fed and on Paper Money Creation Fractional Reserve Banking Run Amok Fractional Reserve Banking Commercial Banks The Broader Credit Market: Too Many Lenders, Not Enough Reserves Credit without Reserves The Flow of Funds The Rest of the World Notes Chapter 2: The Global Money Glut The Financial Account How It Works What Percentage of Total Foreign Exchange Reserves Are Dollars? What to Do with So Many Dollars? What about the Remaining $2.8 Trillion? Debunking the Global Savings Glut Theory Will China Dump Its Dollars? Notes Chapter 3: Creditopia Who Borrowed the Money? Impact on the Economy Net Worth Profits Tax Revenue Different, Not Just More Impact on Capital Conclusion Note Chapter 4: The Quantity Theory of Credit The Quantity Theory of Money The Rise and Fall of Monetarism The Quantity Theory of Credit Credit and Inflation Conclusion Notes Chapter 5: The Policy Response: Perpetuating the Boom The Credit Cycle How Have They Done so Far?


pages: 151 words: 38,153

With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don't Pay Enough by Peter Barnes

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Alfred Russel Wallace, banks create money, basic income, Buckminster Fuller, collective bargaining, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, Mark Zuckerberg, Network effects, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the map is not the territory, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy

Drug companies claim that they use the extra money for research, but in fact they spend far more on marketing than on research. Dean Baker, “Reducing Waste with an Efficient Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit,” Center for Economic and Policy Research Issue Brief, Washington, DC, January 2013, http://www.cepr.net/documents/publica-tions/medicare-drug-2012-12.pdf. 11. For an explanation of fractional reserve banking, see “Fractional reserve banking,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_reserve_banking. 12. For data on financial-industry profits, see Sameer Khatiwada, “Did the financial sector profit at the expense of the rest of the economy? Evidence from the United States,” Discussion paper 206, International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, 2010, figure 1, p. 2, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---inst/documents/publication/wcms_192804.pdf.

By contrast, in the United States, drug companies overcharge because of patents, Medicare is barred from bargaining for lower drug prices, and private insurers add many costs and inefficiencies.10 Not even major reforms won by President Obama in 2010 are likely to change this. Indeed, by expanding coverage, they may actually increase the rent extracted by health-related companies. Or consider our financial sector. Commercial banks, the kind that take deposits and make loans, receive an immensely valuable gift from the federal government: the right to create money. They’re allowed to do this through what’s called fractional reserve banking, which lets them lend, with interest, about ten times more than they have on deposit.11 This gift alone is worth billions. Then there are commercial banks’ cousins, investment banks, which are in the business of trading securities. They can’t mint money the way commercial banks do, but they have tricks of their own. For one, they charge hefty fees for taking private companies public, thus seizing part of the liquidity premium that public trading creates.

If the sovereign today is no longer a king, neither is it a consortium of private banks. It is, according to our Constitution, we the people, as represented by Congress. And in reality, we the people are the backers of our national currency. If banks—or at least big banks—fail, we pick up the pieces. So if anyone should get the benefits from issuing new US currency, it should be us. How do private banks create official US dollars? They do it through a process called fractional reserve banking. If you deposit $1,000, the banking system uses your money as a reserve to lend about $10,000. To make loans beyond your deposit, a bank simply creates the money electronically. As long as it holds about 10 percent of its loans in reserve (in case depositors want to withdraw cash), the bank is in compliance with the law. What’s the problem with this? One is that almost all the money in our economy is owed back to banks with interest.


pages: 287 words: 81,970

The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments by Charles Goyette

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bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, fiat currency, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, housing crisis, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, index fund, Lao Tzu, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, oil shock, peak oil, pushing on a string, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, short selling, Silicon Valley, transaction costs

Now this money with which the Fed purchases these bonds did not exist until just that moment. It was created out of thin air! Of course this creation of new money increases the total supply of money in the nation, thereby devaluing all the money that existed before. Now the plot thickens. America’s banks, regulated by the Federal Reserve, are fractional reserve banks. Recall our first fractional reserve banker/goldsmiths who lent out receipts for more gold than they actually had on deposit—until they got caught, that is. Similarly, fractional reserve banks are allowed to maintain on hand only a fraction of the depositsthathavebeenmadewiththemasareserveagainstwithdrawals. This relies on the assumption that not all the banks’ depositors will come in at once to make withdrawals. The bank can then earn interest income by loaning customer deposits in excess of the amount required to be held in reserve.

By lowering the reserve requirement, it allows banks to loan more money; by raising the fraction of its deposits that must be held in reserve, it causes banks to loan less. Fractional reserve banking multiplies many times over the money increase of the Federal Reserve’s debt monetization. If the recipient of this newly created money on account in its bank withdraws it from the account, the inflation process ends in the amount of the new money created by the Fed. But suppose the recipient leaves the computer credit of new money in its account. The deposit, representing money created out of thin air by the Fed to begin with, is now in a commercial bank. The bank presents this deposit to the Federal Reserve for payment. At this point the bank has increased its reserves with the Fed and, as a fractional reserve bank, it is entitled to lend out several times more money than the amount of the deposit.

See Federal Reserve housing crisis impact of and interest rate cuts Iraq war, cost of and job losses See also specific topics e-gold Elements ETNs Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (2008), operation of Energy independence, myth of Energy trusts, recommendations Enerplus Resources Fund Trust (ERF) Engelhard England coinage debasement, impact of goldsmith as banker inflation and paper money See also Great Britain Erhard, Ludwig Ethanol Euros euro ETF (FXE) replace dollar Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) bond cautions about commodities-based foreign currency-based gold-based nationalization risk oil-based silver-based trading/operation of Exchange-traded notes (ETNs) commodities-based Elements ETNs Fannie Mae China/Japan holdings Federal debt amount of (2009) debt ceiling, increase foreign holders of hidden debt infinite horizon discounted value concept inflation as remedy interest expense on Medicare Part D, unfunded liability example monetizing debt percentage of GDP in trillions Federal deposit insurance Federal Reserve auditing of bailout funds cooling economy, actions for criticisms of system and debt monetization and devaluation of dollar federal funds rate fractional reserve banks inflation, creating by interest rate cuts and monetary policy and mortgage meltdown open market operations and Plunge Protection Team and politicized money public/private nature of secrecy related to stimulating economy, actions for as unconstitutional Federal Reserve Act (1913) Federal Reserve Notes Fiscal policy, defined Fisher, Richard Florin Food production demand, future view See also Commodities as investment Ford, Gerald Foreign currency, hard currencies Foreign currency as investment digital gold currencies exchange-traded funds (ETFs) speculative nature of Foster, Richard S. Fractional reserve banking France dollar to gold conversion request Reign of Terror, economic conditions Franklin, Benjamin Freddie Mac China/Japan holdings Free market economy, versus command economy Friedman, Milton Geithner, Timothy, on Bush bailout, General Accounting Office (GAO), Federal Reserve, auditing by Germany postwar recovery war reparations, inflation as impact of Gold and economic crisis (2008) and hard currencies increasing reserves, global view as money, benefits of.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, liberal capitalism, mega-rich, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor, zero-sum game

A few critics (primarily advocates of gold-backed currency) have called fractional reserve banking a kind of Ponzi scheme, and there is some truth to the claim.5 As long as the real economy of goods and services within a nation is growing, an expanding money supply seems justifiable, arguably necessary. However, units of currency are essentially claims on labor and natural resources — and as those claims multiply (with the growth of the money supply), and as resources deplete, eventually the remaining resources will be insufficient to satisfy all of the existing monetary claims. Those claims will lose value, perhaps dramatically and suddenly. When this happens, paper and electronic currency systems based on money creation through fractional reserve banking will produce results somewhat similar to those of a collapsing Ponzi scheme: the vast majority of those involved will lose much or all of what they thought they had.

However, a single factor may be playing a key role in bringing the age of expansion to a close. That factor is oil. Petroleum has a pivotal place in the modern world — in transportation, agriculture, and the chemicals and materials industries. The Industrial Revolution was really the Fossil Fuel Revolution, and the entire phenomenon of continuous economic growth — including the development of the financial institutions that facilitate growth, such as fractional reserve banking — is ultimately based on ever-increasing supplies of cheap energy. Growth requires more manufacturing, more trade, and more transport, and those all in turn require more energy. This means that if energy supplies can’t expand and energy therefore becomes significantly more expensive, economic growth will falter and financial systems built on expectations of perpetual growth will fail.

Gradually bankers widened the definition of “interest” to include what had formerly been called “usury.” The practice of loaning out receipts for gold that didn’t really exist worked fine, unless many receipt-holders wanted to redeem paper notes for gold or silver all at once. Fortunately for the bankers, this happened so rarely that eventually the writing of receipts for more money than was on deposit became a perfectly respectable practice known as fractional reserve banking. It turned out that having increasing amounts of money in circulation was a benefit to traders and industrialists during the historical period when all of this was happening — a time when unprecedented amounts of new wealth were being created, first through colonialism and slavery, but then by harnessing the enormous energies of fossil fuels. The last impediment to money’s ability to act as a lubricant for transactions was its remaining tie to precious metals.


pages: 348 words: 99,383

The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism Is the World Economy's Only Hope by John A. Allison

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, disintermediation, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, high net worth, housing crisis, invisible hand, life extension, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, moral hazard, negative equity, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, too big to fail, transaction costs, yield curve, zero-sum game

In addition to the risk of the bank’s failing, there is another negative effect: under liquidity pressure, banks can no longer make loans, and this often puts businesses that need to borrow into financial distress, with the result that the whole economic system starts to malfunction. Some Austrian economists have argued against fractional reserve banking (specifically for demand deposits, or checking accounts). They have identified the existence of central banks (like the Federal Reserve) as the primary cause of business cycles and fractional reserve banking as a related factor.1 They have a valid and useful insight. In Chapter 18, on solutions to the financial crisis, I will share with you some ideas for dealing with this issue without losing the benefits of magnifying the economic efficiency of intermediate-size investments and small savings that banks provide. The Federal Reserve and FDIC insurance were both created to deal with the issues associated with the nature of fractional reserve banking. In the short term, these “solutions” help; in the long term, they make the problem far, far worse.

The banking system improves the efficiency of small savings and allows smaller investments to be made. It is vital for small businesses and especially for smaller builders/developers in the real estate market, where local knowledge is essential to risk underwriting. Local knowledge is also of great value in most forms of consumer lending. Economists call the system we have just described fractional Reserve banking. This terminology is appropriate because the banks have only a fraction of the depositors’ money in Reserve, or “on hand.” The rest is invested in loans or bonds. The system obviously has an intrinsic risk that leads to economic volatility. The depositors expect to be able to get their money whenever they want it, and yet the bank does not have everyone’s money on hand. This fact does not matter until some form of panic occurs, and suddenly everyone wants his money.

Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). 18. See George A. Selgin and Lawrence H. White, “How Would the Invisible Hand Handle Money?” Journal of Economic Literature (December 1994), pp. 1718–1749. 19. Deflation can be bad if it simply reflects a change in the long-term length of the monetary yardstick. The problem with a paper money system (fiat money) coupled with fractional reserve banking is that the velocity (turnover) of money becomes a major factor in the amount of usable money in circulation. Paper money systems with central banks (like the U.S. Federal Reserve) encourage banks and other financial intermediaries to increase their leverage, and this creates a greater risk of bank failure, together with a currency multiplier effect that is much larger. If there is not a government agency to rescue private-market banks in difficult times, they will be less leveraged and less vulnerable to failure, so the multiplier effect will be less significant.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

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Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate raider, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, God and Mammon, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, land value tax, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, lump of labour, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

In China, the first paper money (which was actually a kind of bank draft) was in use by the ninth century and circulated as far as Persia.1 In the Arab world, a form of check was in wide use around that time as well. Italian traders used bills of exchange as early as the twelfth century, a practice that spread rapidly and was followed in the sixteenth and seventeenth century by fractional-reserve banking.2 This was a major innovation, since it freed the money supply from the metal supply and allowed it to grow organically in response to economic activity. The detachment of money from metal was gradual. During the fractional-reserve banking era, which lasted several centuries, bank notes were still, at least in theory, backed by metal. Today the era of fractional-reserve banking is over, and money has become pure credit. This is not widely recognized. Many authorities, including most economics textbooks and the Federal Reserve itself,3 still maintain the pretense that reserves are a limiting factor in money creation, but in practice they almost never are.4 Banks’ real constraints on money creation are their total capital and their ability to find willing, creditworthy borrowers—that is, those with either uncommitted earning potential or assets to use as collateral.

If a government can issue currency based on the productive wealth it holds in trust, why can’t a private entity do the same? I ask this question because some monetary reformers think this is a bad idea and have built entire economic philosophies around gold or fiat money systems in which fractional-reserve banking and private creation of credit-money would be prohibited. I will address this issue in some depth because it represents an important line of thinking in the New Economics. Recent proposals by monetary historian Stephen Zarlenga have even found sympathy in the fringes of American politics, notably with Congressman Ron Paul. The abolition of fractional-reserve banking also is part of the philosophies of certain followers of the social credit movement, the Austrian School of economics, and many others. Their logic seemed compelling to me at first, and they provide a very thorough account of the disastrous effects of debt growth in the mid- and late-twentieth century, when money became decoupled from gold.

Major Douglas went even farther by advocating a social dividend to be paid to all citizens. I spent quite a while trying to resolve the question of whether fractional-reserve banking or full-reserve banking is consistent with sacred economics. After wrestling with the formidable complexities of the issue and reading papers going back to the 1930s, one day I gave up and lay down on the couch where, predictably and somewhat to my chagrin, it dawned on me that the two systems are not as fundamentally different as most people think. The confusion, which is rife on the internet, comes on one level from a simplistic and incorrect view of how fractional-reserve banking actually works, and on a deeper level from an artificial and irrelevant distinction between what is conventional and what is real. I present an alternative view in the appendix.


pages: 218 words: 63,471

How We Got Here: A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology and Markets by Andy Kessler

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Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, automated trading system, bank run, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, Bretton Woods, British Empire, buttonwood tree, Claude Shannon: information theory, Corn Laws, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Grace Hopper, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, packet switching, price mechanism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, railway mania, RAND corporation, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, Turing machine, Turing test, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

It just sat around tarnishing. Goldsmiths in London had long before figured out they could lend money against the gold they held, making money on the interest payments. As long as they were careful to only write good loans, and not everyone asked for their gold back at the same time, this so-called “fractional reserve banking” was a hugely profitable business. Well, the Bank of England existed to make money for its secretive shareholders. So it implemented this goldsmith sleight of hand, and jumped into fractional reserve banking in a big way, by issuing loans, sometimes for 10 times as much gold as it had on hand, mainly to the government. These loans were secured by future tax payments. The more gold in their reserves, then the more loans they could write. Mercantilism was the government’s plan to stock those reserves with lots of gold, so it selfishly could borrow more.

