Home > Central banking > The best description of central banking ever written

The best description of central banking ever written

All around us, the gross failure of modern economics screams out to be addressed. The towering indifference of those shining offices scraping the sky above the menacing ghettos of Brooklyn; the speculative channelling of billions of pounds of volatile international finance, which can leave a country prosperous one week and plunged into decline the next; the ludicrous production of cheap goods of poor durability, so that jobs are ‘protected’, and we can recycle the materials and make the goods all over again; the ridiculous export drives by which every country simultaneously attacks the economies of every other nation, under the pretence that such global free trade improves the general wellbeing; the staggering waste of a throwaway, quick-growth, all-new spiral of constant economic change; the outrageous financial debt which Third World countries have actually paid many times over, but which, due to interest, is now larger than ever before – a debt which forces those impoverished nations to compete to supply goods already in surplus; the cynical manipulation of human emotions into buying fashion-obsessed trivia; the burgeoning transport demands of escalating economic growth and centralisation, with identical goods crisscrossing the globe, regardless of environmental cost; the fact that despite the incredible productive capacity of the modern economy, people are obliged to work harder, with ever greater efficiency, forever forced to adapt and retrain or face a life of indignity and misery as one of the unemployed.

Both those in work and out must watch, as the world they know and understand changes almost in front of their eyes like some nightmarish Kafka-esque novel. This is the era of accelerating economic change. The benefits are highly dubious, and no-one even pretends that the economy is responding to what people actually want. The only justification offered for the changes is that this is ‘the age of progress’, and ‘you can’t stop progress’, even if you are human and the progress you are discussing is supposed to be about people and the lives they might lead in the future. The world of economics has got mankind by the throat and everyone knows it, and no-one has a clue where we are going or why we are going there.

But is this surprising? If a monetary system is invalid or flawed, then the entire economy is based on the mathematics of error, and must be riddled with the effects. If the financial system upon which our economies are built is defective, and yet monetary considerations dominate our economic decisions, should we be surprised if the results are less than satisfactory?

The major role played by bank credit, which forms over 95% of the money stock in most developed nations, suggests that it cannot but be implicated in these trends. This is further suggested by the way that banking has literally become the focal point of modern economic management, through manipulating interest rates. The stargazers of Whitehall and the Federal Reserve hold their councils, trying to tread the non-existent tightrope between growth and recession by debating quarter percentage-points of interest rates. Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, engagingly describes his task in controlling the American economy through adjusting interest rates as a matter of ‘taking the champagne away once the party has started’. Businessmen around the world hold their breath, measuring his every word, wondering what he will decide. There could be no greater indictment of contemporary financial economics than this; that a fluctuating financial digit on a single computer system in a single street in a single country should have the ability to dominate the economies of an entire planet.

Micheal Rowbotham, The Grip of Death.

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Categories: Central banking
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