Can we democratize money? Yes we can!

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FairFin is a small Brussels based NGO striving for a financial sector that serves a sustainable and just society. For many years, money creation was not on FairFin’s radar. The problem of interest, yes, investments as a common, sure; we even pioneered our way towards creating new currencies in Belgium. But money creation as such, was never debated in our campaigns.

Which was not all too weird, as we learned at the workshop ‘Can we democratize money?’. As Fran Boait from Positive Money explained, even economists kind of forgot about the fact that private banks create our money every time they give a loan. The issue returned on the agenda when banks were restrained in giving loans after the crisis and the economy was short of money. The ECB started the Quantitative Easing program, creating 60 billion per month. In theory this money should trickle down to society, but in fact it gets stuck in financial markets, creating even more inequality.

One of the solutions presented at this workshop is what Stan Jourdan from the the QE4people campaign suggests: invest the created money into public investments and/or in a people’s dividend ( a concept that is often referred to as ‘helicopter money’) to stimulate the real economy. You can find out more about this proposal at the QE4People website

A great example of financial education on this topic can be found in The Netherlands, where a theatre group made a play on money creation. It became a big hit and it was performed over 100 times for tens of thousands of people. Together with the Ons Geld (Our Money) foundation, they assembled 130.000 signatures in favor of putting money creation on the political agenda.

Yesterday, Ons Geld published a working paper, exploring the basic frame-work for introduction of a virtual euro (digital cash) in the Eurozone, as a substitute for euro denominated bank money. An introduction to the virtual euro is available at: https://onsgeld.nu/onsgeld/2017/the_virtual_euro.pdf The working paper is available at: https://onsgeld.nu/onsgeld/2017/deleverage_without_crunch.pdf Edgar Wortmann, representative of Ons Geld, explained how this idea of virtual money is very new and does not have a strong opposition at the moment, as the people in high offices do not yet get it.

“But, by creating one general virtual euro, won’t we be serving old wine in new bottles?” asks Sander Van Parijs, project officer at Muntuit, network for community currencies in Belgium. The financial system benefits from a divers ecosystem with several currencies, all serving different purposes, he claims following Bernard Lietaer. By involving communities in the creation of those currencies, democracy is strengthened.

Democracy, creativity and exchange of ideas is what we need! A passionate crowd certainly proved that the ingredients are there. We hope we can offer a follow-up of this debate in the near future.

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