John Law proved economists shouldn’t be businessmen and his reputation killed the Real Bills Doctrine. Even when “invisible hand” Adam Smith backed Real Bills the Bullionists weren’t swayed. Too bad. Real Bills was only slightly flawed in that it didn’t check the amount of speculative loans a bank could issue, since loans are the source of bank profits. A floating reserve requirement, putting limits on fractional reserve banking in good times, could have fixed that flaw. Perhaps a Real Bills Doctrine could automate the creation of money supply today, in a modern non-gold standard world. But Reserve Bank chairmen have too much fun adjusting interest rates and turning on and off money supply at their whim to entertain the thought. Inflation raged throughout the Restriction period, up until 1814, helping the Bullionist’s argument that a strong gold standard would hold off inflation.

Still, there was another nine years of deflation until 1830, most likely because the gold exchange rate had been fixed for the last century thanks to Sir Isaac and prices during the war had gotten out of whack and needed 15 full years to adjust. How strange. In times of peace, banknotes are not trustworthy enough and must be backed by gold in reserves, but in times of war, when nobody trusts anyone, banknotes are based on pure fiat, trust out of thin air. Welcome to the backwards world of banking. As an aside, it is bizarre that fractional reserve banks, which describe just about every bank in existence today, are basically FOOL’S GOLD 81 bankrupt. A deposit in a bank is an asset for you and me, but it’s a liability for the bank, since it owes us the money. But then the bank lends out the depositors’ money as loans, and those loans are a bank’s assets. Banks almost always have “assets” less than “liabilities,” and therefore a negative net worth.


pages: 444 words: 151,136

Endless Money: The Moral Hazards of Socialism by William Baker, Addison Wiggin

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Andy Kessler, asset allocation, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, break the buck, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital asset pricing model, commoditize, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, mega-rich, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, naked short selling, negative equity, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, reserve currency, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, time value of money, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra, young professional

Seventeenth century goldsmiths of England learned that paper exchangeable for their inventory of gold might not be presented for redemption regularly, so they could earn interest income and in fact manufacture money up to the point that the redemption of notes would not exceed the supply of gold behind 38 ENDLESS MONEY them.1 Adherents of the Austrian theoretical monetary framework, such as the economist (and historian) Murray N. Rothbard, view this as counterfeiting. The issue of counterfeiting was swept aside legally through British court cases (Carr v. Carr in 1811 and Devaynes v. Noble in 1816).2 By the 19th century it was generally accepted that banks could continuously pyramid loans against deposits, making fractional reserve banking the principle mechanism by which money could be created in the economy. Some point out that systems of circulating receipts for physical goods constituted paper money well before this time. In the medieval era families such as the Riccis and the Medicis extended credit to customers and accepted an additional fee for the time value of money, but the paper this created was not expanded beyond the value of goods sold.

The practice of using credit as currency had actually begun in England. Charles I borrowed gold on deposit from merchants at the mint to help finance a civil war. After this gold was returned, merchants sought to avoid the state’s involuntary usage of their wealth by keeping it at goldsmiths instead, who issued receipts for the inventory. The receipts were used as a form of currency and were issued in excess of the gold held, thus giving birth to “fractional reserve” banking at about the same time as the Massachusetts colony began its paper currency system. This expansion of credit built upon a hard base such as the goldsmith’s gold stock is the model of a gold standard such as that adopted by England in 1816 or by the United States in 1879. An important variant was the emergence of state chartered banks as well as the establishment of a central bank. The first national bank was founded by Robert Morris in 1782 (Bank of North America) using appropriated specie loaned to the United States by France.

In actuality, the difference between the low single digit inflation of modern fiat currencies and the natural deflation that would accrue from productivity gains, and from the integration of billions of lowwage laborers into the world economy represents seigniorage transferred to the political beneficiaries of socialized credit. It is a staggeringly large number annually. Taken to the extreme, bank reserve requirements could be set near zero to permit infinite expansion of the money stock. The panic of 2008 may have this very characteristic. The experience of the early 19th century provides some evidence of Rothbard’s observation of how strong the profit opportunity was when the United States first witnessed fractional reserve banking. Howard Bodenhorn, an academic authority on the topic, described the rush to set up banks in that era in two books published this decade. What is interesting is that the process was particularly political and intertwined the state with banks, since charters were granted by legislatures. “Charter mongering” by opportunists was so brazen that “bribery on this scale offends modern sensibilities.”13 Many varieties of enticements were offered to elected officials and whole states or lawmaking bodies, from cash bonuses to participation in guaranteed profits to stock grants, naming just a few.


pages: 272 words: 64,626

Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs by Andy Kessler

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23andMe, Andy Kessler, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, British Empire, business process, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Netflix Prize, packet switching, personalized medicine, pets.com, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social graph, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, wealth creators, Yogi Berra

Economists are notoriously awful at dealing with real numbers. Still, more money needs to be created to fill the bigger bucket. But since no one knows what the velocity of money is, no one knows how much money is needed to keep the economy working just right. So it’s virtually impossible to fill the bucket just up to the rim. The Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank that creates our fiat currency by allowing fractional reserve banks to operate, just guesses and creates what they think is the right amount of money. As we all know, too much money chasing too few goods creates inflation, a situation where prices go up above and beyond what they normally would if the supply of money and the actual wealth in society were perfectly matched. Too much money means a rising price level. That sucks because you get less stuff for the same unit of work.

Even without more gold, goldsmiths and money changers learned long ago to hold gold for their clients, maybe even paying them a small interest rate for the privilege of holding their gold, and then to turn around and lend out money (often creating their own bills of currency) backed by that gold. And not one dollar for each one dollar in gold held. No, no, no. They might as well lend out ten times as much money as the gold held, figuring not all “depositors” would want their gold back at the same time. Money from nothing (and your checks for free). Sort of, anyway. This sleight of hand is called fractional reserve banking, and was an easy (if not a little sleazy, no?) way to increase money supply to, again, make room for productivity and wealth creation. But how much money? No one knows, which is why there were occasionally bank runs and panics and depressions that followed easy credit, one of the hazards of this flimsy system. Sixteen panics since 1812—it’s as American as apple pie! But banking did increase money supply beyond just how much gold could be extracted.

(We can argue about whether the FDIC is really an insurance policy, as they undercharge banks for the privilege of insuring against bank runs, and you and I, the taxpayers, make up the difference. Still, the FDIC is a decent bargain. It’s a backstop to panics—bank run panics anyway!) As long as banks make prudent loans, which, as we’ve seen in 2008, is not the greatest assumption. Twin bargains. Twin safety nets for fractional reserve banking so we don’t have to go back to the stifling days of gold. The Federal Reserve allows banks to post assets in exchange for loans to redeem depositors, in effect making the Fed the lender of last resort to banks. And then there’s the FDIC, basically an insurance policy (up to $100,000 and sometimes $250,000) against bank runs, no matter how bad the bankers are at making loans. And who said banks are private companies?


The Blockchain Alternative: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Theory by Kariappa Bheemaiah

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, balance sheet recession, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, cellular automata, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, constrained optimization, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, deskilling, Diane Coyle, discrete time, distributed ledger, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, inventory management, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nikolai Kondratiev, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, precariat, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, QR code, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Real Time Gross Settlement, rent control, rent-seeking, Satoshi Nakamoto, Satyajit Das, savings glut, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, supply-chain management, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Great Moderation, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Washington Consensus

Contents at a Glance About the Author������������������������������������������������������������������������������ xi About the Technical Reviewer�������������������������������������������������������� xiii Acknowledgments��������������������������������������������������������������������������� xv Introduction����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� xvii ■■Chapter 1: Debt-based Economy: The Intricate Dance of Money and Debt������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 1 ■Chapter ■ 2: Fragmentation of Finance������������������������������������������� 25 ■Chapter ■ 3: Innovating Capitalism������������������������������������������������� 83 ■■Chapter 4: Complexity Economics: A New Way to Witness Capitalism���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 155 ■Appendix ■ A: Bibliography and References��������������������������������� 227 Index���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 241 v Contents About the Author������������������������������������������������������������������������������ xi About the Technical Reviewer�������������������������������������������������������� xiii Acknowledgments��������������������������������������������������������������������������� xv Introduction����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� xvii ■■Chapter 1: Debt-based Economy: The Intricate Dance of Money and Debt������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 1 An obsession with cash�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 2 Fractional Reserve banking and Debt-based money������������������������������ 4 Our Waltz with Debt������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10 How much debt is too much debt?������������������������������������������������������� 17 Shadow banking and systemic risk������������������������������������������������������ 19 Rethinking debt-based capitalism�������������������������������������������������������� 22 ■Chapter ■ 2: Fragmentation of Finance������������������������������������������� 25 The Fuzziness of Financialisation��������������������������������������������������������� 25 Financialization and the Innovation of Risk������������������������������������������� 28 TBTF������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 30 #Ending TBTF���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 33 A new way of looking at fragmentation������������������������������������������������ 41 Sharding������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 44 Using the Skeleton Keys������������������������������������������������������������������������ 60 The enemy of my enemy is my friend��������������������������������������������������� 65 vii ■ Contents Challenges and Solution Pathways������������������������������������������������������� 67 Digital Identity and KYC������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 67 Scalability��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 ■Chapter ■ 3: Innovating Capitalism������������������������������������������������� 83 Reviewing the current definition of capitalism������������������������������������� 83 A Changing Market Structure���������������������������������������������������������������� 92 Lending and Payments�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 94 Trade Finance���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 98 Regulating Regulation������������������������������������������������������������������������� 105 Accounting Jiggery Pokery����������������������������������������������������������������� 106 Policies for a cashless future�������������������������������������������������������������� 112 Centralized Government Money Issuance and the Cashless Economy������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 119 Fiat currency on a Blockchain������������������������������������������������������������� 123 Multiple currencies in a cashless environment����������������������������������� 130 One digital money to rule them all—Fiscal Policy instead of Monetary Policy?

When the country is a large importer, it can also find its currency being used as a peg by other dependent economies, as is with the case with the US dollar and the Euro.5 As the value of a currency is based on supply and demand of the currency, a question that arises is with respect to the manner in which the main drivers of money creation are adjusted in a free market. In order to understand this concept, we need to refresh our understanding of fractional banking, inflation, and the role played by central and commercial banks. Fractional reserve banking and debt-based money To understand the concept of fractional banking it is important to first acknowledge that although central banks and governments belong to the same ilk and work in unison with respect to the issuance of sovereign coin, it is the central bank that actually influences how much money to create based on the inflation targets and the interest rate. As of February 2015, 13 nations have pegged their currencies to the US Dollar and 17 to the Euro.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the minimum amount of capital to be held by a commercial bank (Group 1 or Group 2) is rounded off to around 10% of its total capital. The capital percentage to be held at the central bank would then be calculated as: Capital Requirement = Tier 1 Capital + Tier 2 Capital ³10% Banks assets weighted according to Risk This 10% minimum requirement is the basis of fractional reserve banking. What it shows is that according to the rules stated by the BIS, a bank only needs to have a Established on May 17, 1930, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is the world’s oldest international financial organization. The BIS has 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world that together make up about 95% of world GDP. (Source: http://www.bis. org/about/) 9 Tier 1 capital generally consists of common stock and disclosed retained earnings.


pages: 182 words: 53,802

The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Banks by Ann Pettifor

Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, clean water, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mobile money, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Satyajit Das, savings glut, secular stagnation, The Chicago School, the market place, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail

Sadly, the Right are more effective at channelling public anger into the blaming of immigrants, asylum seekers and other bogeymen. And as worrying, sections of the so-called Left are channelling anger at bankers into neoclassical economic policies for resolving the crisis. Some of these proposals for ‘reform’ of the banking system are also discussed in this book. They take the form of ‘fractional reserve banking’, the nationalisation of the money supply and the pursuit of ‘balanced budgets’ for governments. These are policies which owe their origins to the Chicago School and to Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. They would have devastating impacts on the working population and those dependent on government welfare. So this book challenges the flawed, if well-meaning, approaches of civil society organisations that are steering many on the Left into, to my mind, an intellectual dead-end.

For private commercial bankers operating within a monetary economy, the relevant consideration is not the availability of existing savings, but the viability of the borrower, her project, her collateral and the assessment of whether the project will generate income with which she can repay the credit/debt. And yes, the Bank of England confirmed that in a monetary economy the money multiplier (the percentage of deposits that banks are required to hold as reserves against lending) is an incorrect account of the lending process. Bank lending is not constrained by ‘reserves’. The assumption that banks hold reserves equal to a fraction of their lending – ‘fractional reserve banking’ – is wrong. Bank ‘reserves’ are not savings in the sense we understand them. They are resources (resembling an overdraft) made available only to the bankers licensed by the central bank. They are used to facilitate the ‘clearing’ process for settling deposits and liabilities between banks at the end of each day. Central bank reserves never leave the banking system to enter the real economy.

The purpose must be to ensure that lending is managed to largely preclude speculation, and that decisions about the availability of finance and the setting of interest rates are regulated in such a way as to not discriminate against ‘the makers’ but instead to serve the interests of society, the economy and the ecosystem as a whole. Private deficits cannot finance economic activity The system of fractional reserve banking so enamoured of monetary reformers, implies that bankers would only be allowed to lend the savings or deposits lodged in their vaults by savers or depositors. We know from recent experience that the private sector can move into deficit: that the private sector’s expenditure can exceed income, leading to a fall in savings. Back in 2003, Professor Wynne Godley explained how the financial balance of the US private sector moved from ‘its historically normal range of about 3 to 4 percent of GDP, to a wholly unprecedented minus 5.5 percent of GDP in the third quarter of 2000 … and in the fourth quarter of 2002 was still minus 1.1 percent, implying that private expenditure at that point was still higher than private income.’20 In these circumstances and under proposed Sovereign Monetary reforms, negative savings rates imply that lending will have to contract to the same negative rates as savings.


pages: 328 words: 92,317

Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to Radical Capitalism by David Friedman

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back-to-the-land, Fractional reserve banking, hiring and firing, jitney, laissez-faire capitalism, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, means of production, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

Hundred percent reserve banks, which must charge their customers for the service of holding their money, become an unattractive alternative. The result is a system in which money consists partly of physical commodities (privately minted gold coins) or claims on physical commodities (warehouse receipts) circulating as currency, partly of circulating claims against private fractional reserve banks (bank notes) and partly of non-circulating claims against such banks (checking accounts). This assumes that the fractional reserve banks can offer depositors a reasonable certainty of being able to get their money back if they want it. Most criticisms of private fractional reserve systems depend on their being either unable or unwilling to do so. It is often argued that such a system is inherently unstable; a run due to rumors of weakness in one bank persuades many depositors to withdraw their money, and since the banking system as a whole has obligations much larger than its reserves the banks are unable to pay and the system collapses.

