Tuesday, 18 January 2011

what is money?

Some groups talk about fundamental monetary reform as a necessary element of addressing the 'recession'(more aptly Depression) triggered by the financial crisis in 2008. On the theme of monetary reform, I get the impression not all monetary reformed money is made equal. I started researching this issue online at the American Monetary Institute, through Steven Zarlenga's writings. I particularly like his historical narrative crediting Aristotle with recognising that “Money exists not by nature but by law.” He reports the success of government issued fiat currencies in the past and argues persuasively that advanced money systems are an abstract social power based in law and, counter to the claims of Ron Paul, Max Keiser et al in the goldbug element, money need NOT be gold based.

Positive Money does a good job of presenting the case in the UK. They have made a submission, in partnership with the new economics foundation & Southampton Uni, a proposal to the Independent Comission on Banking.

How the above organisations' proposals play out in a larger international monetary scene and whether it somehow consolidates a status quo of inequitable distribution of wealth I am still unclear. And as a reader of David Malone’s blog(Golem) I immediately wonder exactly how the proposals prevent the bankers from continuing to leverage and creating their own currency a la securitisation.

In trying to better understand money I have found Richard Douthwaite's, The Ecology of Money to be an invaluable and readable primer. Explains commercially produced money, privately & government created money and discusses the intriguing idea of multiple currencies within a country (e.g.: local; regional; national) and a separate international currency with drawing rights based on resources, emissions and population base.

Related to the monetary reform topic: In Germany and other countries, there is a growing movement for a universal unconditional basic citizen's income in the UK.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Another fun RSA talk animated - David Harvey's, Crisis of Capitalism. I love this combination of simple visual imagery accompanying the speech. Exceptionall communication/learning tool.

The symbolism of the Monopoly gameboard is truly ironic. Not only given the mortgage-owner players of the current depression but in light of the alleged Quaker origins of the board game, which I had long considered an urban myth, though Wiki affirms that: Monopoly is a redesign of an earlier game "The Landlord's Game", first published by the Quaker and political activist Elizabeth Magie. The purpose of that game was to teach people how monopolies end up bankrupting the many and giving extraordinary wealth to one or few individuals. Remarkable how her idea of an interactive teaching tool like a board game to give learners/players an experiential appreciation of a somewhat non-intuitive economic concept somehow evolved into the modern boardgame celebrating unbridled selfish greed. Funny too, considering most can anecdotally identify with that profiteering single mindedness that grips you, all consideration for others cast aside and then the frayed tempers and temporarily broken friendships in the aftermath. It always end in tears. Or was that just me?

While on the subject of monopolies, yet another article about the 'too big to fail' global banking entities. And a link to a shocking article on the phenomenon of the super-rich, The Rise of the New Elite.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


"Prophesying catastrophe is incredibly banal. The more original move is to assume that it has already happened" - Jean Baudrillard

Well, here's Gerard Celente's forecast on this years zeitgeist trends.

"The importance of illusion in people's lives and the tragedy that arises from it's inevitable breakdown." - One line critique of the Great Gatsby, possibly by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

And here's David Malone's predictions for the economic year ahead.