Responding to Inflation From a Pandemic of Quantitative Sleazing
- Article: A Pandemic of ‘Quantitative Sleazing’ is Behind the Global High Inflation that Threatens Your Money and Livelihood. An Essay on How Central Bank Purchases of Corporate Bonds at a Vast Scale has Changed the Nature of Monetary Systems - and what you can do about it. By Prof. Jem Bendell, 21st March 2022.
Why is the cost of you being you suddenly shooting up? Some mass media blame oil prices for inflation, so they can complain about environmental policies. Other media blame Russian foreign policy for inflation, so they can complain about a bad foreign leader. Whatever their angle, the mass media have been avoiding the real cause, which is a seemingly corrupt agenda from the largest Central Banks of the world to hand out money to the largest corporations in their countries since the start of the pandemic. Although there have been some gentle and intermittent grumbling from the financial press about the handling of this gushing company cash geyser that is the corporate bond buying by Central Banks, a systematic condemnation of this practice by economists, journalists, politicians or even trade unions, has been absent. Therefore, as a sociologist, I am once again stepping outside my lane to offer you a critical perspective on what has been happening for the past 2 years, why it matters, and what you can do about it. I have a long interest in monetary policy, since my TEDx talk 11 years ago when I explained the need for both monetary reform and currency innovation, including Bitcoin, while warning against the day Facebook would launch its own currency. Unfortunately since then, the situation has only got worse; and since the start of the pandemic, a lot worse.
Inflation is a serious problem for people who do not have surplus income or appreciating assets. Which, worldwide, is the majority of us. Therefore, after a few months of people saying it is just a ‘blip,’ it demands an explanation. At the time of writing, the most favourite one is to blame the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The problem with blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the rising prices for all kinds of goods in most countries around the world, is that prices were up worldwide many months before the invasion. The other problem with that argument is that Russian exports of oil and gas are not significant for many countries in the world. The problem with blaming oil prices pre-invasion for inflation is that the price of oil was unusually low in 2020 and, on average, not unusually high in 2021. Let's remember that between the end of 2010 and 2014 the price of oil bumped around 100 US dollar a barrel. Yet world inflation fell throughout that period, from around 4.5 percent in 2011 to 2 percent in 2015. Another favourite explanation is to blame a post-Covid rebound in consumer demand. However, global GDP is back to a level that is nevertheless lower than what was expected if there had been no disruptions over the last two years. Therefore some people are turning to the issue of environmental limits to explain inflation. That is definitely on the horizon, but not the current cause. For instance, the problem with blaming climate change for rising food prices is that, despite localised setbacks, overall the last 12 months have been quite good for grain production globally. Future prospects for industrial production of grains for export markets is worrying because of environmental degradation and geopolitics but that did not affect the previous 12 months of prices. So what is the source of your justified anxiety at rising prices for nearly everything for the past year or so?
The clue to the source of the unusual inflation is that it is happening (over 5%) in a majority of advanced economies and emerging economies, all around the world. As the World Bank's Chief Economist notes "the most salient feature of today’s inflation is its ubiquity" (Reinhart and Graf Von Luckner, 2022). That implies a globally systemic cause. In this essay I will explain how that cause is the set of decisions by a handful of Western governments and Central Banks since March 2020. I will explain how their actions can be regarded as, in pure size, the largest corruption scandal in history. I will also explain how it can be regarded as an attempt of the elites of those countries to compete with each other to acquire as much of the commercial and land assets abroad before a potential collapse of either the financial system nor even the fiat monetary system itself through hyperinflation. In the process they are sacrificing the well being of citizens in their own countries, as we face our lives suddenly becoming unaffordable.
Why Corporate Bonds Matter to You
To understand what has been happening with monetary policy since the start of the pandemic, first one needs to understand the nature of the current monetary system. In nearly all countries of the world, the money supply is created when private banks issue loans. In doing so, they are not lending an existing stock of money from somewhere else, but creating it as an accounting entry in their customer’s bank account in return for the customer signing a loan agreement. Those electronic bank deposits then act as a means of payment – the national acceptable currency - through the agreements between the private banks and the electronic payment systems of various kinds. Notes and coins comprise a very small part of the total money in an economy. That gives the private banks a decisive influence over who gets money to do what, and who doesn’t. Even governments do not create their own money, but are one form of customer to the private banks, who issue the money to then buy the government bonds. It should be noted that this is a choice that governments made not to issue their own digital cash as equivalents to physical cash, rather than issue bonds and get into debt. That system undermined their sovereignty, as it provided the banking sector with a combined influence over government policies, particularly their financial regulations and associated policies, by the fact they can lose interest in buying a governments’ new bonds. A bond is the name for a debt - a contract that investors buy to get paid interest until the debt is paid off in full at a fixed date. Because this form of monetary issuance involves compounding interest payments to the banks, and only the partial return of earnings from that interest (and/or fees) back into the economy as wages and real-world asset purchases, so money becomes insufficient to maintain the economy if there is not a continual increase in lending. That imperative for lending-if-not-fully-spending in order for an economy to avoid recession, means that actual economic activity also needs to grow, for the loans to be issued for something. This is a form of ‘monetary growth imperative’ arising from the nature of the debt-based monetary system in a situation where bank earnings are, understandably, partially saved rather than recirculated. That is why many observers have noted that an economic system that requires infinite growth on a planet of limited resources will inevitably collapse at some point. The growth imperative means that the option for a steady-state economy which does not expand is removed, and if growth stops, then economic contraction is driven by the disappearance of money from the economy (I have described all of this in detail with references to official documents in a previous essay: Arnsberger, et al 2021).