The depositors could lose their money only if the bank's net liabilities exceeded the combined fortunes of the partners. Several of the banks did fail, but in most cases the depositors were paid off in full. Another alternative for a private fractional reserve bank, and one used by the Scottish banks, is an option clause. The banks issued notes guaranteeing the bearer "one pound sterling on demand, or in the option of the directors one pound and six pence sterling at the end of six months after day of demand." The customer, by accepting such a note, accepts the bank's right to temporarily suspend payment, provided it pays interest during the interval. Even if private fractional reserve banks can be stable, will they choose to be? Once a bank has built up a reputation for reliability it might pay it to convert that reputation into cash by vastly expanding its deposits without any adequate backing, and then convert that cash from an asset of the corporation to a private asset of its owners and officers, leaving the depositors with a worthless shell.


pages: 363 words: 107,817

Modernising Money: Why Our Monetary System Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed by Andrew Jackson (economist), Ben Dyson (economist)

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bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, land reform, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies

Taken together, the reforms end the practice of ‘fractional reserve banking’, a slightly inaccurate term used to describe a banking system where banks promise to repay all customers on demand despite being unable to do so. In late 2010 Mervyn King discussed such ideas in a speech: “A more fundamental, example [of reform] would be to divorce the payment system from risky lending activity – that is to prevent fractional reserve banking … In essence these proposals recognise that if banks undertake risky activities then it is highly dangerous to allow such ‘gambling’ to take place on the same balance sheet as is used to support the payments system, and other crucial parts of the financial infrastructure. And eliminating fractional reserve banking explicitly recognises that the pretence that risk-free deposits can be supported by risky assets is alchemy.

A further aspect of the reforms that could benefit the environment is the removal of the growth imperative in capitalist economies, as described in section 5.4. This would allow the kind of steady state economy favoured by many environmentalists. Indeed, one of CASSE’s (the Centre for the Advancement of Steady State Economics) fifteen policies for achieving a steady state economy is to “Overhaul banking regulations, starting with gradual elimination of fractional reserve banking, such that the monetary system moves away from a debt structure that requires continuous economic growth.” Why does a reformed system lessen the growth imperative? First, in a reformed system inequality should be lower as ‘rent’ is no longer being paid on the entire money supply. Lower inequality should lower borrowing and working hours by people previously attempting to ‘keep up with the Joneses’’.


pages: 113 words: 37,885

Why Wall Street Matters by William D. Cohan

Apple II, asset-backed security, bank run, Bernie Sanders, bonus culture, break the buck, buttonwood tree, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, financial innovation, financial repression, Fractional reserve banking, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, money market fund, moral hazard, Potemkin village, quantitative easing, secular stagnation, Snapchat, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, too big to fail, WikiLeaks

Doing so because you are angry at the behavior of a small misbehaving subset of bankers would be akin to the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”—a massive overreaction to an entirely fixable problem. Most people think banks and bankers get rich by not doing very much except moving money around and taking their cut. So let’s get clear on what, exactly, banks actually do. Commercial banks—places with physical branches where customers can deposit and cash checks and keep savings—engage in what is known as “fractional reserve banking,” which sounds perplexing, I know. But the essential idea of it is simple: You keep your money at the bank by having a check directly deposited into an account or by going into a bank branch and depositing a check or cash into an ATM or with a bank teller. These days, of course, you can also use your iPhone to deposit checks. In return, the bank makes you two basic promises: One, and most important, is that your money will be there for you whenever you want to get it out; and, two, is that the bank will pay you what amounts to a small fee—these days a very small fee—for the use of your money, in the form of so-called interest payments.

Deciding whether or not to lend money, based on the credit risk posed by the borrower, is a delicate, decidedly nontrivial balancing act. In many ways, banking is the ultimate confidence game: The word “credit” derives from the Latin credere, which means “to believe” or “to trust.” If a banker makes a loan, he or she believes that the borrower will pay the loan back with a sufficient level of interest (and fees) to allow the bank to make a profit. Talk about an act of faith! With ups and downs, this system of fractional reserve banking, incredibly, works fine until it doesn’t. If we all start to fear that somehow we won’t be able to get our money out of the bank when we want it, panic can set in very quickly. That panic becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing the bank to fail because the ensuing stampede drains the bank’s cash, or its ability to borrow, and it can no longer guarantee that we can get our money when we want it.


pages: 524 words: 143,993

The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--And Have Still to Learn--From the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

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air freight, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fragmentation, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, very high income, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

The ideas of the Chicago Plan for monetary and financial reform, or similar radical rearrangements, are, as Mervyn King argues, also intellectually compelling: Another, more fundamental, example [of reform] would be to divorce the payment system from risky lending activity – that is to prevent fractional reserve banking … In essence these proposals recognise that if banks undertake risky activities then it is highly dangerous to allow such ‘gambling’ to take place on the same balance sheet as is used to support the payments system, and other crucial parts of the financial infrastructure. And eliminating fractional reserve banking explicitly recognises that the pretence that risk-free deposits can be supported by risky assets is alchemy. If there is a need for genuinely safe deposits the only way they can be provided, while ensuring costs and benefits are fully aligned, is to insist such deposits do not coexist with risky assets.30 A system that is based, as today, on the ability of profit-seeking institutions to create money as a by-product of often grotesquely irresponsible lending is irretrievably unstable.

But the issue of the link between money and finance is central and must be addressed. Chapter Seven will look at how to achieve a better financial system. It will start from the reforms that are now being undertaken and ask whether they will be sufficient to generate a secure future. The discussion will then look at further possible reforms, including much higher capital requirements and proposals to eliminate ‘fractional reserve banking’ altogether. The discussion will conclude by arguing that further radical reform is essential, because the current financial system is inherently dependent on the state. That creates dangerous incentives, ultimately quite likely to destroy the solvency of states. A particularly important aspect of the frailty of finance is its role in generating property bubbles. The leveraging up of the stock of land is a consistently destabilizing phenomenon.

Again, the so-called ‘mutual assessment programme’ of the G-20 leading economies may have had some influence on securing a better balanced global adjustment process, but it is a small step towards a more rational net flow of capital.23 Again, liquidationists offer an alternative to the new orthodoxy: eliminate controls on cross-border finance, abolish international financial organizations, and go back on to gold. Many in this camp would also abolish fractional reserve banking. This would reduce backing of bank deposits to the supply of gold and increases in the supply of money to whatever mining would produce. To understand how absurd this is, note that the global stock of bank deposits amounted to $54tn at the end of 2010, while the value of the world’s total stock of gold, including jewellery, at prices at the end of 2013 was about $6tn.24 Full gold backing of the broad money supply would require at least a tenfold rise in prices.


pages: 268 words: 74,724

Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny

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Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, Carmen Reinhart, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve

Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 1912), 341. 2. Rothbard quoted in Ron Paul, “Fractional Reserve Banking, Government, and Moral Hazard,” Financial Sense, July 9, 2012. 3. von Mises, Theory of Money and Credit, 341. 4. Adam Fergusson, When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany (New York: Public Affairs, 2010), 113. My emphasis. 5. Ibid., 87. 6. Ibid., 140. My emphasis. 7. von Mises, Theory of Money and Credit, 379. 8. Lawrence W. Reed, Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2015), 154. 9. Ron Paul, “Fractional Reserve Banking, Government, and Moral Hazard,” Financial Sense, July 9, 2012. 10. Eric Margolis, “The Terror of Chinese Paper,” LewRockwell.com, August 29, 2015. 11.

Over the years, certain economic thinkers have demonized the “fractional lending” just described. They say the process whereby banks lend out the majority of funds entrusted to them is fraudulent, that it multiplies money in a destructive, inflationary fashion. Perhaps surprising is that members of the free-market Austrian school are the biggest critics of banks lending out the majority of deposits they take in. As the late Murray Rothbard, a true-blue Austrian, long ago put it, “Fractional reserve banks . . . create money out of thin air. Essentially they do it in the same way as counterfeiters.”2 Underlying Rothbard’s assertion is a fanciful belief that the alleged “money multiplier” is fact. It’s fiction. Wise minds quickly understand that there’s no such thing as a “money multiplier.” Bank A cannot take in $1,000,000 and lend out $900,000 to an individual who deposits at Bank B, which then lends out $810,000 to an individual who deposits at Bank C, only for Bank C to lend out $729,000 such that $1 million in deposits miraculously turns into nearly $2.5 million.


pages: 471 words: 124,585

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

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Admiral Zheng, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, commoditize, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deglobalization, diversification, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour mobility, Landlord’s Game, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Parag Khanna, pension reform, price anchoring, price stability, principal–agent problem, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

It was in Stockholm nearly half a century later, with the foundation of the Swedish Riksbank in 1656, that this barrier was broken through. Although it performed the same functions as the Dutch Wisselbank, the Riksbank was also designed to be a Lanebank, meaning that it engaged in lending as well as facilitating commercial payments. By lending amounts in excess of its metallic reserve, it may be said to have pioneered the practice of what would later be known as fractional reserve banking, exploiting the fact that money left on deposit could profitably be lent out to borrowers. Since depositors were highly unlikely to ask en masse for their money, only a fraction of their money needed to be kept in the Riksbank’s reserve at any given time. The liabilities of the bank thus became its deposits (on which it paid interest) plus its reserve (on which it could collect no interest); its assets became its loans (on which it could collect interest).

This allows him to introduce two of the core definitions of modern monetary theory: M0 (also known as the monetary base or high-powered money), which is equal to the total liabilities of the central bank, that is, cash plus the reserves of private sector banks on deposit at the central bank; and M1 (also known as narrow money), which is equal to cash in circulation plus demand or ‘sight’ deposits. By the time money has been deposited at three different student banks, M0 is equal to $100 but M1 is equal to $271 ($100 + $90 + $81), neatly illustrating, albeit in a highly simplified way, how modern fractional reserve banking allows the creation of credit and hence of money. The professor then springs a surprise on the first student by asking for his $100 back. The student has to draw on his reserves and call in his loan to the second student, setting off a domino effect that causes M1 to contract as swiftly as it expanded. This illustrates the danger of a bank run. Since the first bank had only one depositor, his attempted withdrawal constituted a call ten times larger than its reserves.

M2 adds savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. M3 is broader still, including eurodollar deposits held in offshore markets, and repurchase agreements between banks and other financial intermediaries. The technicalities need not detain us here. The important point to grasp is that with the spread throughout the Western world of a) cashless intra-bank and inter-bank transactions b) fractional reserve banking and c) central bank monopolies on note issue, the very nature of money evolved in a profoundly important way. No longer was money to be understood, as the Spaniards had understood it in the sixteenth century, as precious metal that had been dug up, melted down and minted into coins. Now money represented the sum total of specific liabilities (deposits and reserves) incurred by banks. Credit was, quite simply, the total of banks’ assets (loans).


pages: 457 words: 128,838

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

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3D printing, Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

The privately owned bank—the BOE was not nationalized until after the Second World War—would lend the Crown £1.2 million, a massive sum for its time, and could then issue banknotes against that debt, effectively relending the money. Then, to give the banknotes value as a de facto currency, the sovereign agreed to accept them in payment of taxes. In one fell swoop, the agreement created a form of paper money effectively endorsed by the sovereign, established fractional-reserve banking—a guiding principle of modern banking that allows regulated banks to relend most of the money they take in as deposits—and conceived the idea of a central bank. The Bank of England had, in effect, been given a license to print money. This was the dawn of modern banking, and it had a profound impact on England’s economy. The new financial architecture not only helped the kingdom develop a top-class naval fleet with which it would rule the world from pole to pole, but also financed the industrial revolution.

Underpinning these transactions are the traditional mainstays of the economy and symbols of national power: banknotes and coins. Banks are required by their regulators—the Fed in the United States, the European Central Bank in the euro zone, the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom—to carry a minimum ratio of cash reserves to deposits in case depositors demand their funds back in paper form. Fractional reserve banking, which allows banks to relend funds and “create” private, credit-fueled money, means the amount of debt in the economy is actually many times these cash balances. Nonetheless, the law requires that there be a proportional amount of cash held dormant within the financial system to sustain all that debt. In sum, our high-tech “electronic” payment system depends on the presence of a minimum amount of paper, which must be secured in vaults with alarm systems, security guards, armored cars, and so on.

But Tradehill lost more than $100,000 due to the complications with Dwolla, and with legal bills mounting, the low trading fees that Tradehill was forced to charge to remain competitive weren’t enough for it to turn a profit. By the summer of 2012 Kenna was unable to meet payroll and knew he had to shut the exchange down. Kenna had to return all the money his customers had entrusted to Tradehill and shut down the exchange. The only other option was to “turn into a fractional-reserve bank,” he said jokingly, referring to the bank model that allows banks to lend out deposits while holding only a fraction of those funds in reserve. “They call it a Ponzi scheme unless you have a banking license.” He’d sunk everything he had into Tradehill. Now, he was broke, so broke that he couldn’t afford rent. He figured the only way he could find shelter was to turn some place into a communal living space.


pages: 464 words: 139,088

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy by Mervyn King

Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Doha Development Round, Edmond Halley, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, German hyperinflation, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, large denomination, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the payments system, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, yield curve, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Even though the degree of alchemy of the banking system was much less fifty or more years ago than it is today, it is interesting that many of the most distinguished economists of the first half of the twentieth century believed in forcing banks to hold sufficient liquid assets as reserves to back 100 per cent of their deposits. They recommended ending the system of ‘fractional reserve banking’, under which banks create deposits to finance risky lending and so have insufficient safe cash reserves to back their deposits.12 The elimination of fractional reserve banking was a proposal put forward in 1933 as the ‘Chicago Plan’.13 The proponents of the plan included the brilliant American monetary theorist Irving Fisher and a distinguished group of economists at Chicago such as Frank Knight, Henry Simons and Paul Douglas; later support came from right across the spectrum of post-war economists, ranging from Milton Friedman to James Tobin and Hyman Minsky.14 Interestingly, John Maynard Keynes was not part of this group, largely because Britain did not experience a banking crisis in the 1930s and his focus was on restoring output and employment.15 More recently, a number of economists have proposed variations on the same theme: John Cochrane from Chicago, Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof from the IMF, the British economists Andrew Jackson, Ben Dyson and John Kay, Laurence Kotlikoff from Boston and the distinguished FT commentator Martin Wolf.16 There are two ways of looking at these radical approaches to banking reform, one by focusing on the banks’ assets and the other on their liabilities.

