How many times do you hear that the government is massively in debt, and that there are only two options – either (a) increase taxes, or (b) cut government spending?
This story, which is repeated endlessly by policitians, economists and journalists is a fiction. And Andrew Jackson and Ben Dyson’s excellent book explains why. The real problem is that governments have handed the power to create the nation’s money supply to the commercial banking system. And those banks are responsible for creating 97% of the money in the UK system. They create that money “out of thin air” when they make loans. And then they charge everyone – individuals, businesses and governments – interest on those loans.
My own calculations back up the claims made both in Modernising Money, and in the Positive Money groups’s previous book “Where does money come from?” (also highly recommended). Since 1995, the UK goverment has paid over £495 billion in interest charges on government debt. That’s a substantial proportion of the £1.1 trillion in public sector debt. And these payments have been going on for decades. Indeed for most of the 1960s and 1970s, the government was paying around 3.5% of GDP to the banks in the form of interest charges, reaching a peak of over 4.5% in 1981-2.
What Jackson and Dyson demonstrate is that those payments were totally unnecessary, because there is absolutely no reason why the nation’s money supply needs to be created as interest bearing debt by commercial banks. The Bank of England could, and should, be creating the money supply. And it should be providing that money supply to power the economy free of interest charges.
The usual argument trotted out by the defenders of the Banks right to create the money supply is that if governments were to be given control of the money supply, they would be tempted to increase the money supply too fast, and the result would be hyperinflation – we would end up in Zimbabwe, or the Weimer Republic.
But Jackson and Dyson calmly demolish these arguments. In an appendix, they demonstrate that the Zimbabwe/Weimar Republic arguments are phoney. They also demonstrate that, left to the commercial banks, money creation is done in a way that follows only one objective – maximising bank profits. And that is why a vast amount of the newly created money has gone to fuel house price inflation – with the result that working families are now priced out of the housing market.
This is an extract from the Review of the book Modernising Money by Simon Thorpe.