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ELLEN BROWN VICE EDITOR

Ellen Brown is Vice Editor in Chief and advisor of Global News Aruba. She has been a contributor and advisor to the Editor in Chief of Global News Aruba since Global News Aruba has been founded in September 3rd, 2007. She is also the founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles. She developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In the best-selling Web of Debt (2007, 2012), she turned those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust,” showing how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.

In The Public Bank Solution (2013) she traces the evolution of two banking models that have competed historically, public and private; and explores contemporary public banking systems globally. She has presented these ideas at scores of conferences in the US and abroad, including in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela.

Brown developed an interest in the developing world and its problems while living abroad for eleven years in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. She returned to practicing law when she was asked to join the legal team of a popular Tijuana healer with an innovative cancer therapy, who was targeted by the chemotherapy industry in the 1990s. That experience produced her book Forbidden Medicine, which traces the suppression of natural health treatments to the same corrupting influences  that have captured the money system. She also co-authored the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, which has sold 285,000 copies.

Ellen ran for California State Treasurer in 2014 with the endorsement of the Green Party garnering a record number of votes for a Green Party candidate. Her 330+ blog articles are at http://EllenBrown.com. The Public Banking Institute is at http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.


Contact Dr Juris Doctor Ellen Brown, Attorney at Law and Financial Expert at  : [email protected] 

" The Fed's Dramatic About-face "
By Juris Doctor Ellen Brown
Adviser & Vice Editor of Global News Aruba

“Quantitative easing” was supposed to be an emergency measure, but the Federal Reserve is now taking a surprising new approach toward the policy. The Fed “eased” shrinkage in the money supply due to the 2008-09 credit crisis by pumping out trillions of dollars in new bank reserves. After the crisis, the presumption was the Fed would “normalize” conditions by sopping up the excess reserves through “quantitative tightening” (QT)—raising interest rates and selling the securities it had bought with new reserves back into the market.


The Fed relentlessly pushed on with quantitative tightening through 2018, despite a severe market correction in the fall. In December, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said QT would be on “autopilot,” meaning the Fed would continue to raise interest rates and sell $50 billion monthly in securities until it hit its target. But the market protested loudly to this move, with the Nasdaq composite index dropping 22 percent from its late-summer high.


Worse, defaults on consumer loans were rising. December 2018 was the first time in two years that all loan types and all major metropolitan statistical areas showed a higher default rate month over month. Consumer debt—including auto, student and credit card debt—is typically bundled and sold as asset-backed securities similar to the risky mortgage-backed securities that brought down the market in 2008 after the Fed had progressively raised interest rates.


Powell evidently got the memo. In January, he abruptly changed course and announced QT would be halted if needed. On Feb. 4, Mary Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said it was considering going much further. “You could imagine executing policy with your interest rate as your primary tool and the balance sheet as a secondary tool, one that you would use more readily,” she said. QE and QT would no longer be emergency measures but would be routine tools for managing the money supply. In an article on Seeking Alpha titled “Quantitative Easing on Demand,” Mark Grant writes:

If the Fed does decide to pursue this strategy it will be a wholesale change in the way the financial system in the United States operates and I think that very few institutions or people appreciate what is taking place or what it will mean to the markets, all of the markets.

Mark Grant

The Problem of Debt Deflation

The Fed is realizing that it cannot bring its balance sheet back to “normal.” It must keep pumping new money into the banking system to avoid a recession. This naturally alarms Fed watchers worried about hyperinflation. But QE need not create unwanted inflation if directed properly. The money spigots just need to be aimed at the debtors rather than the creditor banks. In fact, regular injections of new money directly into the economy may be just what the economy needs to escape the boom and bust cycle that has characterized it for two centuries. Grant concludes his article by quoting Abraham Lincoln:

The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers. By the adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.

Abraham Lincoln

The quote is apparently apocryphal, but the principle still holds: new money needs to be regularly added to the money supply to avoid an overwhelming debt burden and allow the economy to reach its true productive potential. Regular injections of new money are necessary to avoid something economists fear even more than inflation—the sort of “debt deflation” that took down the economy in the 1930s.