He closed the Northern Liberator in 1840. 4 Blakey (1839), pp. 58–9. 5 In today’s money roughly equivalent to £5000. 6 In the UK, ring-fencing followed the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking chaired by Sir John Vickers, which reported in 2011, and in the US the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 included the so-called Volcker rule, which outlawed proprietary trading for their own account by banks. 7 Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Regulatory Consistency Assessment Program Analysis of Risk-weighted Assets for Credit Risk in the Banking Book, July 2013. 8 Bingham (2010) relates the story of a case in Britain in which neither the lawyers nor the judges realised that the relevant regulations applying to the case at hand had changed between the date of the alleged offence and the date of the hearing because there was no easy way of finding out. 9 Mansfield (1761). 10 Haldane (2013). 11 Information supplied by the Bank of England. 12 A comprehensive survey of proposals to end fractional reserve banking is Lainà (2015). 13 A six-page memorandum describing the plan was circulated confidentially by Henry Simons to about forty individuals in 1933. 14 Fisher (1936a, 1936b), Friedman (1960), Minsky (1994), Tobin (1985). 15 Keynes was nevertheless scathing about bankers. In his memoir of Keynes published by King’s College, Cambridge, in 1949, G. Wansborough wrote: ‘many of us will remember with what unholy joy we used to read in the Nation his annual review of the speeches of the Bank Chairmen, which he greeted, if I remember his words, as “the twittering of swallows to presage the end of winter”.’

., Four Quartets, 120, 290 emerging economies, 39, 43, 337, 338, 361; export-led growth strategy, 27–8, 30, 34, 319, 321, 324, 349, 356; new institutions in Asia, 349–50; savings levels in, 22–3, 27–8, 29, 30; ‘uphill’ flows of capital from, 30–1, 40, 319; US dollar reserves, 28, 34, 349 ‘emotional finance’ theory, 133–4 Engels, Friedrich, 19 Enron, 117 equity finance, 36, 102, 103, 140, 141, 143, 266, 280; and ‘bail-inable’ bonds, 112; in banking sector, 103, 105, 109, 112, 137–9, 173, 202, 254–9, 263, 268, 280, 368 see also leverage ratios (total assets to equity capital); and limited liability, 107, 108, 109 European Central Bank (ECB), 137, 162, 166, 232, 339; and euro area crisis, 203–4, 218, 224–5, 227–8, 229, 231, 322; and political decisions, 218, 224–5, 227–8, 231–2, 235, 344; sovereign debt purchases, 162, 190, 227–8, 231 European Monetary Union (EMU, euro area), 62, 217–38, 337–40, 342–9, 363–4; creditor and debtor split, 49, 222–3, 230–1, 232–7, 338, 339–40, 342–4, 363–4; crisis in (from 2009), 138, 203–4, 218, 223–31, 237–8, 276, 338, 339–40, 3512, 368; disillusionment with, 234–5, 236, 238, 3444; divergences in competitiveness, 221–3, 228, 231, 232–3, 234; fiscal union proposals (2015), 344; at heart of world disequilibrium, 248, 337; inflation, 70, 221–2, 232, 237; interest rate, 221–2, 232, 237, 335; launch of (1999), 22, 24–5, 218, 221, 306; main lessons from, 237; and political union issues, 218, 220, 235, 237–8, 248–9, 344, 348–9; ‘progress through crisis’ doctrine, 234; prospects for, 232–3, 345–6; sovereign debt in, 162, 190, 224, 226–8, 229–31, 258, 338, 339–40, 342–4; transfer union proposal, 224, 230, 231, 233, 234, 235, 237, 344; unemployment in, 45, 226, 228, 229–30, 232, 234, 345; value of euro, 43, 228–9, 231, 232, 322 European Stability Mechanism (ESM), 228 European Union, 40, 235–6, 237–8, 247, 248–9, 348–9; no-bailout clause in Treaty (Article 125), 228, 235–6; Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), 235, 236 Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), 219, 220 exchange rates: and disequilibrium, 319, 322–3, 329, 331, 364; and EMU, 222, 228–9, 338–9, 363–4; exchange controls, 21, 339; fixed, 20–1, 22–3, 24–5, 72–3, 75–6, 339, 352, 353, 361; floating, 21, 338, 353, 361–2; and ‘gold standard’, 72–3, 75–6; risk of ‘currency wars’, 348; and wage/price changes, 213 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 62, 137, 328 Federal Open Market Committee, 179 Federal Reserve, 45, 65, 74, 137, 157–8, 162, 168–70, 175, 178–9, 320; in 1920s/30s, 192, 326–7, 328, 349; during crisis, 39, 76, 107, 113, 183, 184; discount window, 206; dual mandate of, 167–8; opening of (1914), 60, 62, 159–60, 194–5, 196, 197 Ferrer, Gaspar, 193 Field, Alexander, 355 Financial Conduct Authority, UK, 260 financial crises, 11–12, 34; and demand for liquidity, 65–6, 76–7, 86, 106, 110, 119, 148, 182, 187–92, 194, 201–7, 253–4, 367; differing causes of, 307, 316–17, 327–8; frequency of, 2, 4, 20, 92, 111, 316–17; and ‘gold standard’, 75, 165, 195; and Minsky’s theory, 307–8, 323; narrative revision downturns, 328, 332–3, 356, 357, 58–9, 364; the next crisis, 334–5, 336–8, 353, 370; as test beds for new ideas, 49–50; see also economic history financial crisis (from 2007): articles and books, 1–2, 6; central banks during, 36–9, 64, 65, 76, 113, 118, 158, 159, 162, 181–4, 205, 206, 335; desire to blame individuals, 3, 89–90; effects on ordinary citizens, 6, 13, 41; the Great Panic, 37–8; interest rates during, 150–1, 181, 335; LIBOR during, 150–1; liquidity crisis (2007-8), 35–8, 64–5, 76, 110; money supply during, 181–3; parallels with earlier events, 90–2, 193; post-crisis output gap, 42, 291, 337; short-term Keynesian response, 39, 41, 48, 118–19, 326, 328, 356; ‘small’ event precipitating, 34–5, 323; unanswered questions, 39–43; underlying causes, 16–17, 24–5, 26–39, 40, 307, 319–26, 328; weak recovery from, 43–4, 48, 291–2, 293, 324, 337, 355, 364, 366 financial markets, 64–5, 113, 117–18, 141–5, 149, 184, 199–200, 314–15; basic financial contracts, 140–1; desert island parable, 145–8; and radical uncertainty, 140, 143, 144–5, 149–55; ‘real-time’ trading, 153–4, 284; see also derivative instruments; financial products and instruments; trading, financial financial products and instruments, 24, 35–6, 64, 99–100, 114, 117, 136–7, 258, 278, 288; see also derivative instruments Finland, 159, 279 First World War, 88–9, 153, 164, 178, 200–2, 307; financial crisis on outbreak of, 192–201; reparations after, 340–2, 343, 345–6 fiscal policy, 45, 184, 347–8, 352, 358; and Keynesianism, 78, 181, 292, 300, 356; in monetary unions, 222–3, 235; short-term stimulus during crisis, 39, 118–19, 356 Fisher, Irving, 163, 261 fractional reserve banking, 261 France, 93, 201, 216, 219, 221, 236, 248, 348, 364; and euro area crisis, 228–9, 231, 236, 322; occupation of Ruhr (1923), 340; overseas territories during WW2, 242; revolutionary period, 68, 75, 159 Franklin, Benjamin, 58, 127 Friedman, Milton, 78, 130, 163, 182, 192, 262, 328 Fuld, Dick, 89 futures contracts, 142, 240–1, 295–6 G20 group, 39, 255, 256, 351 G7 group, 37–8, 351 Garrett, Scott, 168–9 Geithner, Timothy, 267 George, Eddie, 176, 330 Germany, 93, 161, 162, 184, 219, 322, 341, 357; Bundesbank, 166, 219, 228, 232; and EMU, 219–22, 224, 227, 228, 230, 231–2, 234–6, 248, 338, 340, 342–3, 345; export-led growth strategy, 222, 319, 363–4; hyperinflation (early 1920s), 52, 68, 69, 86, 158–9, 190; Notgeld in, 201–2, 287; reunification, 219, 342; trade surpluses in, 46, 49, 222, 236, 319, 321, 356, 363–4; WW1 reparations, 340–2, 343, 346 Gibbon, Edward, 63, 164 Gigerenzer, Professor Gerd, 123, 135 Gillray, James, 75 global economy, 349–54, 361; capital flows, 20–1, 22, 28, 29, 30–1, 40, 319, 323; rise in external imbalances, 22–3, 24–5, 27–31, 33–4, 45–7, 48–9, 236, 307, 319–24, 329–30, 338, 364; see also currencies; exchange rates; trade surpluses and deficits Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Faust, 85–6 ‘gold standard’, 72–3, 75–6, 86, 165, 195, 200–1, 216–17, 348, 352 Goldman Sachs, 98, 109, 123, 257 Goodwin, Fred, 37, 89 Grant, James, 327 Great Depression (early 1930s), 5, 16, 20, 158, 160, 226, 348, 355; dramatic effect on politics and economics, 41; Friedman and Schwartz on, 78, 192, 328; and ‘gold standard’, 73, 76; US banking crisis during, 90–1, 108, 116, 201 Great Recession (from 2008), 6, 38–9, 163, 290–2, 326 Great Stability (or Great Moderation), 6, 22, 45–7, 71, 162, 208, 305, 313–14, 318–24, 325–6; alternative strategies for pre-crisis period, 328–33; monetary policies during, 22, 25, 46–7, 315 Greece, 216, 221, 222, 225–31, 338–40, 364; agreement with creditors (13 July 2015), 230–1, 346; crisis in euro area, 223–4, 225–7, 229, 230–1, 236, 258, 338–40; debt restructured (2012), 226–7, 229, 236, 339, 343–4, 346; national referendum (July 2015), 230; sovereign debt, 224, 226–7, 339–40, 342–4, 346–7; Syriza led government, 229, 235 Greenspan, Alan, 157–8, 164, 175, 317 Gulf War, First (1991), 238 Hahn, Frank, 79 Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBoS), 37, 118, 206, 243 Halley, Edmund, 122 Hamilton, Alexander, 188, 202, 215 Hankey, Thomas, 191–2 Hansen, Alvin, Full Recovery or Stagnation?


pages: 576 words: 105,655

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, debt deflation, deindustrialization, disintermediation, diversification, en.wikipedia.org, ending welfare as we know it, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Irish property bubble, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Philip Mirowski, price stability, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, savings glut, short selling, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, unorthodox policies, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

To fully understand what Smith had to say about debt and parsimony, we need to begin with what he said about banking, and go from there to savings, investment, growth, and, perhaps most surprisingly, the necessity of the state engendered by the problems of inequality and class politics and the problem of how to pay for it.27 Adam Smith’s Productive Parsimony For Smith, banking is all about having confidence in the banker. If customers have confidence in a banker’s promissory notes (his paper money), he will then be able to lend out more in paper than he keeps in reserve in gold to cover his withdrawals.28 Today, we call this “fractional reserve banking.” Yet Smith, like Hume, sees money as being unable to affect real variables in the long run, so simply adding paper money to the economy will not lead to growth.29 But if lots of trusted bankers produce more paper money than the economy can absorb, and crucially, if that paper is seen to be “as good as gold”—to use the phrase in its appropriate context—then the gold backing this paper in the bank vault will lack a role at home.

But in the United States, for example, where unions cover less than one in eight workers, such an explanation is simply not credible.54 Moreover, Germany and Sweden, countries with much higher unemployment rates through the business cycle, also have far higher unionization rates. Second, if the only policy on offer is to get the government out of economic affairs completely, then its not clear how one does it short of engaging in a kind of “year zero” purge of the modern economy and polity. Similarly, the notion of relying on “real savings” rather than “artificial credit” would require the abolition of fractional reserve banking—where the bank lends out multiples of its reserves—and therefore an end to, for example, securitization, car loans, education loans, mortgages, and so on. It’s hard to see this as either welfare improving or politically sustainable in any meaningful sense. Third, you don’t have to be a Keynesian to acknowledge that economies do not necessarily self-heal. One of America’s Great Depression–era monetary economists, Irving Fisher, analyzed how, much to his dismay, depressions do not in fact “right themselves” owing to a phenomenon called debt deflation.55 Simply put, as the economy deflates, debts increase as incomes shrink, making it harder to pay off debt the more the economy craters.

