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Don't believe the hype

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Stephanie Flanders | 17:15 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Don't believe the hype. They are still arguing over some parts of the agreement to be signed by G20 leaders tomorrow, but there's no grand ideological battle, over the nature of capitalism, or anything else.

And none of the G20 officials I've spoken to can come up with a reason for the French president to walk out.

The G20 sherpas are still debating the text as I write. But on two of the big issues - stimulus and financial sector regulation - the text is more or less agreed, and very close to where we thought it would be.

There are some disputes at the margins of the financial regulation segment - for example, over how, exactly, to "name and shame" tax havens that don't cooperate with agreed standards on information-sharing.

sarkozy_getty226.jpgThe French seem to be playing these procedural disputes for all their worth - after all, French presidents need victories to declare. But on the broad outlines of the regulatory system that will come out of this process - everyone is on the same page. (As I've written before, that wasn't always true, but it is now.)

The same applies to the stimulus debate. The Americans and British are pushing for clear language that says governments will implement the stimulus measures they have already announced, and do more, as needed, with the IMF given the job of assessing whether countries have done enough. They believe they have now got that commitment, especially given the French President's comments in the Washington Post this morning.

So where are the big gaps? The gaps are numbers - most importantly, the amount of money for the IMF. As of now, Gordon Brown has an extra $250bn for the Fund, made up of commitments by the EU, Japan, China and a few others. That would double the money the Fund has to lend emerging market economies in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

But the US wants to treble it - to $750bn. It's not clear whether they can rustle up that much extra cash in the next few hours, but they seem to be having a try.

America would put up $100bn (though strictly speaking that's subject to Congressional vote), but that would still leave another $150bn. And they still have to decide how, exactly, the money would get to the Fund.

There are other numbers up for grabs: for example, the amount of money committed to help the poorest countries, and headline figure for trade finance, which should top $100bn though quite a lot of that will already have been announced by national governments.

So, some critical details to discuss, but, once again, don't believe the hype: they're financial, not ideological.


  • Comment number 1.

    I suggest think something stronger than naming and shaming will be necessary before our friendly, local tax havens will open up in any meaningful way.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sounds hopeful. I think the psychological signals that come out of this are more important, in the short term, than the details of the proposals. And if the leaders can credibly declare that they have put in place the right structures, it will send a powerful message.

    I am particularly pleased by the message on fiscal stimulus. To incorporate this as, in essence, a standard regulatory measure monitored by the IMF will give moral authority to the funding of stimulus programmes, and give markets confidence that they're more likely to happen - which in turn will make them less necessary.

  • Comment number 3.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why don't you at the BBC stop pretending that the public
    believe anything what Brown and Obama say.
    They are nothing but puppets for the hidden elite and
    we know that....!
    This so called banking crisis is virtual, as the system creates money from nothing in the first place.
    So no real reason for the credit crunch except
    to make a problem, get the public reaction and then
    present the solution, in order to move along the agenda
    of the global elite.
    Its why Brown says: GLOBAL SOLUTIONS

    [HYSMASTER], SHREWSBURY, United Kingdom

  • Comment number 5.

    The big battle will not be on stimulus/stimuli and financial sector regulations but in the reserve currency arena and the voting share arena !! The countries with the cash want a new reserve currency and a change in voting share and the broke old guard want status quo !!

    Will the US pay the IMF in quantitatively eased dollars and, thereby, making a mockery of the claim that the US$ is a stable reserve currency ?? The share of votes will change dramatically when every country has to cough up to the tune of its voting share. Each vote being worth approximately 100,000 SDRs or the real world equivalent thereof !!

  • Comment number 6.

    Thank you, Stephanie, for your cool calm assessment of the G20 situation.

    It's a great pity that more of your colleagues will not stop their Mickey Mouse presentations, aimed at 10 year-olds along with some exciting and speculative rhetoric thrown in for good measure.