Most money today is created by banks when they make loans. When overextended borrowers pay down old loans without taking out new ones, the money supply “deflates” or shrinks. Demand shrinks with it, and businesses lacking customers close their doors, in the sort of self-feeding death spiral seen in the Great Depression.


As Australian economist Steve Keen observes, today the level of private debt is way too high, and that is why so little lending is occurring. But mainstream economists consider the rate of growth of debt to be irrelevant to macroeconomic policy, because lending is thought to simply redistribute spending power from savers to investors. Conventional economic theory says that banks are merely intermediaries, recirculating existing money rather than creating spending power in their own right. But this is not true, Keen said. Banks actually create new money when they make loans. He cites the Bank of England, which said in its 2014 quarterly report:

[B]anks do not act simply as intermediaries, lending out deposits that savers place with them, and nor do they ‘multiply up’ central bank money to create new loans and deposits …


In the modern economy, most money takes the form of bank deposits. But how those bank deposits are created is often misunderstood: the principal way is through commercial banks making loans. Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.

Steve Keen

Loans create deposits, and deposits make up the bulk of the money supply. Money today is created by banks as a debt on their balance sheets, and more is always owed back than was created, since the interest claimed by the banks is not created in the original loan. Debt thus grows faster than the money supply. When overextended borrowers quit taking out the new loans needed to repay old loans, the gap widens even further. The result is debt deflation—a debt-induced reduction in the new money needed to stimulate economic activity and growth. Thus comes the need for injections of new money to fill the gap between debt and the money available to repay it.


However, the money created through QE to date has not gone to the consuming public, where it must go to fill this gap. Rather, it has gone to the banks, which have funneled it into the speculative financialized markets. Nomi Prins calls this “dark money”—the trillions of dollars flowing yearly in and around global stock, bond and derivatives markets generated by central banks when they electronically fabricate money by buying bonds and stocks. She writes, “These dark money flows stretch around the world according to a pattern of power, influence and, of course, wealth for select groups.” In a piece for Daily Reckoning, she shows graphically that the rise in dark money is directly correlated with the rise in financial markets.


QE has worked to reverse the debts of the banks and prop up the stock market, but it has not relieved the debts of consumers, businesses or governments; and it is these debts that will trigger the sort of debt deflation that can take the economy down. Keen concludes that “no amount of exhorting banks to ‘Intermediate’ will end the drought in credit growth that is the real cause of The Great Malaise.” The only way to reduce the private debt burden without causing a depression, he says, is a Modern Debt Jubilee or People’s Quantitative Easing.

QE-Funded Debt Relief


In antiquity, as professor Michael Hudson observes, debts were routinely forgiven when a new ruler took the throne. The rulers and their advisers knew that debt at interest grew faster than the money supply, and that debt relief was necessary to avoid economic collapse from an overwhelming debt overhang. Economic growth is arithmetic and can’t keep up with the exponential growth of debt growing at compound interest.


Consumers need that sort of debt relief today, but simply voiding out their debts as was done in antiquity will not work, because the debts are not owed to the government. They are owed to banks and private investors who would have to bear the loss. The alternative suggested by Keen and others is to fill the debt gap with a form of QE dropped not into bank reserve accounts but digitally into the bank accounts of the general public. Debtors could then use the money to pay down their debts and non-debtors would receive a cash injection.


Properly managed, these injections need not create inflation. (See my earlier article here.) Money is created as loans and extinguished when they are paid off, so the money used to pay down debt would be extinguished along with the debt. Cash injections not used to pay down debt would just help fill the gap between real and potential productivity, allowing demand and supply to rise together, keeping prices stable.

A regular injection of money into personal bank accounts has been called a “universal basic income,” but it would be better to call it a “national dividend”—something all citizens are entitled to equally, without regard to economic status or ability to work. It would serve as a safety net for people living paycheck to paycheck, but the larger purpose would be as economic policy to stimulate demand and productivity to keep the wheels of industry turning.


Money might then indeed become a servant of humanity, transformed from a tool of oppression into a means of securing common prosperity. But first the central bank needs to be made a public utility, responsive to the needs of the people and the economy.  In other words, it needs to become a public servant once and for all.