Tales of Two Small European Countries,” (Giavazzi), 169, 170, 171, 176, 209–210 Canada fiscal adjustment in, 173 Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, (Schumpeter), 128, 129 Cassel, Gustav, 191 central banks, independence of, 156–158 certificates of deposit (CDs), 234 Chin, Menzie, 11 China, 55 Chowdhury, Anis, 176 Churchill, Winston, 123 and the gold standard, 189 1929 budget speech, 124 Citigroup, 48 Clinton, Bill, 12 Clinton, Hillary, 218 Cochrane, John, 2, 239 Colander, David, 99 collateralized debt obligations, 28, 234 Congressional Research Group, 242 Considine, John, 208 Coolidge, Calvin, 120 Credit Agricole, 87 credit default swaps, 26, 29, 30 Daimler/Mercedes Benz, 132 Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Dennett), 159 De Grauwe, Paul, 86 debt inflation, 150 default as a way out of financial crises, 183 mortgage, 41, 42, 44, 50 risk, 24 sovereign, 113, 210, 241 See also credit default swaps (CDSs) deflation, 240, 241 demand-side economics, 127 See also supply-side economics Denmark, 207, 209 as a welfare state, 214 austerity in, 17, 169–170, 170–171, 179 expansion, 205, 206, 209 fiscal adjustment in, 173 Dennett, Daniel Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 159 derivatives, 27–30 credit default swaps, 27–30 special investment vehicles, 29 See also mortgages; real estate Deutsche Bank, 83 devaluation and hyperinflation, 194 as a way out of financial crises, 75, 173, 208, 213 of currency, 76, 77, 147, 169, 171, 188, 191, 197 Diamond, Peter, 243 disintermediation, 23, 49, 232 Dittman, Wilhelm, 195 Dow Jones Industrial Average, 1, 2–3 Duffy, James, 208 Eatwell, John, 42 Economic and Financial Affairs Council of the European Council of Ministers (ECOFIN), 173, 175, 176 economics Adam Smith, 109 Austrian school of, 31, 144 demand-side, 127 Frieburg school of, 135 Germany’s Historical school of, 143 Keynesian, ix, 39, 54 liberal, 99 London School of, 31, 144 macro, 40 neoclassical, 41 neoliberal, 41, 92 public choice, 166 supply-side, 111 zombie, 10, 234 Economics of the Recovery Program, The, (Schumpeter), 128 Economist, The, 69, 166, 216 efficient markets hypothesis, 42 Eichengreen, Barry, 183, 231 Einaudi, Luigi, 165, 167 Eisenhower, Dwight, 243 Englund, Peter, 211 Estonia austerity in, 18, 103, 179, 216–226, 217 fig. 6.1 Eucken, Walter, 135–136 centrally administered economy, 135–136 transaction economy, 135–136 Euro, 74–75, 77 success or failure of, 78–81, 87–93 European banks austerity and, 87 fall of, 84–87 “too big to bail”, 6, 16 European Bond Market, 1 European Central Bank, 54, 55, 84 and austerity, 60, 122 and bailouts, 71–73 and loans to Ireland, 235 and the success of the REBLL states, 216 emergency liquidity assistance program, 4 limitations of, 87–93 long-term refinancing operation, 4, 86 Monthly Bulletin, June 2010, 176 See also Trichet, Jean Claude European Commission, 122 and austerity, 221 and loans to Ireland, 235 and the success of the REBLL states, 216 European Economic Community, 62–64 European Exchange Rate Mechanism, 77 European Union and austerity, 221 and bailouts, 71–73, 208, 221 influence on Europe, 74–75 Eurozone and current economic conditions, 213 current account imbalances, 78 fig. 3.1 ten-year government bond yields, 80 fig. 3.2 exchange-traded funds (ETFs), 234 Fama, Eugene, 55 Fannie Mae, 121 Farrell, Henry, 55 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 24 Feldstein, Martin, 55, 78 Ferguson, Niall, 72 Figaro, Le, 201 financial repression, 241 Financial Stability Board, 49 Financial Times, 60 Fisher, Irving, 150 Fitch Ratings, 238 Flandin, Pierre-Étienne, 202 fractional reserve banking, 110 France, 4 and Germany’s nonpayment of Versailles treaty debt, 57 and John Law, 114 and the gold standard, 185, 204 assets of large banks in, 6 austerity in, 17, 126, 178–180 and the global economy in the 1920s and 1930s, 184–189 bond rates in, 6 depression in, 201–202 Eurozone Current Account Imbalances, 78 fig. 3.1 Eurozone Ten-Year Government Bond Yields, 80 fig. 3.2 war debts to the United States, 185 See also Blum, Leon; Flandin, Pierre-Étienne; Laval, Pierre; Poincaré, Raymond Freddie Mac, 121 free option, 29 Freiberg school of economics, 135, 136, 138–139 Frieden, Jeffry, 11 Friedman, Milton, 103, 155, 156, 165, 173 G20 2010 meeting in Toronto, 59–62 Gates, Bill, 7, 8, 13 Gaussian distribution, 33, 34 General Theory (Keynes), 126, 127, 145 Gerber, David, 136 Germany, 2, 16 and repayment war damage in France, 200–201 and the gold standard, 185 and the Treaty of Versailles, 185 as an economic leader, 75–78 austerity in, 17, 25, 57, 59, 101–103, 132–134 and the global economy in the 1920s and 1930s, 178–180, 184–189, 186, 193–197 Bismarkian patriarchal welfare state, 137 Bundesbank, 54, 156, 172, 173 capital drain after World War I, 186 Center Party, 194 Christian Democrats, 137, 139 competition, 137–138 economic ideology of, 56–58, 59–60 entrance into world economy, 134–135 Eurozone Current Account Imbalances, 78 fig. 3.1 Eurozone Ten-Year Government Bond Yields, 80 fig. 3.2 fiscal prudence of, 2, 17, 54 founder’s crisis, 134 German Council of Economic Advisors Report, 169 gold standard and, 196 Historical school of economics, 143 hyperinflation in the 1920s, 56–57, 185, 194, 200, 204 industry in, 132–134 See also BASF, Daimler/Mercedes Benz, Krups, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp ordoliberalism in, 101, 131, 133 origins of, 135–137 order-based policy, 136 National Socialists, 194–195 Nazi period in, 136, 196 Social Democratic Party, 140, 194, 195, 204 social market economy, 139 Stability and Growth Pact, 92, 141 stimulus in, 55–56 See also Freiburg school of economics stop in capital flow from United States in 1929, 190, 194 unemployment in, 196 WTB plan, 195, 196 Giavazzi, Francesco, 179, 205, 206 “Can Severe Fiscal Contractions be Expansionary?


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Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, money market fund, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Veblen good, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

And by employing these excess cash reserves to extend credit to customers, the bank transfers temporary ownership of the money to borrowers despite the depositors retaining the right to claim back these same funds and despite the bank providing a guarantee that all deposits can be withdrawn on demand. This leads to a curious position where both depositor and borrower are entitled to control over the same funds simultaneously. If depositors lose confidence in the bank and demand their money back all at once, the bank will be unable to meet its obligations. A run on deposits will follow. Such crises of confidence started in northern Italy in the late Middle Ages when this so-called fractional reserve banking became the norm. A vivid description of how bank runs arose comes from a contemporary Venetian account in the sixteenth century: The following year, 1584, I heard of the failure of the Pisani and Tiepolo bank for a very large sum of money. This was caused chiefly by the bankruptcy of one Andrea da l’Osta, a Tuscan, a Pisan, and a very rich merchant, who had lived in our city for many years.

Big depositors such as companies, pension funds and other financial institutions simply decide not to renew lending lines or certificates of deposit, so an ailing bank finds that its sources of funds dry up. Notwithstanding that, the British bank Northern Rock actually experienced in 2007 an old-style run in which worried retail depositors queued up outside branches to withdraw their money. Either way, the reality is that all money lenders that operate on the basis of fractional reserve banking are inherently technically bankrupt. Hence the quip generally attributed to Henry Ford: ‘It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before morning.’ Bankers are well aware of this fundamental flaw in their business model, which is why appearances are so important in banking, as the account of the rise and fall of Andrea da l’Osta emphasised.

S. 1, 2 Elizabeth II 1 Engels, Friedrich 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Enlightenment 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Enron 1 entrepreneurs 1 environmental damage 1 Epistle to Allen Lord Bathurst (Alexander Pope) 1 Esterházy, Prince Nikolaus 1 European Monetary Union 1 European Union 1, 2, 3, 4 eurozone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Faber, Marc 1 Fable of the Bees, The (Bernard Mandeville) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Facebook 1 Faerie Queene, The (Spenser) 1 Fama, Eugene 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Farmers’ State Alliance (US) 1 fatal embrace 1, 2 Faust (Goethe) 1, 2, 3, 4 Federal Reserve (Fed) 1, 2, 3, 4 Federal Reserve Act (US 1913) 1 Ferguson, Niall 1 feudalism 1, 2, 3 fiat currencies 1 Fidelity Magellan fund 1 financial crisis (2007–08) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 financial intermediation 1 financial services 1 financial weapons of mass destruction 1 Finley, Moses 1 Fitzgerald, F. Scott 1 Ford, Henry 1, 2 Fors Clavigera (John Ruskin) 1 fractional reserve banking 1 France 1, 2, 3 art market 1 taxation 1, 2, 3, 4 François I of France 1, 2, 3 Frankel, Jeff 1, 2 Franklin, Benjamin 1 Frederick the Great of Prussia 1, 2 Freeland, Chrystia 1 French Revolution 1, 2 Frick, Henry Clay 1, 2 Friedman, Milton 1, 2 Fukushima nuclear spill 1 Fuld, Dick 1 fund managers 1, 2, 3 Fürstenberg, Carl 1 Galbraith, J. K. 1, 2, 3, 4 Galenson, David 1, 2 Garber, Peter 1, 2 Gaskell, Mrs Elizabeth 1 Gates, Bill 1, 2 Gauguin 1 General Electric 1, 2 General Theory (Keynes) 1, 2 geo-political uncertainty 1 Germany 1, 2, 3, 4 failure to forgive the debts of others 1 forgiveness of Nazi-era debts 1 inequality 1 manufacturing 1, 2 trade surpluses 1, 2 Weimar republic 1, 2, 3 Gladitz, Charles 1, 2 Glass–Steagall Act (US 1933) 1, 2, 3 Glorious Revolution (England) 1, 2 Goethe 1, 2, 3, 4 Going Off the Rails (John Plender) 1, 2 gold 1 transmutation of base metal into 1 gold rushes 1 gold standard 1 Golden Mean (Aristotle) 1 Goldsmith, Oliver 1, 2, 3, 4 Goolsbee, Austan 1 Gordon, Robert 1 Gorton, Gary B. 1 Gould, Jay 1 Grant, James 1 Grantham, Jeremy 1, 2, 3 Grapperhaus, Ferdinand 1 Graves, Robert 1 Great Crash, The (J.


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Veblen good, Wave and Pay, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

The range of institutions involved in banking has broadened far beyond the fractional reserve system (the Bank of England now uses the phrase “complex financial institution,” not bank), and the financial instruments banks use, such as derivatives and collateralized securities, are formidably complex and varied. Moreover, financial markets now perform many of the services previously performed by banks as financial intermediaries. But even today, fractional reserve banking features prominently in popular criticism of banking, as if this were the essence of what banks do. Fractional reserve banking is often presented not only as fraudulent, but also as inherently destabilizing. An example of the genre is the work of Paul Grignon, a Canadian artist and filmmaker, who made two films under the generic title, Money as Debt, in 2006 and 2009 (Grignon 2006, 2009).30 Grignon argues that the system incentivizes banks to ensure that debts are not only perpetually renewed but also increased.31 Another version of the argument is that because of their need to lend against collateral, the system gives private banks an incentive to allocate credit to property speculation rather than production and divests governments of control over the allocation of credit.

An example of the genre is the work of Paul Grignon, a Canadian artist and filmmaker, who made two films under the generic title, Money as Debt, in 2006 and 2009 (Grignon 2006, 2009).30 Grignon argues that the system incentivizes banks to ensure that debts are not only perpetually renewed but also increased.31 Another version of the argument is that because of their need to lend against collateral, the system gives private banks an incentive to allocate credit to property speculation rather than production and divests governments of control over the allocation of credit. According to this view, it is mistaken even to refer to the practice as fractional reserve banking because the link between banks’ lending and reserves is extremely tenuous (Zazzaro 2002; Arena, Graziani, et al. 2004; Graziani 2009; Ponsot and Rossi 2009). A third version, as proposed by the American Monetary Institute—a monetary reform pressure group established in 1996—argues that the power of money creation should be placed in the hands of government, not private banks.32 The argument hinges on making a clean separation between the business of banking on one side and money creation on the other (Ryan-Collins, Greenham, et al. 2012).

This is where we are today: undecidability, the era of floating theories, as much as floating money” (Baudrillard 1993: 44 n. 3; see also Baudrillard 2001: 53). 23 The terrorist model brings about “an excess of reality” (Baudrillard 2003: 18). 24 In his later analysis, Baudrillard makes the additional point that the towers were an “architectural graphism” embodying capitalism in its digital phase, “a system that is no longer competitive, but digital and countable, and from which competition has disappeared in favour of networks and monopoly” (Baudrillard 2003: 38–39). 25 “The Bernard Madoff story tells us a lot about the nation’s financial mess,” Seattle Times, December 19, 2008. 26 Michael Rowbotham takes a similar line, but in much narrower terms, describing fractional reserve banking per se as a form of legalized counterfeiting (Rowbotham 1998). 27 “Stucco is the triumphant democracy of all artificial signs,” he writes (Baudrillard 1993: 51). 28 As we see in Chapter 8, the idea behind Bitcoin is that no such copies are possible: each Bitcoin is unique. 29 Circulating at speed, speculative currencies are the epitome of an uncontrollable drifting of signs: “a simple play of flotation can ruin any national economy” (Baudrillard 1993: 23).


pages: 823 words: 220,581

Debunking Economics - Revised, Expanded and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave, zero-sum game

TABLE 12.1 The alleged Money Multiplier process ($) In this simple illustration, all the notes remain in the banks’ vaults, while all commerce is undertaken by people electronically transferring the sums in their deposit accounts. Of course, we all keep some notes in our pockets as well for small transactions, so there’s less credit created than the example implies, but the model can be modified to take account of this. This process is also known as ‘Fractional Reserve Banking,’ and it’s the process that Obama, on the advice of his economists, relied upon to rapidly bring the Great Recession to an end. Its failure to work was superficially due to some issues that Bernanke was well aware of,8 but the fundamental reason why it failed is that, as a model of how money is actually created, it is ‘neat, plausible, and wrong.’ The fallacies in the model were first identified by practical experience, and then empirical research.

(Keynes 1936: xxii–xxiii; emphases added) It is therefore difficult to attack neoclassical ‘supply and demand’-oriented models of money as misrepresentations of Keynes. Nonetheless, the post-Keynesian school of thought has made the fundamental importance of money a byword of its analysis. An essential aspect of this has been the empirically based analysis of how money is created (detailed in the previous chapter), which contradicts the conventional fractional reserve banking, ‘Money Multiplier’ model of money formation. Having empirically eliminated one model of money creation, another was needed – but the initial attempts to create one were clumsy. Rather than the ‘vertical money supply curve’ of Hicks’s IS-LM model, some post-Keynesian economists proposed a ‘horizontal money supply curve’ in which banks simply passively supplied whatever quantity of credit money firms wanted, at the prevailing interest rate.