    Interesting that you mention that a French president has always to report a victory. It reminds me of Gen Charly De Gaule and his regular use of the word "Non" in the early days of the EEC.

  • Comment number 7.

    regarding practical 'Stimulus' measures: why has there not been an AGENDA item on Super-Broadband enabling an ICT society, via 'Joined Up Policy'. This is both National & International in generating Jobs & GDP, and could have formed a 'Common Theme' with SPECIFIC ACTION PLANS. These can all be done without need for further subsidies. Obama has put Broadband into his domestic policy, others could also do so. Viviane Reding EC Commissioner, is looking for a 'Worthy Cause' to unite Europe, this could be it. she states: 4.8 Million Jobs & 158 Bn Euro GDP.

  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry Stephanie but just repeating your briefing by the Commissariat isn't good enough. You really must learn to be a proper journalist.

    We - the UK and USA - support the Anglo Saxon Economic Model. Everyone else doesn't.

  • Comment number 9.

    Am very concerned to know where the G20 is on ensuring that protectionism does not get out of hand. Seems to me this is the most important issue of all. What is your take on this?

  • Comment number 10.

    Magic show. Slight of hand. Opportunity to do something different is lost. It is individuals that have lost money not the banks or investment companies. This is an updated "Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy." Group of telephone sanitizers.

  • Comment number 11.

    What did everybody expect? The measures given above will not sove the problem. It will not even stave it off. It may make the stock markets look good for a day or two but that is all. However, now the fun reallt starts.

    Just as events waited for Obama to come to power, it has waited for this summit. Now it knows that all that is being proposed is more of the same. Now just watch the chikens come home to roost!

  • Comment number 12.

    And? ,......So?

    What the hell is going on here? Is this when all journalists just nervously talk boring nonsense and wait for something decisive to happen?

    I'll make the bold step on their behalf: THERE IS AN IDEOLOGICAL WAR BEING FOUGHT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS but they all know there is nothing that can be done, because there are only two viable outcomes:
    a) War, devolution, nationalism, death, hunger, etc
    b) Cooperation, shared reserve currencies, dissolution of the IMF and World Bank to be replaced by new entities, the introduction of the BANCOR based on either modified SDRs or GOLD, the end of the US as military/economic power, decoupling of oil from USD

  • Comment number 13.

    "Don't believe the hype."

    You should have stopped there. Until you and your colleagues stop feeding their spin-doctors they are going to keep performing, but you must know that, as you have worked for Larry Summers, so really, you and your colleagues are instruments of their hype.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm afraid I agree with the views of #11 foredeckdave and #12 franksz

    Obviously there was going to be a general, blandish agreement on a communique; and sure Sarkozy may be playing it for all it's worth for the folks back home; but Angela Merckel is a rather more serious person IMO; and none of the BRICs are happy at all and want a new game with new rules

    In fact there is no consensus behind the scenes at all; they don't have the faintest idea what to do next, and if they did know what to do they still couldn't decide how to proceed and do it

    Obama has admitted as much himself; look into his eyes; sadly he's already been at least partly captured by the group-think of the big banks and corportations; he needs to think more radically before it's too late

    What do you think is going to happen next week, next month, the next 6 months, the next year? more unco-ordinated national bail-outs and sticking plasters, that's what! Japan are already on to their 3rd proposed stimulus package

    as for our Glorious Leader, he needs a much bigger claimed G20 success than Sarkozy

    seems to me that now that you've got the plum job Stephanie you're suddently writing bland pro-Labour/govt stuff like Mr Peston usually produces! and Peston, forced to analyse sales of boxer shorts at M and S instead of getting to interview these great world leaders, showed signs of a more critical script today

    what ever is going on? surely you aren't being pressured to tow a pro-govt / BBC management line are you?

  • Comment number 15.

