“Money generating", i.e. in the context of "e-money" and the role of private banks?

Dear Prof. Wolff,

First of all, thank you very much for the insightful and important talks about the principles and institutions governing our lives.

I'm from Switzerland and, as you may know, we have a political system which also includes direct democracy -- a couple of time a year, we vote on a few "Initiatives" (federal and/or local) created by the people (I spare you the details). Of course, it's beautiful in principle, but considering the context we live in, it's sometimes used by "far-right" or "business-class" partisans to promote their agendas, using fear and (designed/maintained) ignorance to manipulate the people.

This time, I just noticed that there's an interesting and promising Initiative in development, about monetary control. It's about "e-money making/generating" by private banks and by the State: towards the end of the 19th century, the Swiss people decided to include in the Federal Constitution a provision which says that only the (federal) State can print money. Today, the provision still exists (art. 99 Fed. Cst. of 1999).

But of course, today, printed money is only a small portion of the money (in the Initiative website [link bellow], they say about 10% of Swiss money is printed, while 90% is e-money). Although new technologies were created, the principle adopted by the people in the end of the 19th century only applies to printed money, and not to e-money. So private banks can, and do create money -- the vast majority of it actually. The Initiative's goal is to adapt the old constitutional provision to the present reality of money, that is, to take into consideration e-money too.

I was wondering if you could talk a bit about money-making, and the effects of the shift from State-printed-money-making to private-(e-)money-making (credits, bubbles, speculations, etc...). There are already some nice arguments and answer of criticism in the Initiative site, but I was interested in hearing from you. Of course, you don't have to focus on the case of Switzerland -- it would be just as insightful to hear about this process in overall.

Here's a link to the Initiative development, if you're interested (available in German and English): https://www.vollgeld-initiative.ch/

Kind regards,

Adrien Folly

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  • Adrien Folly
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-09-16 10:48:59 -0400