What If We Adopted A System Where The Banks Did Not Create Our Money?

What if there was a financial system that would eliminate the need for the federal government to go into debt, that would eliminate the need for the Federal Reserve, that would end the practice of fractional reserve banking and that would dethrone the big banks?  Would you be in favor of such a system?  A surprising new IMF research paper entitled “The Chicago Plan Revisited” by Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof is making waves in economic circles all over the globe.  The paper suggests that the world would be much better off if we adopted a system where the banks did not create our money.  So instead of a system where more money is only created when more debt is created, we would have a system of debt-free money that is created directly by national governments.  There have been others that have suggested such a system before, but to have an IMF research paper actually recommend that such a system be adopted is a very big deal.  At the moment, the world is experiencing the biggest debt crisis in human history, and this proposal is being described as a “radical solution” that could potentially remedy some of our largest financial problems.  Unfortunately, apologists for the current system are already viciously attacking this new IMF paper, and of course the big banks would throw a major fit if such a system was ever to be seriously contemplated.  That is why it is imperative that we educate people about how money really works.  Our current system is in the process of collapsing and we desperately need to transition to a new one.

One of the fundamental problems with our current financial system is that it is based on debt.  Just take a look at the United States.  The way our system works today, the vast majority of all money is “created” either when we borrow money or the government borrows money.  Therefore, the creation of more money creates more debt.  Under such a system, it should not be surprising that the total amount of debt in the United States is more than 30 times larger than it was just 40 years ago.

We don’t have to do things this way.  There is a better alternative.  National governments can directly issue debt-free currency into circulation.  The following is a brief excerpt from the IMF report

At the height of the Great Depression a number of leading U.S. economists advanced a proposal for monetary reform that became known as the Chicago Plan. It envisaged the separation of the monetary and credit functions of the banking system, by requiring 100% reserve backing for deposits. Irving Fisher (1936) claimed the following advantages for this plan: (1) Much better control of a major source of business cycle fluctuations, sudden increases and contractions of bank credit and of the supply of bank-created money. (2) Complete elimination of bank runs. (3) Dramatic reduction of the (net) public debt. (4) Dramatic reduction of private debt, as money creation no longer requires simultaneous debt creation. We study these claims by embedding a comprehensive and carefully calibrated model of the banking system in a DSGE model of the U.S. economy. We find support for all four of Fisher’s claims.

Why should banks be allowed to create money?

That is a very good question.

Why should sovereign governments ever have to borrow money from anyone?

That is another very good question.

Our current system is designed to enrich the bankers and get everyone else into debt.

And is that not exactly what has happened?

Taking the creation of money away from the bankers would have some tremendous advantages.  A recent article by renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described some of these benefits…

One could slash private debt by 100pc of GDP, boost growth, stabilize prices, and dethrone bankers all at the same time. It could be done cleanly and painlessly, by legislative command, far more quickly than anybody imagined.

The conjuring trick is to replace our system of private bank-created money — roughly 97pc of the money supply — with state-created money. We return to the historical norm, before Charles II placed control of the money supply in private hands with the English Free Coinage Act of 1666.

Specifically, it means an assault on “fractional reserve banking”. If lenders are forced to put up 100pc reserve backing for deposits, they lose the exorbitant privilege of creating money out of thin air.

The nation regains sovereign control over the money supply. There are no more banks runs, and fewer boom-bust credit cycles.

So why don’t we go to such a system immediately?

Well, the transition to such a system would undoubtedly be a major shock to the global financial system, and most people try to avoid significant short-term pain even if there are tremendous long-term benefits.

More importantly, however, is that the bankers have a tremendous amount of power in our society today, and they would move heaven and earth to keep a debt-free monetary system from ever being implemented.

You see, the influence of the bankers is not just limited to the big banks.  Our largest financial institutions (and the people who own them) also have large ownership stakes in the vast majority of the big Fortune 500 corporations.  In essence, the big banks are at the very pinnacle of “the establishment” in the United States and in almost every other major country in the western world.

And the vast majority of all political campaigns are funded by “the establishment”.  It takes an enormous amount of money to win campaigns these days, and most politicians are extremely hesitant to bite the hands of those that feed them.

So don’t expect any changes to happen overnight.

One proposal that has actually been put forward in Congress is to cancel all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve is currently holding.  Right now, the Fed is holding more than 1.6 trillion dollars of U.S. government debt…

That would seem to make a lot of sense.  That would immediately wipe more than 1.6 trillion dollars from the U.S. national debt without any real harm being done.

But “the establishment” would be horrified if such a thing happened, so I wouldn’t anticipate it happening any time soon.

Hopefully we can get the American people (along with people all over the globe) educated about these things so that we can start to get millions of people pushing for change.

A debt-free monetary system is superior to a debt-based monetary system in so many ways.