    Just saw News at Ten and I must say that the BBC's sickening sycophancy towards Gordon Brown the great host was only surpassed by Gordon's sycophantic back-flips towards Obama; and then the BBC followed that by reporting on the largely peaceful demonstrations in the City with extensive coverage of the half dozen possibly Italian anarchists who broke the windows at RBS (although RBS was worth trillions until recently it seems that they couldn't afford bomb-proof glass in the good times or even a few sheets of plyboard last week)

    And that report was followed by Stephanie herself, who was positively beaming and wearing a very fetching Lady Dracula-style outfit; I get the feeling that meeting all of these world leaders in the last 2 or 3 days has rather gone to her head

    Stephanie you said that the 'language' of the communique is nearly agreed

    Well 'language' and phrases do not save the autoworkers or millions of others who will lose their jobs, or the up to 50 million children from starving to death in LDCs in the coming year as a direct result of this economic collapse

    I think Nick Robinson, who followed you, was a bit nearer the mark in saying that the sherpas can rehash the ingredients of the communique so that everyone can sign up to it without the words meaning anything at all

    As they say, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating of it over the next 6 months to a year

    Also I'd like to see the BBC up their game significantly as today's reporting was uncritical and lacked analysis; fewer and fewer of us believe this la-de-la establishment whitewash any more you know

  • Comment number 16.

    foredeckdave # 11

    "The measures given above will not sove the problem. It will not even stave it off."

    Correct Dave. In fact, the "measures" will prolong the "banana"!

    FrankSz # 12

    "What the hell is going on here?"

    Government trickery, Frank! An illusion; that's what is going on, I think you'll agree.

    JadedJean # 13

    For once, you are right!

  • Comment number 17.

    LibertarianKurt (#16) "For once, you are right"

    Mark my words: I am right more often than I am wrong...most come round in the end .... :-(.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just for the record, on grandiosity, paranoia and ...narcissism...

  • Comment number 19.

    "Mark my words: I am right more often than I am wrong...most come round in the end."

    Hmmm...a very authoritative statement. Is that how "Democratic-Centralism" works?


  • Comment number 20.

    The thing is, Golem Brown needs any fiscal stimulus to work this fiscal year just started. The next fiscal year is supposed to see the reverse - the raising of taxation and a squeeze on public spending.
    The German stimulus, already announced, is larger than the Golem's (3% of GDP against 1.4% of GDP) and spread over a couple of years.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's hope the IMF gets the money. So they can help when - inevitably - the UK asks for a rescue!

  • Comment number 22.

    The French desire to control America will be rebuffed again just as it was with Iraq, just as it always is. American financial institutions will come under increased American regulators, not by a would be world government in waiting. The British may have succumbed to fears that caused them to relinquish their sovereignty but that is where they and America part company.

  • Comment number 23.

    MarcusAureliusII Will these American regulators come from the same tribe who led you into the mess in the first place or have you found another bunch to mess things up even more?

  • Comment number 24.

    I would agree with the stimulus package. It lowers the world financial risk in the short term. As to the regulation issue, it seems to me very difficult to find a unique specific regulation which is optimal for all countries in very different economic and social situation. But perhaps some agreement could be made on basic principles in the G20 scenario. Or have these agreements already been made?

  • Comment number 25.

    there is no agreement,
    and they are no close.
    it's all about the money.
    our elites broke us, they are selling us out now.
    BBC and proEU payrolls, like this blog should stop fooling people.
    there can be no agreement without a sellout of our elites.
    China is asking for 'blood'

  • Comment number 26.

    just saying the agreement is close in my opinion, is just bulshiting.
    money is the issue. Doha was about money, and everything is about money.. thats why there is no ideological differences, but how will make more money and who will sell out to keep the status of elites.

  • Comment number 27.

    Some interesting reading in The Atlantic from Simon Johnson, chief economist at the IMF in 2007 and 2008.

    His analysis? The Obama Administration is influenced far too much by the Wall Street bunch that created this securitization mess in the first place.

    His solution? Nationalise and break up the fundamentally insolvent US banks.

    Canadian Pinko

  • Comment number 28.