Friedman went on to recommend a lower rate of deflation of 5 percent for expediency reasons (‘The rough estimates of the preceding section indicate that that would require for the U.S. a decline in prices at the rate of at least 5 percent per year, and perhaps decidedly more’ – p. 46), but even this implied a rate of reduction of the money supply of 2 percent per annum – the same rate that he criticized the Fed for maintaining in the late 1920s. 6 These were June 1946 till January 1949, June 1950 till December 1951, 1957/58, June 1974 till June 1975, 1979–82 and December 2000 till January 2001. 7 See en.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken. 8 The minimum fraction that banks can hold is mandated by law, but banks can hold more than this, weakening the multiplier; and the public can decide to hang on to its cash during a financial crisis, which further weakens it. Bernanke considered both these factors in his analysis of why the Great Depression was so prolonged: ‘In fractional-reserve banking systems, the quantity of inside money (M1) is a multiple of the quantity of outside money (the monetary base) […] the money multiplier depends on the public’s preferred ratio of currency to deposits and the ratio of bank reserves to deposits […] sharp variations in the money multiplier […] were typically associated with banking panics, or at least problems in the banking system, during the Depression era.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, women in the workforce

The Cambridge economist Andrew Glyn believed the extraordinary success of the post-war boom could only be explained by ‘a unique economic regime’.22 He described this regime as a mixture of economic, social and geopolitical factors, which operated benignly throughout the upswing until they began to clash and grind in the late 1960s. State direction produced a culture of science-led innovation. Innovation stimulated high productivity. Productivity allowed high wages, so consumption kept pace with production for twenty-five years. An explicit global rules system amplified the upside. Fractional reserve banking stimulated a ‘benign’ inflation which, combined with financial repression, forced capital into productive sectors and kept speculative finance marginal. The use of fertilizers and mechanization in the developed world boosted land productivity, keeping the cost of inputs cheap. Energy inputs were, at the time, also cheap. As a result, the period 1948–73 unfolded as a Kondratieff upswing on steroids.

Those which did not come onshore and become transparent would be treated as the financial equivalent of Al-Qaeda. After a suitable amnesty offer, they would be tracked down and suppressed. These short-term, strategic measures could dismantle the ticking timebomb of global finance, but they do not yet constitute a design for a true postcapitalist finance system. A postcapitalist project would not seek – as the money fundamentalists do – the end to fractional reserve banking. In the first place, if it was attempted as a short-term remedy to financialization, it would cause demand to slump. Also, we need credit creation and an expanded money supply to wear down the debt pile that is strangling growth. The most immediate objective is to save globalization by killing neoliberalism. A socialized banking system and a central bank attuned to sustainability could do this using fiat money – which, as we discussed in chapter 1, works as long as people believe in the credibility of the state.


pages: 484 words: 104,873

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

* When a central bank like the Federal Reserve “prints money,” it normally purchases government bonds. When it settles the transaction, it deposits money into the bank account of whomever it bought the bonds from. This is newly created money: it just appears out of nowhere. Once this new money is in the banking system, the idea is that banks can then loan it out. This is what’s known as fractional reserve banking. Banks have to keep a small percentage of the new money on hand, but they’re allowed to loan out most of it. The way things are supposed to work is that the banks loan the new money to businesses that can then expand and hire more people. Or the banks might loan to consumers who spend the money, thereby creating new demand. Either way, jobs should be created and money (purchasing power) will flow to consumers.

., 265, 266 Ferrucci, David, 99–100, 102n, 115 Feynman, Richard, 241, 243 Final Jeopardy (Baker), 96n, 102n financial crisis, debt and, 200, 214, 218–219 financial derivatives, 219 financial elite, political influence wielded by, 47–48, 59–60 financialization, 55–57 financial sector, 55–57, 103 Fluid, Inc., 103 food fabricators, 180, 246 food stamps, 201–202 Forbes (magazine), 84 “For Big Companies, Life Is Good” (Wall Street Journal), 39 Ford, Henry, 80 Ford, Henry, II, 193 Ford Motor Company, 76, 193 401k retirement plans, 222, 274 Foxconn, 10, 11, 14 fractional reserve banking, 218n France, 24, 41 Freeland, Chrystia, 51 freestyle chess, 122, 123 “freeters,” 221 “Free Trade’s Great, but Offshoring Rattles Me” (Blinder), 118 Frey, Carl Benedikt, 59, 223 Friedman, Milton, ix, 210–211 Friedman, Thomas, 133 The Gap, 17 Gates, Bill, 236 GDP (gross domestic product) consumer spending and, 199 corporate profits as share of, 40, 202, 203 finance-related activity as percentage of, 55 GDP (gross domestic product) deflator, 38n Genentech, 234 General Electric, 154, 179 General Motors, 76 The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (Keynes), 206 genetic programming, 108–109, 110 Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), MOOCs and, 134–135, 142 Geraci, Robert, 235 Germany, 41 Ghayad, Rand, 45–46 globalization, 53–55, 116 glucose monitoring, 159 “Goggles” feature, 22 Gold, Jenny, 164 Goldman Sachs, 56 Good Data, 107 Google, xvi, 121, 236 Android system, 6, 21, 79, 121 artificial intelligence and, 231 autonomous cars and, xiii, 94, 182–183, 184, 186, 188, 189 big data and, 86 cloud computing and, 104, 106 cloud robotics and, 21 glucose monitor, 159 “Goggles” feature, 22 keyword-based search algorithm, 98–99 online language translation tool, 89–90, 130 personalized email and social response program, 93–94 profit and employee numbers, 76 revenue generation and, 76 robotics startup companies, acquisition of, 21n Singularity University and, 234 Thrun and Norvig and, 132 Udacity, 134 YouTube acquisition, 175 Gordon, Robert J., 65 government funding, of nanotechnology research, 242–243 government regulation of markets, 265 GPS (Global Positioning System), 209n Grabit Inc., 7–8 graphene nanotubes, 70n “gray goo” scenario, 244, 247 graying workforce, 220–223, 224 Great Recession corporate profits vs. retail sales during recovery from, 39–40, 202, 203 debt and, 200 increase in part-time jobs and, 49 jobless recovery and, 44–45, 280 productivity and, 207–208 “The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks” (Beaudry, Green & Sand), 127 The Great Stagnation (Cowen), 65 Green, David A., 127 Grossman, Lev, 111 Grossman, Terry, 235 Grötschel, Martin, 71 guaranteed income.


pages: 275 words: 84,980

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money That We Understand to Money That Understands Us (Perspectives) by David Birch

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, capital controls, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, creative destruction, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, distributed ledger, double entry bookkeeping, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, index card, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, large denomination, M-Pesa, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, Northern Rock, Pingit, prediction markets, price stability, QR code, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, social graph, special drawing rights, technoutopianism, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, wage slave, Washington Consensus, wikimedia commons

It is possible that the most revolutionary impact of new technology will come from its ability to monetize new forms of debt rather than from its ability to act as a useful means of exchange, thereby creating new stores of value that are claims over that debt. This is one of the reasons that I remain sceptical about the new virtual currency Bitcoin (this is, again, something that we will return to in Part III of the book). If the colony analogy holds, we would expect just such a development and the emergence of not only new forms of money but a whole new virtual finance industry, as different from our existing finance industry as fractional reserve banking was from the striking of electrum coins in Lydia. Who would bet against a new standard emerging – an energy standard, as for example envisaged by the artist Austin Houldsworth in chapter 15 – that is not related to first- or second-wave commodities but to claims against the future production of goods or the delivery of services? Writ large As an aside there is a further interesting parallel with the old New World to be found between the row going on about encryption and spying on people on the Internet and the row that went on in the colonies about taxation.

Part II The Present: Money That We Think We Understand The judicious operations of banking, by substituting paper in the room of a great part of this gold and silver, enables the country to convert a great part of this dead stock into active and productive stock. — Adam Smith (1723–90) in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Volume I, Book II, Chapter II) During Victorian times the combination of technology and regulation brought us to a vision of money and markets that we recognize. This vision is one of a central bank in control of nation state currency, money creation by fractional reserve banks and paper circulating in the place of commodities. (It is true that America did not yet have a central bank, but the die was cast.) We had banknotes and bank accounts, futures and options, savings and loans. For the purposes of this discussion, then, we mark the present – the Money 2.0 era, the era of electronic money, the technological era of bits about atoms – as beginning in 1871 with the launch of Western Union’s electronic funds transfer service.


Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business process, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, Chance favours the prepared mind, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, survivorship bias, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

On paper, it shows steady returns over time—maybe it even advertises its rates. And it’s sustainable, unless everybody wants out all at once, in which case it unravels. Is this another Ponzi scheme? No, it’s fractional reserve banking, the standard operating procedure of banks around the world. A bank usually keeps very little of its deposits on hand. The rest is used to invest— traditionally, by making loans to other bank customers. Is there potential for abuse here? Certainly. The early history of the United States is fi lled with stories about “wildcat banking,” banks that operated even less responsibly than the Madoff wealth management fund. But we’ve changed the institution of fractional reserve banking over time—once again, evolution at the speed of thought—so that it’s better adapted to our financial environment: the reserve requirements of Regulation D, the deposit insurance provided by the FDIC, and the lender-of-lastresort policies of the Federal Reserve system.

See also “Quant Meltdown” (August 2007) fi nancial engineering, 212, 415 fi nancial sector, 330–332 fi nches, 226–227, 240, 244 FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), 360 fi nancial technology, 248, 361, 399, 405 first-order false belief, 111 Fisher, Larry, 23 Fisher, Ronald Aylmer, 216–217 fi xed-income arbitrage, 243, 293 fi xed-rate commissions, 281 flash crashes, 358–359, 360 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 404 food production, 8–9 footbridge dilemma, 339 foreign exchange, 12–16, 24, 38 Foundations of Economic Analysis (Samuelson), 177, 210, 212–213 Fouse, William L., 263 FOXP2 gene, 173–174 fractional reserve banking, 344 framing effects, 58–59, 388 France, 242 fraternal twins, 159, 161 Freddie Mac, 298, 379 Friedman, Milton, 25, 34 Fuld, Dick, 318 474 • Index functional magnetic resonance imaging, (fMRI), 77–78, 86, 88–89, 90, 101, 102, 186, 337, 338 funds of hedge funds, 293 futures contracts, 20, 34, 243, 268, 273, 276, 356 future value, 98 Galapagos Islands, 225–227 gambling, 17, 59–60, 67, 88–89, 91–92, 186 game theory, 170, 179, 212, 217, 336 Gaucher disease, 418, 419 Gaussian distribution (bell curve), 22, 273 Gazzaniga, Michael, 113, 115–117, 123, 313 Gekko effect, 348, 391 Gekko, Gordon (fictional character), 345, 346, 349, 387, 417 GenBank, 402–403 general equilibrium theory, 212, 213 genome sequencing, 401, 402 Genzyme, 419 geo-engineering, 416 Germany, 242 Gerrold, David, 190 Getmansky, Mila, 317, 376 Gibbs, Josiah Willard, 20, 210 Gibson, Rajna, 353 Gift of Fear, The (de Becker), 1 Gigerenzer, Gerd, 216 Gilovitch, Thomas, 68–69 Gimein, Mark, 317 Glimcher, Paul, 99 glucocerebrosidase, 419 Goldman Sachs, 242, 287, 295, 307, 308, 324 Goldfield, Jacob, 311 Good Night, Gorilla (Rathmann), 135 Google, 405 gorilla, 150 Gould, Stephen Jay, 171, 172 Government Accountability Office (GAO), 308, 311, 351–352 government bonds, 249, 292; U.S.


pages: 478 words: 126,416

Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War

But the concept of liquidity can be transferred from milk to finance. Bankers discovered that they need keep only a fraction of the deposits placed with them in ready cash. Depositors would believe that they could access their money whenever they liked, although if they all did so at the same time, they could not. The liquidity illusion in finance has a variety of forms and different names – maturity transformation, fractional reserve banking, and even ‘money creation’. These esoteric terms contribute to the widespread notion that there is something mysterious and different about money, banking and finance. Yet there is nothing special about the idea of a service available on demand if, and only if, not many people take advantage of that availability. My mother could always obtain an extra pint of milk; but if everyone on the milkman’s round tried, most of them could not.