For example, if the U.S. government directly spent debt-free money into circulation, it could conceivably never need to borrow a single dollar ever again.  If the government wanted to spend more money than it brought in, it would simply print it up and spend it.

Of course the big danger with that would be inflation.  That is why it would be imperative for there to be a hard cap on what the government could spend.  For example, you could set the cap on spending by the federal government at 20 percent of GDP.  That way we would never end up looking like the Weimar Republic.

And the current federal debt could be paid down a little at a time using newly created debt-free dollars.  This would have to be done slowly to keep inflation under control, but it could be done.

That way we would not hand a 16 trillion dollar debt to our children and our grandchildren.  We created this mess so we should clean it up.

Theoretically you could also do away with the federal income tax if you wanted to.  Personally, I would like to see the federal government be funded to a large degree by tariffs on foreign goods.  That would also have the side benefit of bringing millions of jobs back into the United States.

Our system of income tax collection is just so incredibly inefficient.  It costs us mind boggling amounts of time and money.  Just consider the following stats from one of my previous articles

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

For long stretches of our history the United States did not have any income tax, and during those times we thrived.  It is entirely conceivable that we could return to such a system.

At this point, the wealthy have become absolute masters at hiding their wealth from taxation.  According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks.  What we are doing right now produces very inequitable results and it is not working.

In many ways, inflation would be a much fairer “tax” than the income tax because inflation taxes each dollar equally.  Nobody would be able to cheat the system.

But if people really love the IRS and the federal income tax, we could keep them under a debt-free money system.  I just happen to think that the IRS and the federal income tax are both really bad ideas that have never served the interests of the American people.

In any event, hopefully you can see that there is a much broader range of solutions to our problems than the two major political parties have been presenting to us.

We do not have to allow the banks to create our money.

The federal government does not have to go into more debt.

We don’t actually need the Federal Reserve.

There are alternatives to the federal income tax and the IRS.

Yes, it is very true that no system would be perfect.  But clearly the path that we are on is only going to lead to disaster.  U.S. government finances are a complete and total nightmare, and this mountain of debt that we have accumulated is going to absolutely destroy us if we allow it to.

So somebody out there should be proposing a fundamental change in direction for our financial system.

Unfortunately, our politicians are just proposing more of the same, and we all know where that is going to lead.

Debt-Free United States Notes Were Once Issued Under JFK And The U.S. Government Still Has The Power To Issue Debt-Free Money

Most Americans have no idea that the U.S. government once issued debt-free money directly into circulation.  America once thrived under a debt-free monetary system, and we can do it again.  The truth is that the United States is a sovereign nation and it does not need to borrow money from anyone.  Back in the days of JFK, Federal Reserve Notes were not the only currency in circulation.  Under JFK (at at various other times), a limited number of debt-free United States Notes were issued by the U.S. Treasury and spent by the U.S. government without any new debt being created.  In fact, each bill said “United States Note” right at the top.  Unfortunately, United States Notes are not being issued today.  If you stop right now and pull a dollar out of your wallet, what does it say right at the top?  It says “Federal Reserve Note”.  Normally, the way our current system works is that whenever more Federal Reserve Notes are created more debt is also created.  This debt-based monetary system is systematically destroying the wealth of this nation.  But it does not have to be this way.  The truth is that the U.S. government still has the power under the U.S. Constitution to issue debt-free money, and we need to educate the American people about this.

Posted below are pictures of the front and the back of a United States Note printed in 1963 while JFK was president….

Notice that there is a red seal instead of a green seal on the front, and it says “United States Note” rather than “Federal Reserve Note”.

According to Wikipedia, United States Notes were issued directly into circulation by the U.S. Treasury and they were first used during the Civil War….

They were originally issued directly into circulation by the U.S. Treasury to pay expenses incurred by the Union during the American Civil War. Over the next century, the legislation governing these notes was modified many times and numerous versions have been issued by the Treasury.

So why are we using debt-based Federal Reserve Notes today instead of debt-free United States Notes?

It seems rather stupid, doesn’t it?

Well, that is what Thomas Edison thought too.

Thomas Edison was once quoted in the New York Times as saying the following….

That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.

Our current debt-based monetary system was devised by greedy bankers that wanted to make huge profits by creating money out of thin air and lending it to the U.S. government at interest.

Sadly, the vast majority of the American people have no idea how money is actually created in this nation.

In a previous article about money and debt, I explained how more government debt is created whenever the U.S. government puts more money into circulation….

When the government wants more money, the U.S. government swaps U.S. Treasury bonds for “Federal Reserve notes”, thus creating more government debt.  Usually the money isn’t even printed up – most of the time it is just electronically credited to the government.  The Federal Reserve creates these “Federal Reserve notes” out of thin air.  These Federal Reserve notes are backed by nothing and have no intrinsic value of their own.