    There will be an agreement to have financial stimulus between them. This is a given since they have all done it or are doing it. The dispute is not that but in the form and manner of the stimuli(?) !! Both US and Crash Gordon want other countries to finance *their* stimuli !! The other countries are objecting to that.

    Frau Nein put it most succinctly !! Germany will *NOT* finance GM's home debts. It will only help Opel (GM Germany) !! If GM wants another sucker to finance them, they will have to look elsewhere. Obama has given GM 60 days to find an answer or go bust !! Germany will use its surpluses on its stimulus.

    What the other G20 countries want is that there will be *NO* quantitative easing to fund any stimuli !! Crash Gordon's rhetoric and posturing has been shown up for what it is - the emperor has no clothes !! Obama's $1 trillion stimulus funded by more debts is coming back to bite him !! That's why he's not a happy chappy !! That's why he's also not happy when the car makers, GM and Chrysler, asked for more money to fund their lavish lifestyle - private jets and megabucks salaries !!

    These countries have funded a lavish lifestyle by printing money and the other countries want no part in that. So they are asking for a new impartial reserve currency. And they will get it too !! The Chinese have offered to buy as many SDRs as is needed but they didn't offer to buy a penny's worth of Crash Gordon's wonderful Gilts !! President Lula said that white blue-eyed bankers made the mess and they should wipe their own bottoms !! Prince Vlad the Ventriloquist passed on the message through his president that the Russians just want a new reserve currency and no arguments about that !! Iran and Venezuela already price their oil in Euros. It's only a short step to pricing them in SDRs !! No SDRs, no oil !! Try next door; they might be sucker enough to take devalued and devaluing dollars or quids !!

    That's the message that Merv the Nerve passed on to Crash Gordon that punctured his pipe dreams and got the entire cabinet scrambling madly around trying to "manage expectations" that their Glorious Leader didn't mean what he said and that there will be less that can be delivered than had been hoped for or promised !!

    Concurrent with the battle for a new reserve currency will be the battle for voting share. Since votes can be expressed in the number of SDRs, the "donor" countries will demand more votes for their money. Consequently, this will reduce the votes of the "recipient" countries - of which one serious contender is UK PLC !!

    One interesting fact that few seemed to have considered is that when the IMF made their loan to Hungary, part of their terms forced them to cut their lavish public spending especially their version of the dole !! I wonder what terms they will force on UK PLC. and how will Crash Gordon spin his way out of it when he had promised heaven and earth to all and sundry !! The IMF will also insist on anti-protectionist measures that will be highly unpopular and make Crash Gordon unelectable forever !!

    Those who *think* that they have a God-given right to all the good things in life without having to earn them will find that they have sold their souls to the Devil !! And the Devil will be coming soon to harvest their souls !!

  • Comment number 29.

    Here is a good explanation why we are in this crisis:

  • Comment number 30.

    I have a small service business that turns over £6M or so and a farm.
    I am fortunate enough to have a reasonable cash pile and I have been trying to work out what to do with it; given that the stock market seems to be full of Elephant traps and the banks are either unsafe or not paying any interest worth talking about.
    My conclusion, if replicated by other small businesses, may be encouraging or it may encourage you to say "what an idiot".
    1)I will pay off my mortgage as the interest I am paying is several times the interest I get from the bank.
    2)I am going to invest in some machinery that will save my customers a significant amount of their costs as long as they will give me a contract for a reasonable period.
    3)I am going to invest in a grain store for the farm as this will reduce my production costs by far more than the loss of interest in the money and increase the relative value of the farm.
    I have been encouraged by the low value of money to spend it; and have discovered that if I can save my customers money they will bite my hand off.
    I suppose the purpose of this post is to say that as a holder of capital I have decided that money is worthless and I am better off spending it on things that have value.
    You may say that if I only wait I will get these things for less, and you may be right, but I am going ahead anyway.
    Green Shoots!

  • Comment number 31.