ABOUT DR ELLEN BROWN

[email protected]

Ellen Brown is a signature news reporter and adviser of Global News Aruba and she is the founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles. She developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In the best-selling Web of Debt (2007, 2012), she turned those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust,” showing how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.


"The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution"
By Dr Ellen Brown Attorney at Law
Vice Editor in Chief & Adviser
Global News Aruba International News Agency
( Los Angeles California - 01/24-01/27.2019 )

The “Green New Deal” endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., and more than 40 other House members has been criticized as imposing a too-heavy burden on the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it. However, taxing the rich is not what the Green New Deal resolution proposes. It says funding would come primarily from certain public agencies, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and “a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks.”

Funding through the Federal Reserve may be controversial, but establishing a national public infrastructure and development bank should be a no-brainer. The real question is why we don’t already have one, as do China, Germany and other countries that are running circles around us in infrastructure development. Many European, Asian and Latin American countries have their own national development banks, as well as belong to bilateral or multinational development institutions that are jointly owned by multiple governments. Unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve, which considers itself “independent” of government, national development banks are wholly owned by their governments and carry out public development policies.

China not only has its own China Infrastructure Bank but has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which counts many Asian and Middle Eastern countries in its membership, including Australia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion-dollar “One Belt One Road” infrastructure initiative. China is so far ahead of the United States in building infrastructure that Dan Slane, a former adviser on President Donald Trump’s transition team, has warned, “If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.”

The leader in renewable energy, however, is Germany, called “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.” Germany has a public sector development bank called KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau or “Reconstruction Credit Institute”), which is even larger than the World Bank. Along with Germany’s nonprofit Sparkassen banks, KfW has largely funded the country’s green energy revolution.

Unlike private commercial banks, KfW does not have to focus on maximizing short-term profits for its shareholders while turning a blind eye to external costs, including those imposed on the environment. The bank has been free to support the energy revolution by funding major investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Its fossil fuel investments are close to zero. One of the key features of KfW, as with other development banks, is that much of its lending is driven in a strategic direction determined by the national government. Its key role in the green energy revolution has been played within a public policy framework under Germany’s renewable energy legislation, including policy measures that have made investment in renewables commercially attractive.

KfW is one of the world’s largest development banks, with assets totaling$566.5 billion as of December 2017. Ironically, the initial funding for its capitalization came from the United States, through the Marshall Plan in 1948. Why didn’t we fund a similar bank for ourselves? Simply because powerful Wall Street interests did not want the competition from a government-owned bank that could make below-market loans for infrastructure and development. Major U.S. investors today prefer funding infrastructure through public-private partnerships, in which private partners can reap the profits while losses are imposed on local governments.

KfW and Germany’s Energy Revolution

Renewable energy in Germany is mainly based on wind, solar and biomass. Renewables generated 41 percent of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from just 6 percent in 2000; and public banks provided over 72 percent of the financing for this transition. In 2007-09, KfW funded all of Germany’s investment in Solar Photovoltaic. After that, Solar PV was introduced nationwide on a major scale. This is the sort of catalytic role that development banks can play—kickstarting a major structural transformation by funding and showcasing new technologies and sectors.

KfW is not only one of the biggest financial institutions but has been ranked one of the two safest banks in the world. (The other, Switzerland’s Zurich Cantonal Bank, is also publicly owned.) KfW sports triple-A ratings from all three major rating agencies—Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s. The bank benefits from these top ratings and the statutory guarantee of the German government, which allow it to issue bonds on very favorable terms and therefore to lend on favorable terms, backing its loans with the bonds.

KfW does not work through public-private partnerships, and it does not trade in derivatives and other complex financial products. It relies on traditional lending and grants. The borrower is responsible for loan repayment. Private investors can participate, but not as shareholders or public-private partners. Rather, they can invest in “Green Bonds,” which are as safe and liquid as other government bonds and are prized for their green earmarking. The first “Green Bond—Made by KfW” was issued in 2014 with a volume of $1.7 billion and a maturity of five years. It was the largest Green Bond ever at the time of issuance and generated so much interest that the order book rapidly grew to $3.02 billion, although the bonds paid an annual coupon of only 0.375 percent. By 2017, the issue volume of KfW Green Bondsreached $4.21 billion.