Gerald 242 Countrywide Financial 150, 152, 293 Craig, James 26 credit cards companies 27, 210 debt 54 origin of 185–6 profitability 113 credit default swaps 41, 60, 61, 64, 73, 100, 101, 119, 120, 121, 139, 152, 153, 223 credit expansion 54, 98 Crédit Lyonnais 33 credit ratings 21, 101, 248 credit risk 42, 75, 177, 192 Crédit Suisse First Boston 167, 292 credit-scoring 84, 87, 290, 291 Crosby, James 125 crowd-funding 81 D Dad’s Army (television series) 12 Dahinden, Vincent 124 Daschle, Tom 230 debit cards 186 debt reduction 241 debt securities 101, 107 debt-to-value ratio 149 democracy 4, 52, 308 deposit channel 25–6, 147–8, 173–94 activities of 188–94, 189, 192 directed by retail banks 291 household wealth 173–80, 175, 179 the payment system 181–8 ring-fencing 194, 287 simplification needed 213 deposit insurance 25, 121 deposit protection schemes 135 Derbyshire Building Society 90 deregulation 13, 28, 31, 149–50, 151, 246–7, 292 derivative contracts 191, 192, 323n11 derivatives market 2, 19, 35, 38, 110 portfolios 98 regulation 57, 234 securities 2, 15, 17, 41, 71, 131 Detroit, Michigan 254 Deutsche Bank 33, 104, 136–8, 166, 169, 191–2, 192, 193, 200, 219, 222, 266, 282, 286, 303, 323n11 Diamond, Bob 34, 35, 261, 267, 295, 300 Dickens, Charles: Martin Chuzzlewit 201 Dimon, Jamie 14–15, 35, 231 Dirks, Ray 228 Disney, Walt 70, 71 diversification 21, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 45, 95–9, 153 ‘alternative assets’ 98 building societies 151 buying all available stocks 99 coin-tossing game 96 correlation 96, 97–8 Exchange Traded Funds 99 hedge funds 98–9 passive funds 99 diversification divorce 74 DLJ 313n15 Dodd-Frank regulatory regime 236–7, 271 Doerr, John 167 dollar devaluation (1971) 14, 36 Donoghue, Mrs 283 dot.com boom 40 Draghi, Mario 42, 139 Dreamworks 21 Drexel Burnham Lambert 46 drug use 22 ‘Dutch book’ 68, 116 E eBay 187 economic policy 240–69 the British dilemma 262–9 consumer protection 259–62 financial markets and economic policy 248–52 Maestro 240–48 pensions and inter-generational equity 252–9 Economist, The 115 ‘Edge, the’ 114–18, 288 Edinburgh Britain’s second financial centre 11, 263 investment trusts in 26 Edison, Thomas 196 education 253, 259 efficient market hypothesis (EMH) 69–70, 99 Einstein, Albert 129 El Paso oil business 117–18, 232 electricity 245–6, 278 eligible counterparty 282–3 Elizabeth II, Queen 161 Emanuel, Rahm 301 embezzlement 127 emerging markets 39, 42 Emerson, Ralph Waldo: The Conduct of Life 181 emperor’s guard’s new clothes, the 309–10 empire, decline of 13 Enron 123, 124, 126, 127, 158, 176–7, 197, 246, 317n5 Equitas 107 Equity Funding 228 equity markets 23, 85, 168–9, 249, 288 Ericsson 108 Espirito Santo 271 Eurodollar market 13, 20, 120, 121 European Central Bank 42, 98, 138, 139, 183, 243, 244 European Commission 184, 289 European Monetary System 184 European Parliament 184, 328n6 European Union (EU) 194, 220, 226, 228, 273, 287 Eurostat 250 Eurozone 158, 183, 243, 250 creation of 129 crisis 41–2, 139, 301 indebtedness in 184 exchange rates fixed 18 flexible 18 forward 73 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) 99 synthetic 99 exchange-traded funds 280 Exchequer Partnerships 158, 159 extended family 78 Exxon Mobil 96, 101, 120, 134, 161, 163, 164, 189, 196 F Facebook 81, 162–3, 166, 167, 185, 196 ‘fair value’ 125–6, 191 fallacy of composition 89 Fama, Eugene 69 family support 79 Fannie Mae 75, 91, 135, 152, 230, 317–18n5 Farkas, Lee 152, 293 FBI 131 febezzle (‘functionally equivalent bezzle’) 127, 128, 132, 136, 176, 177, 190 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 25, 135, 247 Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City symposium (Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2005) 56–7, 58, 73, 79, 102, 181, 236, 256, 280 Federal Reserve Bank of New York 57, 183, 232, 242, 243 Federal Reserve Board 5, 41, 56, 57, 58, 134, 183, 231, 240, 243, 245, 247 Federal Reserve System 13, 40, 90, 98, 150, 183, 245 Federated Department Stores 204 fee structures 204 Ferguson, Charles 236 Feynman, Richard P. 276, 327n3 Fidelity 109, 199, 200, 213 finance sector a bias to action 203–8 control of risk 6, 7 economic significance 6 excess in the industry 6 export contribution 265 greedy individualism 24 growth of 1–2, 33 heavy criticism of 233 as just another business 5 labour force 263 lack of sanction application 7 lobbying 230, 302, 306 major role in politics 4 management of household financial affairs 6 matching of borrowers and lenders 6, 7 past and current attitudes in 23–4 payments system 6, 7, 25, 281 profitability 132–40, 134 qualitative assessment 265 recurrent crises 35, 307 regarded as having unique status 4–5 remuneration 54, 112 role of 143 search 144 sense of personal entitlement 24, 300 share in GDP 264–5 skills 15 stewardship 144 structural reform 7 taxation 266–7 work incentives 7 workers in finance 6–7, 125 finance theory 5 Finance Watch 328n6 financial advisers 197, 199, 291 Financial Conduct Authority 230, 237, 261 Financial Products Group 293 financial sector, regulation of see regulation Financial Services Authority 243, 247, 303 Financial Services Compensation Scheme 260 Financial Times 68, 115 financialisation 4–7, 36, 45, 72, 163, 165, 172, 259 and complexity 276, 278 conflation of roles of agent and trader 198 and the conglomeration 133 direct impact of 176 effect on corporate behaviour 78 and emergence of large asset management companies 200 emphasis on monetary policy 241 in Germany 169 and hedge funds 289 and housing 149 national and international 39 and risk 55 and secondary markets 170 and social security 255 Summers supports 57 transition from agency to trading 84 two main componenents of 16 Fink, Larry 200 First Boston 200 First Data Corporation 186 First World War 221 fiscal arbitrage 122, 123, 223 FISIM (financial services indirectly measured) 264 Fitch rating agency 313n6 Fitzgerald, Scott: The Great Gatsby 17, 297 FitzPatrick, Sean 156, 293–4 Five Star Movement 306 fixed commissions 29 fixed interest, currency and commodities (FICC) 22, 107, 110, 111, 118, 125, 160, 191, 194, 288 fixed-interest securities 190, 193 Flaubert, Gustave: Sentimental Education 80 Florida land boom (1920s) 201 Forbes magazine 204, 231 Ford, Henry 45, 70, 71 foreign exchange transactions speculators in 18–19 value of 2 Fortune magazine 23 ‘four horsemen’ 167, 168 Fox, Justin 70 fractional reserve banking 88 France corporatism 303–4 defeat of Sarkozy 248, 249 downgraded bonds 248, 249, 250 housing 149, 174 ‘trente glorieuses’ 36 Frankfurt financial centre 26 Freddie Mac 75, 135 free market 18, 59, 238, 247, 302 Frick, Henry Clay 44 Friedman, Milton 60, 63 Free to Choose 56 front running 28 FrontNational 306 Frost, Robert: ‘Provide, Provide’ 252 FT Alphaville 16 Fuld, Dick 24, 32, 72–3, 75, 231, 293 full employment 241 fund managers 66, 86, 108, 115, 206, 209, 212 future of finance 297–308 futures 19 G G8 and G20 economic summits 220 Galbraith, J.K. 127, 201 Galton, Francis xi gambling 130–31, 289 close regulation of 71, 72 Lloyd’s coffee house 71–2 lottery 65, 66, 68, 72 Gates, Bill 174, 268 Gaussian copula 22 GEC 48, 51 GEICO 107 Geithner, Timothy 57–8, 73, 75–6, 92, 104, 183, 230, 232, 239, 276, 306, 307 Geithner doctrine 271 Gemeinschaft 17, 61, 255 General Electric 46, 196 General Motors 45, 49 general share price indexes 98 Generali 27 Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 193 Gensler, Gary 288 Germany corporatism 303, 304 ‘economic miracle’ 36 housing 149, 174 indebtedness to 183–4 Landesbanken 169 Mittelstand 52, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172 role of Bundesbank 243 social market economy 219 state pensions 253 Gesellschaft 17, 61, 255 Gingrich, Newt 230 Glass-Steagall Act (1933) 25, 28, 33 Glaxo 96 global financial crisis (2007–9) and bank assets 91 bankers’ cognitive dissonance 102 begins in the USA 41 causes of 194, 220, 271 collapse of asset-backed securities market 21 collapse of sub-prime mortgages 109 costs of 285 and derivative contracts 192 and diversification 32 emergency measures 285–6 Gaussian copula 22 and liquidity 188, 278, 286 misallocation of housing finance 148 most culpable figures 293 unprecedented public intervention 41 the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression 15 globalisation 13 of capital flows 176, 180 of financial markets 17 and income inequality 53–4 pressure on regulatory structures 14 ‘gnomes of Zurich’ 18 gold standard 13, 18, 36, 181, 241 Golden Dawn 306 Goldman Sachs 1, 14, 31, 55, 57, 59, 63, 104–5, 114, 115, 117, 118, 120, 135, 143, 158, 160, 164, 232, 233, 250, 258, 266, 282, 283, 284, 288, 294, 300, 306 Code of Business and Ethics 118 Goldsmith, Oliver: The Deserted Village 49 goodwill 31, 258–9 Goodwin, Fred 14, 34, 149, 156, 169, 231, 293 Google 80, 83, 162, 167, 196 Gould, Jay 44 government assets and liabilities 000 government bonds 17, 42, 86, 155, 178, 208, 222, 290 government debt 128, 178, 190, 203, 245, 250, 251 government spending 253 Graham, Ben 176 Grasso, Dick 49 Great Depression 12, 15, 25, 36, 57, 218, 221, 225, 258, 308 ‘Great Moderation, the’ 40, 57, 104 Greece accounting manipulation 158, 250 adoption of a common currency 41 government debt 42, 128 refinancing of Greek credit 42 Greenspan, Alan 57, 63, 104, 119, 181, 245, 276 and Ayn Rand 79, 240 and ‘Black Monday’ 242 chairman of the Federal Reserve Board 56, 58, 181, 240–41, 242 and Fed priorities 247–8 and the Markowitz model 68–9 and mortgage defaults 97 and risk 73 testimony to Congress 67–8, 240 ‘Greenspan doctrine’ 56, 60, 67, 68, 71, 87, 101, 249 ‘Greenspan put, the’ 242, 249 Grillo, Bepep 306 Grimaldis of Monaco 123 gross domestic product (GDP) 251, 256, 264–5, 265, 266 gross national income (GNI) 265–6 gross value added (GVA) 265 group insurance 76–7 Grubman, Jack 293 H Haldane, Andrew 139, 264 Halifax Building Society 31, 32, 140, 164, 258–9 becomes a public company 124 competition for the ‘talent’ 193–4 ‘the Edge’ established in wholesale financial markets 114 and fixed-interest securities 190, 193 Group Treasury 106, 107, 111, 129 origins 106 rescued by the British government 124 response to changing times (1990s) 129 takes over the Bank of Scotland 124, 125 the world’s largest mortgage lender 106 worthless windfall shares 127–8 Hamamatsu Photonics 168 Hambrecht & Quist 167 Hambros Bank 158 Hanson 45, 46–7 ‘hard’ commodities 17 Harding, David 111–12, 124 Hartlepool nuclear power station, northeast England 158 Harvard University 5, 14–15 Harvey-Jones, Sir John 51 Hawkins, Sir Henry 61, 64, 116 Hayek, Friedrich 225 HBoS 32, 91, 124, 125, 135 healthcare 77, 78, 79, 253, 257–8 hedge fund managers 23, 99, 109, 282 Hedge Fund Research 323n9 hedge funds 27, 98–9, 110, 191, 194, 284, 289, 323n9 hedge fund centre, Mayfair, London 263 Helyar, John 46, 164 Henderson, David 58 ‘hidden champions’ 168 high-frequency trading 2, 111, 280, 305 Hill, Lord 322n14 Hope, Bob 160 Hornby, Andy 14 horse-racing 72, 116 House of Commons library 115 House of Lords 283 House of Morgan 25, 35 Household International 34–5 housing 148–54, 290 causes of crisis in housing finance 153 collapse of thrifts 150 equity release 54 house prices (US) 41, 43, 174, 259 houses as physical assets 146–7 low-cost 79 mortgage defaults 97 owner-occupied housing stock 53, 149, 151 specialist lenders 150 HSBC 1, 24, 34–5, 286, 328n22 Hubler, ‘Howie’ 130 Hurricane Katrina (2005) 79, 256 I Ibsen, Henrik: An Enemy of the People 285 Iceland: bank and compensation scheme collapse 260 ICI 45, 46–8, 51, 78 Iksil, Bruno 35, 130 ‘I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone’ culture 125, 128, 129, 131, 133, 152, 156, 204, 273 imperialism 13, 218 income distribution 52–4, 53 Independent Commission on Banking 139, 287 India, economic growth in 53 inflation 36, 54, 178, 241–2, 258 information asymmetry 60, 74, 76, 251, 317n2 information technology 18, 19–20, 31, 168, 185 infrastructure, property and 154–60 initial public offering (IPO) 113 Inside Job (film) 236 insurance companies 16, 27, 29, 120, 197, 199, 208, 213, 264 Intel 29, 167 interest rates and inflation 241, 242 long-term 251 intergenerational accounting 258 intermediation 80–105 bad intermediaries 81–2 competition 271 direct/indirect 82, 83 and diversification 96 facilitating 7 and the internet 81 leverage 100–105 managed 83, 201, 212–13 the role of the middleman 80–99 total costs of 207 transparent 83, 84, 201–2, 203 International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) 193 International Labour Organization (ILO) 263 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 13–14, 38, 39, 56, 58, 139, 220, 302 international reply coupons 131 International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) 61, 119, 193 internet 182, 183, 185 connectedness 81, 83 and intermediation 81 Interstate Commerce Commission 233, 237 investment banking FICC trading 107 global expansion of American banks 33 investment trusts 26, 27 relationships 16 within commercial banks 22 investment banks boutique 205 ‘dark pools’ 29 economists in 248–9 legal partnerships 30 modern objectives 197 and rating agencies 249 and search 197 investment channel 26, 148, 174, 175, 195–213 a bias to action 203–8 fails to meet the needs of businesses and households 213 investable assets 202–3, 203 the role of the asset manager 208–13 simplification needed 213 and sovereign wealth funds 253 stewardship 195–203, 203 investment companies 26, 27, 96, 177, 197, 199, 200, 201, 202 investment funds closed-end (managed) 212 open-ended (transparent) 212 Investor B 108 investors allocation of risk 57, 60, 73 and credit ratings 21 foreign 39 institutional 23, 28, 46 large 98 and leverage 101 long-term 94 losses of 43 private 28 property 99 retail 66 small 30, 99 sophisticated 23 Ireland bank workers’ strike (1970) 182 collapse of banking system (2008) 42, 138, 182 Isaacson, Walter 71 Ishmael, Stacy-Marie 16 Israel defence forces 171 high-technology start-up sector 117 It’s a Wonderful Life (film) 12–13 ITT 45 J Japan credit expansion 98 economic growth 36, 39 imagined competitive threat from 221 and quantitative easing 245 speculative bubble (late 1980s) 38–9, 280 jobbers 25, 28, 29–30 Jobs, Steve 70, 71, 162, 196 Johnson, Simon 302 Jordan Marsh department store 46, 90 J.P.


pages: 275 words: 77,955

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, central bank independence, Corn Laws, Deng Xiaoping, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, liquidity trap, market friction, minimum wage unemployment, price discrimination, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing

From this time on, the economy was plagued by recurrent liquidity crises. A wave of bank failures would taper down a while, and then start up again as a few dramatic failures or other events produced a new loss of confidence in the banking system and a new series of runs on banks. These were important not only or even primarily because of the failures of the banks but because of their effect on the money stock. In a fractional reserve banking system like ours, a bank does not of course have a dollar of currency (or its equivalent) for a dollar of deposits. That is why “deposits” is such a misleading term. When you deposit a dollar of cash in a bank, the bank may add fifteen or twenty cents to its cash; the rest it will lend out through another window. The borrower may in turn redeposit it, in this or another bank, and the process is repeated.