    #29 He asked this question "why is it that the present crisis of the American and world economy is not interpreted as a crisis and failure of the capitalist system?"

    But he answered himself in an earlier paragraph is saying that the USSR, etc. were not true representatives of Socialism. In the same manner, the US and other Western economies are not the true representatives of ALL capitalism !! This had been a problem from time immemorial with fanatics who shout "Death to *all* unbelievers" !! The Socialist fanatics are no different from the Muslim, Christian or Hindu fanatics !!

  • Comment number 32.

    28 ishkandar wrote

    "Iran and Venezuela already price their oil in Euros."

    You omit to mention that there are some small idealogical issues between these two countries and the US. The decision to use Euro's instead of Dollars was taken before the current economic crisis and has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Iran just doesn't want to use the "Evil" currency of "The Great Satan" and Venezuela has a long standing argument with the US. over air travel that led to PetroEuros from Chavez and his subsequent listing as part of Bush's axis of evil.

    OK, keep coming up with the pantomime names, if it amuses you, but try not to twist unrelated facts to suit your viewpoint, doing this just indicates that you have no real basis for your argument.

  • Comment number 33.

    This is what will save Britain from the recession, not rhetoric or spend, spend, spend !!

  • Comment number 34.

    Isn't 'Naming and shaming' just free advertising for the tax havens??

    If I was running a 'discreet' bank and collecting some nice fat bonuses, I'd be delighted if the French government announced where we customers could find us.

  • Comment number 35.


    I think you are right - the conference has "made for television" written all over it. As you say, it appears very similar to the Oscar ceremony.
    Even the "anarchists" were on red carpets surrounded by photographers.

    Presentation politics at its best/worst.

    Gordon Brown supported "light touch regulation" and but now he says the banks are to blame and it's all an international problem. He appears to fit your definition of a narcissist very well. He now seems very happy to be in the limelight; I've never seen him look so happy. He doesn't care that he's getting attention as a direct result of leading us into an economic long as he gets the attention he craves he is happy.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why is it that politicians are clamouring for economic stimulus and other measures to drive the economy out of recession? Could it have something to do with their own rather inflated view that they have the power to create economic growth, that political meddling solves problems? The G20 is not going to rescue the world economy, but it will rescue activities that cannot be afforded and that consumers do not want. It will sustain waste and promote inefficiency, draining resources from growth and efficiency. It will debase money and promote global inflation. At best it will be ineffective, at worst a disaster! What is needed is to let economic factors work free of the meddling and vote seeking behaviour of our politicians.

  • Comment number 37.

    No. 30. Wellcaught

    I think you are doing all the right things. You are putting your money into securing productivity gains and paying off your liabilities. Therefore, are you are investing your money wisely, rather than spending it. Good luck to you; you should do very well.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would be very surprised if the agreement with regard to a second fiscal stimulus is anything other than vague, open to interpretation and non-committal. It will be talked up no end by Brown of course but I doubt there will be much more of a stimulus in most of central Europe.

  • Comment number 39.

    its a bit worrying that the IMF will be having this international policing role since the institution is largely dictated by the US. to improve the credibility of the initiative the IMF needs to be reformed to better reflect the world we live in.

  • Comment number 40.

    Wellcaught #30- thats what you should do- it is how the system is theoretically supposed to work. Except when the money managers get on top and start making money out of money and it becomes more profitable for everyone to play with money, at least while the boom is on.

    The evidence that the control of journalists is complete is that they are corraled into one huge room. Factory churnalism at its worst.

  • Comment number 41.

    LibertarianKurt (#19) "Hmmm...a very authoritative statement. Is that how "Democratic-Centralism" works? ;)"

    Thus spoke a true anarchist. ;-)

  • Comment number 42.

    #32 "OK, keep coming up with the pantomime names, if it amuses you, but try not to twist unrelated facts to suit your viewpoint, doing this just indicates that you have no real basis for your argument."

