Monetary Scarcity

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If, the extension of the peer to peer mode is dependent on the creation of abundance, and if, in an age of distributed networks the power is located in the design of systems (protocollary power), then it matters hugely that the current monetary system is based on artificially creating scarcity.

Today's situation is paradoxical: an abundance of speculative money, but unavailability where it is needed.


The Problem

Bernard Lietaer on the artificial scarcity of the present money system

"For a bank-debt-based fiat currency system to function at all, scarcity must be artificially and systematically introduced and maintained." When a bank extends a loan, the borrower must pay it back with interest, which he competes with everyone else to procure from the limited amount of still-to-be-created money. Governments and their central banks must exercise careful control—through interest rates, margin reserve requirements, and, most important in the present era, purchase or sale of government securities on the open market—over the rate at which this new money is created, a difficult balancing act between tightness, which creates more scarcity, intensifies competition, and leads to bankruptcies, layoffs, concentration of wealth, and economic recession, and looseness, which creates less scarcity, higher inflation, and increased economic activity, but at the risk of runaway inflation and complete currency collapse. In order to prevent the latter eventuality, money must be kept scarce, consigning its users to perpetual competition and perpetual insecurity. (

Bernard Lietaer, on `98% of money streams being speculative'

"Your money's value is determined by a global casino of unprecedented proportions: $2 trillion are traded per day in foreign exchange markets, 100 times more than the trading volume of all the stockmarkets of the world combined. Only 2% of these foreign exchange transactions relate to the "real" economy reflecting movements of real goods and services in the world, and 98% are purely speculative. [...] Unless some precautions are taken soon, there is at least a 50-50 chance that the next five to ten years will see a global money meltdown, the only plausible way for a global depression."

Source: Bernard Lietaer's book, `The Future of Money', cited in

The Solution to Monetary Scarcity?

Greg Martin explains the basic idea behind Monetary Reform, in particular the ideas of Silvio Gesell:

"Basically Gesell proposed a fundamental change to the way money works; instead of collecting interest money should loose value or depreciate over time. Someone who holds a depreciating currency will want to spend it while it still has most of its value. This compulsion to spend will force money to circulate, making it easier to earn money as well.

Depreciating currency is also a fairer type of currency. Usually the person selling something is at a disadvantage to the person who has money. This is because goods are perishable, they go out of fashion and out of date. Money has none of these characteristics; it will be worth the same tomorrow as it is today. For this reason the person with money can afford to wait until the seller agrees to lower his prices. Depreciating currency places both buyer and seller on an equal footing because they both possess something that looses value over time. One does not have a bargaining advantage over the other." (

Sylvio Gesell on `why money should rot'

"Commodities in general, straw, petrol, guano and the rest can be safely exchanged only when everyone is indifferent as to whether he possesses money or goods, and that is possible only if money is afflicted with all the defects inherent in our products. That is obvious. Our goods rot, decay, break, rust, so only if money has equally disagreeable, loss-involving properties can it effect exchange rapidly, securely and cheaply. For such money can never, on any account, be preferred by anyone to goods. Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether, is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron and ether. For such money is not preferred to goods either by the purchaser or the seller. We then part with our goods for money only because we need the money as a means of exchange, not because we expect an advantage from possession of the money." ( )

More Information

See also the reading list at Currency Reform - Books