pages: 235 words: 65,885

Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, James Howard (frw) Kunstler

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anti-communist, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Fractional reserve banking, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, urban planning

Thus the experience and expectation of economic growth had already insinuated itself into the minds of members of the European merchant class before industrialism took hold. Once the fuel revolution began, with vastly more energy available per capita, economic activity achieved seemingly perpetual exponential growth, and economic theories emerged not only to explain this growth in terms of “markets,” but to affirm that now, because of markets, growth was necessary, inevitable, and unending. World without end, amen. Fractional-reserve banking, based on the wonder of compound interest, served as the fiscal embodiment of these new expectations. In effect, within the minds of society’s managers and policy makers, faith in technology and markets supplanted previous religious faith in the hallucinatory agricultural and herding deities that had presided over Western civilization for the previous couple of millennia. In the early 20th century, as mechanized production mushroomed to swamp existing demand for manufactured products (among people who mostly still lived rurally and fairly self-sufficiently), elites began experimenting with mass propaganda in the form of advertising and public relations.


pages: 183 words: 17,571

Broken Markets: A User's Guide to the Post-Finance Economy by Kevin Mellyn

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banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, information asymmetry, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, lump of labour, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mobile money, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, seigniorage, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the payments system, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

., the pound as currency of clearing and settlement for all cross-border transactions), and the largest and deepest money and capital markets, all backed by the English common law and its respect for contract and property rights. From 1865 to 1914, most of the capital to build the US industrial base and infrastructure was raised in London, and American trade was financed and external claims were settled in sterling. America only briefly joined the gold standard, but instead pursued a liberal (as in loose) domestic credit system based on fractional reserve banking, and until 1913 eschewed the discipline of central banking. Britain accepted and even clung to the burden of maintaining a reserve currency until forced to impose strict exchange controls at the outbreak of war in 1939 largely through its governing class’s confusion between national prestige and practical economics. After the war, the “temporary” exchange controls stayed on until 1979.


pages: 283 words: 81,163

How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present by Thomas J. Dilorenzo

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banking crisis, British Empire, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Norman Mailer, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, wealth creators, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

A treatise on economic theory by one of the twentieth century’s preeminent Austrian School, free-market economists. ———. 1977. Power and Market: Government and the Economy. Menlo Park, CA: Institute for Humane Studies. An excellent and comprehensive exposition of the economics of government interventionism. ———. What Has Government Done to Our Money? Santa Ana, CA: Rampart College, 1974. An explanation of why the gold standard is consistent with free-market capitalism but fractional reserve banking is not. Schweichart, Larry. The Entrepreneurial Adventure: A History of Business in the United States. New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000. A history of entrepreneurship in America from the colonial era up through the age of Microsoft. Simon, Julian L. The Ultimate Resource. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981. Simon brilliantly shows how human ingenuity has always been the driving force of economic progress, as long as a high degree of economic freedom—i.e., capitalism—exists.

Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer, Jacqui Dunne

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, business climate, business process, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, conceptual framework, credit crunch, discounted cash flows, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, liberation theology, Marshall McLuhan, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, Occupy movement, price stability, reserve currency, Silicon Valley, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban decay, War on Poverty, working poor

See Equity Family, 18–19, 44; in !Kung culture, 47; time currency and, 80– 81, 84– 85 Favela, 141 Fear, 4 Federalism, 69 Federal Reserve Act of 1913, 25–26 FEMA, 170–171 Fiat money, 26–28; creditos as, 184–185; inflation and, 91; as social construct, 58 Finite world, 42, 44, 192–193 Fisher equation, 63– 64 Flow network, 32– 33, 61– 63 Fomentos, 105 Food chain, 61 Food stamp, 12 Forgery, 184–185 Fractional reserve banking, 25–26, 39– 40, 228n1, 228n4 Fractional reserve multiplier, 40, 228n1 Fraud, 146–147, 194; counterfeiting, 184–185; emergency currencies and, 170–171; fraudulent currency initiatives, 192 Free clinic, 162–165 Free Lakota Bank, 113–114 Free market, 28, 31– 32, 35, 217 Free money, 176–178 Freigelt, 176–178 Frequent flyer miles: computers enabling, 60– 61; as cooperative currency, 59, 74; inflation and, 92; in multicurrency world, 55 Friendly Favors (FF), 132–133, 183–184 Fuel, 126–128 Functional currency, 199, 201 Fureai kippu, 166–169 Futility, 20 Game, 156–157 Garbage.


pages: 296 words: 78,112

Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bernie Sanders, business climate, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate raider, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Donald Trump, Fractional reserve banking, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, illegal immigration, immigration reform, liberation theology, low skilled workers, Nate Silver, nuclear winter, obamacare, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, urban planning

From a distance, his hard-line antigovernment views appeared no different from those of any number of financial-industry power moguls scattered throughout the country, whose collective fortune financed the Republican Party and its affiliated think tanks and pressure groups. Up close, however, Mercer was . . .well, he was different. He resembled the bloodless capitalist hero in an Ayn Rand novel. Mercer wanted to bring back the gold standard and abolish the fractional-reserve banking system upon which the modern economy is built. He funded an Idaho activist who foments legal challenges to environmental laws, claiming they are part of a United Nations plot to depopulate rural America. He was once overheard by a Renaissance colleague insisting that radiation from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II actually improved the health of people outside the blast zone.


pages: 411 words: 108,119

The Irrational Economist: Making Decisions in a Dangerous World by Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Paul Slovic

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Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, bank run, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kenneth Arrow, Loma Prieta earthquake, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, source of truth, statistical model, stochastic process, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto

Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther, eds. On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 16 Dumb Decisions or as Smart as the Average Politician? Economic and Behavioral Explanations for Insurance Demand MARK V. PAULY INTRODUCTION Insurance is one of mankind’s greatest inventions. I used to rank it just a little behind fractional reserve banking—a modern banking practice in which banks keep only a fraction of their deposits in reserve and lend out the remainder—which by its nature expands money supply beyond what it would otherwise be. But the recent turmoil in capital markets (with insurance not totally unaffected) suggests that the two financial instruments may now be even. Several of the previous chapters in this book have already referred to insurance decisions as illustrative examples of a much broader set of decisions under risk, uncertainty, and even ambiguity.


pages: 357 words: 110,017

Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin

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bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invention of writing, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, South Sea Bubble, supply-chain management, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail

Even Oresme, the champion of the new monetary rentiers, was quick to criticise the “money-changers, bankers or dealers in bullion” who “augment their own wealth by unworthy business … a disgraceful trade.”15 Then there were the ominous lessons of the potential macroeconomic risks associated with large-scale banking contained in ancient texts like Tacitus’ account of the Tiberian financial crisis. Above all, there was the sovereigns’ interest in ensuring the continuing priority of their money, and hence their seigniorage. As a result, the new invention of banking was subjected to draconian regulation. When in 1321 the authorities in Venice discovered that merchants were practising fractional reserve banking—holding only a small proportion of their assets in coin of the state—they passed a law specifying that banks must be able to meet all requests for withdrawals in coin within three days.16 In the same year the Catalonian authorities revised their 1300 order that failed bankers be forced to live on bread and water alone until all their clients were reimbursed. Henceforth, any banker who failed to meet his clients’ demands was to be publicly denounced—and then summarily beheaded in front of his bank.


pages: 378 words: 94,468

Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High by Mike Power

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air freight, Alexander Shulgin, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, frictionless, Haight Ashbury, John Bercow, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Leonard Kleinrock, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Network effects, nuclear paranoia, packet switching, pattern recognition, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, pre–internet, QR code, RAND corporation, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, Zimmermann PGP

As if to illustrate this, one truly psychedelic item was put up for sale on the Silk Road in July 2011, when a vendor named Uglysurfer offered pound weights of American copper pennies for 10.43/lb. The face value of the pennies was US$14.60, but at the time, copper prices were such that the metal contained within a American penny was worth almost three cents. Uglysurfer was demonstrating that the ‘fiat’ system of money and fractional reserve banking, whereby banks can and do create money from thin air, was not to be trusted. ‘Under the best conditions, I could walk into a bank and provide US$25 dollars in paper Federal Reserve Notes, and walk out with a box of 95 per cent copper pennies with a metal value of approximately US$64 (in copper),’ he explained. ‘Not a bad deal! Of course not all of the pennies will be 95 per cent copper, but the portion of 95 per cent copper pennies in the box have the proportional gain,’ he told me.


pages: 351 words: 93,982

Leading From the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Scharmer, Katrin Kaufer

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, Fractional reserve banking, global supply chain, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph Schumpeter, market bubble, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, peak oil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Washington Consensus, working poor, Zipcar

.,” Harvard Business School case no. 9-412-052 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2011). 21. Pink, Drive. 22. Susan Sweitzer, “Sustainable Food Laboratory: Learning History,” unpublished internal document provided by the author, 2004. 23. Hawken, Blessed Unrest. 24. World Wildlife Fund remains WWF’s official name in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. 25. Banks also hold a competitive advantage over nonbanks through what is called fractional-reserve banking, which allows banks to invest more than they hold as deposits. 26. See www.gabv.org/ (accessed December 10, 2012). 27. On the distinction among purchase, lending, and gift money, see Rudolf Steiner, Rethinking Economics: Lectures and Seminars on World Economics (Great Barrington, MA: SteinerBooks, 2013). 28. Matthew Valencia, “Storm Survivors,” Economist, special report on offshore finance (February 16–22, 2013): 4. 29.


pages: 488 words: 144,145

Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream by R. Christopher Whalen

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Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, debt deflation, falling living standards, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global reserve currency, housing crisis, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, non-tariff barriers, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce

It is interesting to speculate how the financial markets in the United States and Europe would have reacted had a silverite such as Stevenson become president. Rothbard described the scene facing Cleveland in that terrible year: Poor Grover Cleveland, a hard money Democrat, assumed the presidency in the middle of this monetary crisis. Two months later, the stock market collapsed, and a month afterward, in June 1893, distrust of the fraction reserve banks led to massive bank runs and failures throughout the country. Once again, however, many banks, national and state, especially in the West and South, were allowed to suspend specie payments. The panic of 1893 was on.13 Despite long speeches by Bryan and other pro-silver members of the House, on August 28, 1893, the lower chamber voted 239–108 to repeal the Sherman Act. This was a tremendous victory for Cleveland, but not the end of the battle over silver in Congress.


pages: 376 words: 118,542

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, bank run, banking crisis, Corn Laws, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, invisible hand, labour mobility, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent control, road to serfdom, school vouchers, Simon Kuznets, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

If, as is typically the case, you deposit not currency but checks on other banks, your bank does not even have currency in hand to deposit in a vault. It has only a claim on another bank for currency, which it typically will not exercise because other banks have matching claims on it. For every $100 of deposits, all the banks together have only a few dollars of cash in their vaults. We have a "fractional reserve banking system." That system works very well, so long as everyone is confident that he can always get cash for his deposits and therefore only tries to get cash when he really needs it. Usually, new deposits of cash roughly equal withdrawals, so that the small amount in reserve is sufficient to meet temporary discrepancies. However, if everyone tries to get cash at once, the situation is very different—a panic is likely to occur, just as it does when someone cries "fire" in a crowded theater and everyone rushes to get out.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Banks, it’s imagined, lend out our savings to others and make money on the difference between the interest they pay on deposits and the interest they charge on loans. In this view, banks are ‘intermediaries’, linking hard-working, prudent savers to investors in the economy’s future. This picture is seriously misleading. It is not just that banks lend out much more than they borrow from us, on the assumption that we and other savers will not draw out our savings all at once. This is the widely taught story of ‘fractional reserve banking’. The important point is that they have the power to create electronic money in the form of interest-bearing credit (or debt, from the point of view of the borrower) simply by typing the figures into the borrower’s account. They create such deposits rather than wait for them to come in.64 When we borrow from a bank, or from a credit card company, we are not drawing upon existing money that they already have.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

This is what can happen when you buy a house with a mortgage in the context of the much-maligned fractional reserve system. Some of the money to pay for your house might not have ever existed had you not decided to buy. It is invented “out of thin air,” to use the language of critics of the system,* based on the fact that you have made a promise to earn it somehow in the future. *Both progressives like Thom Hartmann and libertarians like Ron Paul assail the fractional reserve banking system. It is often deemed “fraudulent,” a tool of “international bankers,” or a form of indentured servitude. While I agree there is a tremendous cause to criticize the present system, the venom seems directed at basic principles that deserve to be understood in a better light. Ordinary people can help create new money by making promises. You constrain the future by making a plan, and a promise to keep to it.


pages: 387 words: 112,868

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper

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4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, capital controls, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, life extension, litecoin, lone genius, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, QR code, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Startup school, stealth mode startup, the payments system, transaction costs, tulip mania, WikiLeaks

After a brief spasm of random web searches, Martti had found his way to the primitive website at Bitcoin.org. Within a few weeks of his initial exchanges with Satoshi, Martti had totally revamped the Bitcoin website. In place of Satoshi’s original version, which presented complicated descriptions of the code, Martti led off with a brief, crisp description of the big ideas, aimed at drawing in anyone with similar ideological interests. “Be safe from the unstability caused by fractional reserve banking and the bad policies of the central banks,” read the newly designed site. The onslaught of new users was slow to arrive, however. A few dozen people downloaded the Bitcoin program in June, to add to the few hundred who had downloaded it since its original release. Most had tried it once and then turned it off. But Martti kept at it. After releasing the new website, Martti turned to the software’s actual underlying code.


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, endogenous growth, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, long peace, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

The word “capitalism,” with its hidden assumption that piling up frozen labor does the trick, du Plessis notes, was applied in the nineteenth century to the system of property rights coordinated by prices before we grasped that the innovation encouraged by such a system is what chiefly matters. Schumpeter defines capitalism variously at various times. His definition in Business Cycles (1939) is “that form of private property economy in which innovations are carried out by borrowed money.”24 In other words, “we shall date capitalism as far back as the element of credit creation,” by which he means fractional reserve banking—in effect any sort of money storage in which the storer is not legally or practically liable to keep all the money on hand all the time. He notes that such institutions existed in the medieval Mediterranean before they existed in Northern Europe, and so he would be unsurprised to find business cycles there. (He did not realize that Asia had such institutions hundreds of years before.) He claimed in his posthumous History of Economic Analysis that “by the end of the fifteenth century most of the phenomena we are in the habit of associating with that vague word Capitalism had put in their appearance.”25 And yet it would be three more centuries before modernity emerged, economically speaking.