    I said, "Iran and Venezuela already price their oil in Euros." !! Why is this statement incorrect ?? And how, pray tell, does any of your facts detract from the one I mentioned that "it is but a short step from Euros to SDRs" ?? And just what is the basis (real or otherwise) of *your* argument that this is twisted ??

    I have made absolutely no mention of whatever issues, ideological or otherwise, that might have influenced their pricing in Euros. It is *their* right to price *their* oil in whatever currency they like, be it US$, Euros, SDRs or Monopoly money !! So how am I "twisting unrelated facts to suit my viewpoint" !! Could it be "the wicked flee where no man persueth" ??

  • Comment number 43.

    G20 will be a load of horlicks:

    Sure some tax havens will lose their rules on information sharing but others will work out that economically they have more to gain by telling everyone where to go on information sharing.

    Bankers pay - maybe you can make it part of regulatory risk assessment but unless govt. is a shareholder in the bank any rules on pay will be got around by lawyers very quickly.

    Hedge funds: stands to reason that big funds will be regulated but will that simply mean more smaller funds?

  • Comment number 44.

    I am at a loss to understand as to why Gordon Brown and many other world leaders,are still here in this current situation. This global economic mess has been created over the last 10 years and is a result of leaders fiddling while the global economy burns.
    Indecision and waste have cost the taxpayer considerably and we are now no doublt expected to heap praise on Gordon and his bunch of cronies who got us into this mess in the first place.
    Do you think that a speeding motorist could be pardoned if he decided to drive more slowly in the future?

  • Comment number 45.

    #30 Paying off any loan is usually a good thing because it is the equivalent of "investing" in the "repayment" and the gain that you will make is in *NOT* paying OUT interest on that loan !!

    Investing in a grain store has both a capital gain and an income gain in that you will have a better value for your farm and a lower production cost from farming the grain.

    Since I don't know your customers, I cannot comment on this point except to say that, generally, customers will always try to get the best deal they can for themselves. This is only natural but it will not help you much in this instance. However, if you know your customers well and they seem reasonable people, you could try to negotiate a sharing of the cost of improvements so that there is a sharing of the lowering of the cost of the products - i.e. a win-win situation !!

    Then again, what the hell do I know about business ??

  • Comment number 46.

    MrTweedy (#35) "He appears to fit your definition of a narcissist very well. He now seems very happy to be in the limelight; I've never seen him look so happy. He doesn't care that he's getting attention as a direct result of leading us into an economic long as he gets the attention he craves he is happy.


    It's a serious problem with Liberal-Democracy and always has been as I see it. 'Never let your son wear a rosette Mrs Worthington' should perhaps complement the original advice, as both 'professions' attract narcissisits. Like the entertainment industry, Neo-liberal politics has largely been taken over by the PR business, and except for rare exceptions such as the bove, this PR industry censors/spins its hegemonic interests in a self-serving way, as one might expect. That's just business I guess, but is it democratic in the way that most people think of democracy?

    There's democracy and there's democracy (se teh PRC for a type of democracy), and here's a very long history of Neo-Liberalism ending in tears, but as you know, it's impossible to put older heds on young shoulders, and narcissists don't take criticism - just praise ('supply').

  • Comment number 47.

    #39 " improve the credibility of the initiative the IMF needs to be reformed to better reflect the world we live in..."

    I think this is the major battle going on behind the scenes right now. Of course, us plebs aren't allowed to see the blood flying. It would so detract from the kissy-kissy scenes and photo-opportunities !!

    Just watch how they slap each other on the backs. They are probably looking for the right spots to stick the knives in !! Perhaps even - Et tu, Brute !!

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Does the French president need a reason to walk out?

  • Comment number 50.

    rhubidium (#32) "OK, keep coming up with the pantomime names, if it amuses you, but try not to twist unrelated facts to suit your viewpoint, doing this just indicates that you have no real basis for your argument."