Investors benefit from the high credit and sustainability ratings of KfW, the liquidity of its bonds, and the opportunity to support climate and environmental protection. For large institutional investors with funds that exceed the government deposit insurance limit, Green Bonds are the equivalent of savings accounts—a safe place to park their money that provides a modest interest. Green Bonds also appeal to “socially responsible” investors, who have the assurance with these simple and transparent bonds that their money is going where they want it to. The bonds are financed by KfW from the proceeds of its loans, which are also in high demand due to their low interest rates, which the bank can offer because its high ratings allow it to cheaply mobilize funds from capital markets and its public policy-oriented loans qualify it for targeted subsidies.

Roosevelt’s Development Bank: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation

KfW’s role in implementing government policy parallels that of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) in funding the New Deal in the 1930s. At that time, U.S. banks were bankrupt and incapable of financing the country’s recovery. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to set up a system of 12 public “industrial banks” through the Federal Reserve, but the measure failed. Roosevelt then made an end run around his opponents by using the RFC that had been set up earlier by President Herbert Hoover, expanding it to address the nation’s financing needs.

The RFC Act of 1932 provided the RFC with capital stock of $500 million and the authority to extend credit up to $1.5 billion (subsequently increased several times). With those resources, from 1932 to 1957 the RFC loaned or invested more than $40 billion. As with KfW’s loans, its funding source was the sale of bonds, mostly to the Treasury itself. Proceeds from the loans repaid the bonds, leaving the RFC with a net profit. The RFC financed roads, bridges, dams, post offices, universities, electrical power, mortgages, farms and much more; it funded all of this while generating income for the government.

The RFC was so successful that it became America’s largest corporation and the world’s largest banking organization. Its success, however, may have been its nemesis. Without the emergencies of depression and war, it was a too-powerful competitor of the private banking establishment; and in 1957, it was disbanded under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That’s how the  United States was left without a development bank at the same time Germany and other countries were hitting the ground running with theirs.

Today some U.S. states have infrastructure and development banks, including California, but their reach is very small. One way they could be expanded to meet state infrastructure needs would be to turn them into depositories for state and municipal revenue. Rather than lending their capital directly in a revolving fund, this would allow them to leverage their capital into 10 times that sum in loans, as all depository banks are able to do, as I’ve previously explained.

The most profitable and efficient way for national and local governments to finance public infrastructure and development is with their own banks, as the impressive track records of KfW and other national development banks have shown. The RFC showed what could be done even by a country that was technically bankrupt, simply by mobilizing its own resources through a publicly owned financial institution. We need to resurrect that public funding engine today, not only to address the national and global crises we are facing now but for the ongoing development the country needs in order to manifest its true potential.


Copyright Reserved to Ellen Brown Juris Doctor

Contact [email protected]

Ellen Brown is the founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles. She developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In the best-selling Web of Debt (2007, 2012), she turned those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust,” showing how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.

In The Public Bank Solution (2013) she traces the evolution of two banking models that have competed historically, public and private; and explores contemporary public banking systems globally. She has presented these ideas at scores of conferences in the US and abroad, including in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela.

Brown developed an interest in the developing world and its problems while living abroad for eleven years in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. She returned to practicing law when she was asked to join the legal team of a popular Tijuana healer with an innovative cancer therapy, who was targeted by the chemotherapy industry in the 1990s. That experience produced her book Forbidden Medicine, which traces the suppression of natural health treatments to the same corrupting influences  that have captured the money system. She also co-authored the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, which has sold 285,000 copies.

Ellen ran for California State Treasurer in 2014 with the endorsement of the Green Party garnering a record number of votes for a Green Party candidate.  The Public Banking Institute is at http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

" UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME IS EASIER THAN IT LOOKS "
by Juris Doctor Ellen Brown
Adviser and Senior News Reporter 
Global News Aruba

Calls for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) have been increasing, most recently as part of the “Green New Deal” introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A UBI is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” among other vehicles.