When each new Federal Reserve Note is created, the interest owed by the federal government on that new Federal Reserve Note is not also created at the same time.

So the amount of government debt that is created actually exceeds the amount of money that is created.

Isn’t that a stupid system?

The U.S. Constitution says that the federal government is the one that should actually be issuing our money.

In particular, according to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it is the U.S. Congress that has been given the responsibility to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.

So why is a private central banking cartel issuing our money?

As is the case with so many other issues, we desperately need to get back to the way the U.S. Constitution says that we should be doing things.

The debt-based Federal Reserve system is literally stealing the future from our children and our grandchildren.

Back in 1910, a couple years prior to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the national debt was only about $2.6 billion.

A little over 100 years later, our national debt is now more than 5000 times larger.

So why don’t we just admit that this system simply does not work?

Our current debt-based monetary system also requires very high personal income taxes to pay for it.

In fact, it is no accident that the personal income tax was introduced at about the same time that the Federal Reserve system originally came into existence.

Our children, our grandchildren and many generations after that are facing a lifetime of debt slavery because of us.

As I have written about previously, if the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

Neither the Republicans or the Democrats are proposing any solutions to this problem.  Rather, both parties are only trying to slow down the rate at which we are going into even more debt.

But the truth is that the federal government does not have to go into a single penny of additional debt.

How could this be?

It is not too complicated.

If Congress took back the power over our currency and started issuing debt-free money a lot of our problems could be fixed.

A basic plan would look something like this….

#1) The U.S. Congress votes to take back all of the functions that it has delegated to the Federal Reserve and begins to issue debt-free United States Notes.  These United States Notes would have the exact same value as existing Federal Reserve Notes, and over time all existing Federal Reserve Notes would be taken out of circulation.

#2) The U.S. Congress nationalizes all debt held by the Federal Reserve.  That would instantly reduce the national debt by 1.6 trillion dollars.  In fact, there are a few members of Congress that have already proposed this.

#3) A Constitutional amendment is passed limiting future U.S. government deficits to a reasonable percentage of GDP.  Any future deficits would not be funded by borrowing.  Rather, future deficits would be funded by newly created United States Notes.  Therefore, the federal government would never again accumulate another penny of debt.

And it would be important to inject new money into the economy from time to time.  When existing money is destroyed or when the population grows it is important to inject a certain amount of new money into the system in order to avoid deflation.

#4) The existing national debt would be very slowly paid off with newly created United States Notes.  The U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars on interest on the national debt during fiscal year 2011, and over time this expense would go to zero.

If the national debt is paid off slowly enough, it would not create too much inflation.  I believe that it could be paid off gradually over 50 years without shocking the economy too much.

There are some that would object to any measure that would ever cause a small amount of inflation, but my contention is that we have created a $15 trillion dollar debt mess for future generations, and it would be absolutely criminal to pass that legacy on to them.

We created this mess, and it is our responsibility to clean it up.

While there is certainly a danger that we would have a limited amount of inflation under a debt-free monetary system such as the one described above, the reality is that we are absolutely guaranteed inflation under the Federal Reserve system.

Most Americans believe that inflation is a fact of life, but the sad truth is that the United States has only had a major, ongoing problem with inflation since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.

If you do not believe this, just check out this chart.

Sadly, the U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created.

So, yes, there would be a need for strict monetary discipline under a debt-free monetary system, but it would be hard to do worse than the Federal Reserve has already been doing.

And Congress could always slow down inflation using other methods.  For example, raising the reserve requirements for banks (which should be done anyway) would help keep inflation in check.

If the above proposals were adopted, the end result would be something that we could all live with.  The Federal Reserve system would be abolished, the national debt burden on future generations would be wiped out, the economy would not have to go through a devastating economic collapse that could last a decade or longer, and we could eventually make a fairly smooth transition to “hard money” if we wanted to after the national debt is gone.

Is there any other proposal out there that does all of those things?

There are many out there that would dispute some of the points above, and debate is good.  By engaging in debate, we can hopefully help educate the American people about the nature of money.

The key is to get rid of our current debt-based Federal Reserve Notes and replace them with debt-free United States Notes.

The American people need to understand that it is a lie that the U.S. government “must” borrow money from somebody else.

When the U.S. government borrows money, it slowly transfers wealth from the American people to those that lent it.

At this point, we have created a financial nightmare for future generations that is unlike anything the world has ever seen before.  We owe it to future generations to eliminate the debt problem without destroying the United States economy.  Adopting debt-free money would allow us to do that.

But sadly, neither political party is even talking about debt-free money.  In fact, most of the politicians in both political parties probably do not even know what debt-free money is.

So we need to get the American people educated about these things.  Because if we stay on the course that we are currently on, an economic collapse is inevitable.

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