    First point, look into who the ideOlogical leader of the Iranian Revolution was (Shariati), and who he took as inspiration when he studied in France (if you look into it, many SE ASian revolutinaries found their way to France, they did not like the USA, why?). Then look into what sort of Marxist Sartre was - clue: he was not a Trotskyite.

    Second point: How are facts related, and how can one 'twist' facts? Try to learn something about The Underdetermination Thesis (it's basis is mathematical logic) and the mire of the intensional idioms which are anathema to science and reason. Failure to do so seriously limits one's grasp of what's going on and what 'clever' people get up to.

    Third (very worrying) point - on the Great and Little Satan. :-(

  • Comment number 51.

    No. 46. JadedJean

    The modern PR driven neo-liberal celebrity politicians encourage consumers to over-indulge. As a result, Britain has gone weak at the knees and ended up with a hefty economic crisis.

    The "Liberal Consumer Society" they call it.
    It's the stuff of nonsense. Liberal means any old tat, and consumer means we buy it.

    We've over-consumed and now we must pay a high price for our indulgence.

    We have nothing to look forward to but devaluation, price inflation, high unemployment and high taxation. What a bitter tasting cocktail.
    Dashed inconvenient.

  • Comment number 52.

    There are questions you might ask about the the Cause of the present crisis and therefore its Cure.

    Who decreed that democratic 21st-century societies must depend for their supply of money on banks creating it for their own profit? Not God; no Faith scriptures teach it. Not Nature; winds, tides, plants, trees, animals - none use money. Humans made this system work as it does. Intelligent humans can reform it.

    Most of the money now used in the international economy is money created as debt in the currency of one country, the US dollar. In national economies most of the money now used is created by commercial banks as debt, written into their customers' accounts as loans. (In the UK, for example, less than 5% is created as coins and banknotes by public agencies, and over 95% by commercial banks.) Central banks try to use changes in interest rates to control how much money the banks create.

    That isn't effective. All the ninety recent credit booms and busts in various parts of the world have taken a similar form. The banks have hugely profited by creating too much money in the booms, and have then received huge bail-outs in the busts in order to reactivate their privilege of providing the money supply.

    The conventional response to the present crisis is now combining a massive increase in future debt with new top-heavy regulation in order to reactivate the banks' privilege again. These features of the new "financial architecture" ignore what first-year students of architecture know: make sure the foundations are sound before you construct extensions to the upper floors and overload them with heavy burdens. The foundations of "financial architecture" are, of course, money and how it is created.

    International monetary reform has now been proposed by Brazil, Russia, India and China, to replace the US dollar with a more genuinely international currency administered by an international authority.

    Shouldn't national monetary reform follow that model? It would include:
    1) normalising "quantitative easing" by transferring responsibility to a nationalised central bank to create the debt-free additions to the national money supply which it judges to be in the public interest;
    2) requiring the central bank to give the money to the government to be spent into circulation under normal democratic budgetary procedures;
    3) making it a crime, like forging coins and counterfeiting banknotes, for anyone other than the central bank to create bank-account money; and
    4) denationalising recently nationalised commercial banks to compete unsubsidised in the market for borrowing and lending existing money.

    For practical details of that proposal, including safeguards against governments misusing the central bank's new function for their own political purposes, see (American Monetary Institute) and Newsletter 22 and links (UK).

  • Comment number 53.


    This article from the Guardian may be of interest to you.
    It says:
    "As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people's views of the US, and, indeed, of the Jews."

  • Comment number 54.

    #51 "We have nothing to look forward to but devaluation, price inflation, high unemployment and high taxation. What a bitter tasting cocktail."

    Not necessarily so !! Just this morning I posted a comment on a university spin-off company that's making flexible loudspeakers. Some high tech stuff that'll be world beaters *if only Britain can finance and market it properly* !! If we fail to do so, some foreign company will buy up the rights and make fortunes out of it !!

    It's in today's BBC news.

  • Comment number 55.