The Federal Reserve alone could do the job. It could buy “Green” federal bonds with money created on its balance sheet, just as the Fed funded the purchase of $3.7 trillion in bonds in its “quantitative easing” program to save the banks. The Treasury could also do it. The Treasury has the constitutional power to issue coins in any denomination, even trillion dollar coins. What prevents legislators from pursuing those options is the fear of hyperinflation from excess “demand” (spendable income) driving prices up. But in fact the consumer economy is chronically short of spendable income, due to the way money enters the consumer economy. We actually need regular injections of money to avoid a “balance sheet recession” and allow for growth, and a UBI is one way to do it.

The pros and cons of a UBI are hotly debated and have been discussed elsewhere. The point here is to show that it could actually be funded year after year without driving up taxes or prices. New money is continually being added to the money supply, but it is added as debt created privately by banks. (How banks, rather than the government, create most of the money supply today is explained on the Bank of England website here.) A UBI would replace money-created-as-debt with debt-free money—a “debt jubilee” for consumers—while leaving the money supply for the most part unchanged; and to the extent that new money was added, it could help create the demand needed to fill the gap between actual and potential productivity.

The Debt Overhang Crippling Economies

The “bank money” composing most of the money in circulation is created only when someone borrows, and today businesses and consumers are burdened with debts that are higher than ever before. In 2018, credit card debt alone exceeded $1 trillion, student debt exceeded $1.5 trillion, auto loan debt exceeded $1.1 trillion, and non-financial corporate debt hit $5.7 trillion. When businesses and individuals pay down old loans rather than taking out new loans, the money supply shrinks, causing a “balance sheet recession.” In that situation, the central bank, rather than removing money from the economy (as the Fed is doing now), needs to add money to fill the gap between debt and the spendable income available to repay it.

Debt always grows faster than the money available to repay it. One problem is the interest, which is not created along with the principal, so more money is always owed back than was created in the original loan. Beyond that, some of the money created as debt is held off the consumer market by “savers” and investors who place it elsewhere, making it unavailable to companies selling their wares and the wage-earners they employ. The result is a debt bubble that continues to grow until it is not sustainable and the system collapses, in the familiar death spiral euphemistically called the “business cycle.” As economist Michael Hudson shows in his 2018 book, “… and Forgive Them Their Debts,” this inevitable debt overhang was corrected historically with periodic “debt jubilees”—debt forgiveness—something he argues we need to do again today.

For governments, a debt jubilee could be effected by allowing the central bank to buy government securities and hold them on its books. For individuals, one way to do it fairly across the board would be with a UBI.

Why a UBI Need Not Be Inflationary

In a 2018 book called “The Road to Debt Bondage: How Banks Create Unpayable Debt,” political economist Derryl Hermanutz proposes a central-bank-issued UBI of $1,000 per month, credited directly to people’s bank accounts. Assuming this payment went to all U.S. residents over 18, or about 241 million people, the outlay would be about $3 trillion annually. For people with overdue debt, Hermanutz proposes that it automatically go to pay down those debts. Since money is created as loans and extinguished when they are repaid, that portion of a UBI disbursement would be extinguished along with the debt.

People who were current on their debts could choose whether or not to pay them down, but many would also no doubt go for that option. Hermanutz estimates that roughly half of a UBI payout could be extinguished in this way through mandatory and voluntary loan repayments. That money would not increase the money supply or demand. It would just allow debtors to spend on necessities with debt-free money rather than hocking their futures with unrepayable debt.

He estimates that another third of a UBI disbursement would go to “savers” who did not need the money for expenditures. This money, too, would not be likely to drive up consumer prices, since it would go into investment and savings vehicles rather than circulating in the consumer economy. That leaves only about one-sixth of payouts, or $500 billion, that would actually be competing for goods and services; and that sum could easily be absorbed by the “output gap” between actual and forecasted productivity.

According to a July 2017 paper from the Roosevelt Institute called “What Recovery? The Case for Continued Expansionary Policy at the Fed”: “GDP remains well below both the long-run trend and the level predicted by forecasters a decade ago. In 2016, real per capita GDP was 10% below the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 2006 forecast, and shows no signs of returning to the predicted level.”