    #53 Interesting article but some of it is not factually true.

    "In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad. "

    Not true. During the time of the Three Kingdoms (around the middle of the third century), the chief strategist for the kingdom of Wei in the North was a certain Ssu-Ma Yi. Ssu-Ma is the Chinese transliteration of Simon (or Shimon), a Jewish surname(?), probably more like "ben Shimon". He was famous for out thinking everyone who came against him except for the chief strategist of the kingdom of Shu, Chuko Liang, who beat him every time. Even in his deathbed, Chuko Liang managed to give orders that outwitted Ssu-Ma Yi. Since Chuko Liang was considered a legendary genius, Ssu-Ma Yi was considered to be a very clever man who was only overcome by a legendary genius. Perhaps this is what gave rise to the believe amongst the East Asians that Jews are very clever people.

    BTW, the Japanese devour the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" as avidly, if not more avidly, as the Chinese do and many of the strategies used in it are still taught to this day. For that reason, the belief about the Jews may have traveled it this manner too.

    Historic note: Jews have been trading in China for more than 4,000 years. They were a main link with the Persian empire which gave, first the Egyptians, then the Greeks and then the Romans, such a hard time !! Roman nobility dressed in silks that had to travel through the Persian empire. Since the Romans and the Persians were not exactly friends, it was generally the Jews who carried on the trade !!

    Therefore a reputation for cleverness with money is perhaps deserved. However, what that has to do with the G20 meeting today, I have not the faintest idea !! :-)

  • Comment number 56.

    MrTweedy (#51) This, I suspect, is precisely why the German people gave Hitler the powers that they did in the 1930s. It was all spun very differently during and especially after WWII, but it would have been, wouldn't it? What one has to ask today is how Germany ever let itself deteriorate as it did in its Weimar Republic, Liberal-Democratic, decadent era. My concern for years has been that by taking the denazification propaganda so much to heart, we have in fact recreated precisely the conditions which prompted its emergence in the first place.

    I am not persuaded the G20 is doing anything to help - I fear they are just making matters worse, but now burdening tax-payers instead of private investors becasue the latter are fed up of the risks and dwindling numbers through changing Liberal-Democracies' demographics as I've tried to set out elsewhere.

  • Comment number 57.

    MrTweedy (#53) Thanks for that. The Chinese are, to the best of my knowledge (and experience), not just respected for their slightly higher average intelligence than Europeans, but also for their honour. They are not renowned for their innovation though.

    I conjecture that Jews, having a higher prevalence of the autosomal recessive polymorphism on C6p21 which results in Non Classic Adrenal Hyperplasia in homozygotes, shifts their brain-gender, slightly feminising more of their males and slightly androgenising more of their females than is the case in other groups. 1/3 Ashkenazim carry one CYP21 polymorphism and 1/27 are homozygous. This might explain their males' higher verbal/symbolic ability whilst lowering their spatial ability - it may also reduce their height through mild estrogenization. It might also explain why feminisim, higher emotionality and equality/political activism is so much more charateristic of this group.

  • Comment number 58.


    Now JJ this will just have to stop!! We agree again.

    The type of circumstances that provided Hitler with an almost perfect environment could easily be reproduced in the UK. It's not hard to envisage a disadvantaged working class (though fewer and fewer will actually be working), augmented by a middle class who feel disenfranchised and tax-burdened and a national feeling of being subjugated by the IMF. That would prove very fertile ground for the extreeme right. They would also have an easily identifiable and locateable scapegoat in the muslim communities.

    The difference between the UK in the 20s and 30s and now can be summed up in one word. RESPECT. As a nation we no longer hold our institutions or their members in respect. Is that a failure of the people or is it a failure of the insitutions themselves? Whilst, there can never be one simple answer, I believe it is the attitude and actions of the institutions that have led to this situation. They have managed, in a realtively short time to unpick the 'glue' that held us together. All they have left us with is the concept of Middle Britain to aspire to!


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