The report showed that the most likely explanation for this lackluster growth was inadequate demand. Wages have remained stagnant; and before producers will produce, they need customers knocking on their doors.

In 2017, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product was $19.4 trillion. If the economy is running at 10 percent below full capacity, $2 trillion could be injected into the economy every year without creating price inflation. It would just generate the demand needed to stimulate an additional $2 trillion in GDP. In fact a UBI might pay for itself, just as the G.I. Bill produced a sevenfold return from increased productivity after World War II.

The Evidence of China

That new money can be injected year after year without triggering price inflation is evident from a look at China. In the last 20 years, its M2 money supply has grown from just over 10 trillion yuan to 80 trillion yuan ($11.6T), a nearly 800 percent increase. Yet the inflation rate of its Consumer Price Index (CPI) remains a modest 2.2 percent.

Why has all that excess money not driven prices up? The answer is that China’s Gross Domestic Product has grown at the same fast clip as its money supply. When supply (GDP) and demand (money) increase together, prices remain stable.

Whether or not the Chinese government would approve of a UBI, it does recognize that to stimulate productivity, the money must get out there first; and since the government owns 80 percent of China’s banks, it is in a position to borrow money into existence as needed. For “self-funding” loans—those that generate income (fees for rail travel and electricity, rents for real estate)—repayment extinguishes the debt along with the money it created, leaving the net money supply unchanged. When loans are not repaid, the money they created is not extinguished; but if it goes to consumers and businesses that then buy goods and services with it, demand will still stimulate the production of supply, so that supply and demand rise together and prices remain stable.

Without demand, producers will not produce and workers will not get hired, leaving them without the funds to generate supply, in a vicious cycle that leads to recession and depression. And that cycle is what our own central bank is triggering now.

The Fed Tightens the Screws

Rather than stimulating the economy with new demand, the Fed has been engaging in “quantitative tightening.” On Dec. 19, 2018, it raised the Fed funds rate for the ninth time in three years, despite a “brutal” stock market in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average had already lost 3,000 points in 2 ½ months. The Fed is still struggling to reach even its modest 2 percent inflation target, and GDP growth is trending down, with estimates at only 2-2.7 percent for 2019. So why did it again raise rates, over the protests of commentators, including the president himself?

For its barometer, the Fed looks at whether the economy has hit “full employment,” which it considers to be 4.7 percent unemployment, taking into account the “natural rate of unemployment” of people between jobs or voluntarily out of work. At full employment, workers are expected to demand more wages, causing prices to rise. But unemployment is now officially at 3.7 percent—beyond technical full employment—and neither wages nor consumer prices have shot up. There is obviously something wrong with the theory, as is evident from a look at Japan, where prices have long refused to rise despite a serious lack of workers.

The official unemployment figures are actually misleading. Including short-term discouraged workers, the rate of U.S. unemployed or underemployed workers as of May 2018 was 7.6 percent, double the widely reported rate. When long-term discouraged workers are included, the real unemployment figure was 21.5 percent. Beyond that large untapped pool of workers, there is the seemingly endless supply of cheap labor from abroad and the expanding labor potential of robots, computers and machines. In fact, the economy’s ability to generate supply in response to demand is far from reaching full capacity today.

Our central bank is driving us into another recession based on bad economic theory. Adding money to the economy for productive, non-speculative purposes will not drive up prices so long as materials and workers (human or mechanical) are available to create the supply necessary to meet demand; and they are available now. There will always be price increases in particular markets when there are shortages, bottlenecks, monopolies or patents limiting competition, but these increases are not due to an economy awash with money. Housing, health care, education and gas have all gone up, but it is not because people have too much money to spend. In fact it is those necessary expenses that are driving people into unrepayable debt, and it is this massive debt overhang that is preventing economic growth.

Without some form of debt jubilee, the debt bubble will continue to grow until it can again no longer be sustained. A UBI can help correct that problem without fear of “overheating” the economy, so long as the new money is limited to filling the gap between real and potential productivity and goes into generating jobs, building infrastructure and providing for the needs of the people, rather than being diverted into the speculative, parasitic economy that feeds off them.


Copyright Reserved to Ellen Brown

Contact [email protected]