The key change in monetary policy since the start of the pandemic, that is now affecting nearly everyone around the world in the form of inflation, concerns bonds issued by corporations, not governments. The issuing and trading of bonds has always been a large part of how investors finance governments and corporations. Sometimes Central Banks would buy government treasury bonds, but in the last few years something new happened – Central Banks have started buying corporate bonds. The European Central Bank began purchasing bonds from the largest firms in the Eurozone in 2016 (Zaghini 2020). Then at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, they switched on the hyperdrive so that they could buy corporate bonds from the near 2 trillion Euros of emergency money they would create in response to the pandemic (ECB 2022). In lockstep, the Bank of England began purchasing nearly 20 billion Pounds of bonds from 63 of the largest British corporations (Barmes et al. 2020). That means effectively, that the government is making low interest loans to the largest businesses to keep them going, because commercial lenders are not confident that those businesses are viable. That means there is a disproportionate risk that these loans will not be repaid. Despite the big numbers, this can sound like a boring matter of monetary policy. But is it?
I prefer to describe this new monetary mechanism from Central Banks in a simpler way: the largest companies in a country are handed money by an organisation that creates it from nothing, in return for a contract that says the companies will pay it back in future. When this process started there were some complaints from think tanks that questioned whether it was in-keeping with a Central Bank’s climate commitments to hand money over to companies in the fossil fuel industry (Barmes et al. 2020). There was also the concern that this bond buying would favour certain companies over others and the largest companies over smaller ones. However, the process has continued largely unreported and uncontested in either political circles or public dialogue since 2020. Other Central Banks followed the lead of the EU, UK and USA, with Sweden starting corporate bond buying in September 2020 (Sveriges Riksbank, 2022) and others since then.
In the US this new money issuing mechanism went to an even larger scale, where the Central Bank purchases shares in investment funds that are comprised of bonds issued by various corporations. Since the money goes to the corporations with bonds in those Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), a crucial role is played by the financial institutions that pick which corporations’ bonds to include in the ETFs. In most cases the financial institutions packaging the bonds into ETFs own shares in the very companies that they are enabling to receive central bank or government money: these are the largest investment firms in the world (Ahardane 2016). The sums involved are huge, such as US $500 billion in the initial mechanism by the US Federal Reserve launched in March 2020 and managed by BlackRock. That was part of a massive injection of money into the financial system (Marte 2020). Between mid-March and early December of 2020, the US Federal Reserve’s portfolio of securities grew from $3.9 trillion to $6.6 trillion. The Financial Times (FT) reported on “a frenetic pace of issuance” of corporate bonds for the following year after the new central bank policy (Rennison 2021). In 2021 the global corporate bond market stood at over US $40 trillion, aided by the changes in Central Bank policies in 2020, ‘in response’ to the pandemic (Wigglesworth and Fletcher 2021).
At the time, the decision on how to handle the process shocked people in the industry:
“‘It is truly outrageous,’ said one asset management executive, who declined to speak on the record due to BlackRock’s influence on Wall Street. ‘BlackRock will be managing a fund and deciding if they want to use taxpayer money to purchase ETFs they manage. There’s probably another 100-200 managers who could do this, but BlackRock was chosen’” (Henderson and Wigglesworth, 2020).
The immediate effect was for private investors to invest billions of dollars in Blackrock’s other ETFs "as investors raced to front-run the central bank’s expected purchases” which showed “how the Fed has already indirectly shaped markets to BlackRock’s benefit" (Henderson and Wigglesworth, 2020).
The Deeper Damage from Central Bank Buying of Corporate Bonds
The implications of these emergency policy changes are far more problematic than just unfairly benefiting a couple of big investment companies. That is because the huge upsurge of Central Bank purchases of corporate bonds, either directly or by purchasing ETFs comprised of such bonds, represents both a new backing and new mechanism for issuing new money. Prior to this new arrangement of corporate bond buying, the monetary system was already non-sovereign, with private banks in charge of both credit issuance to the real economy and the purchasing of government bonds. However, this new arrangement changes the nature of the monetary system, whereby national fiat currencies become a form of money that is issued in partnership with the largest corporations. The reasons that this is so different include where the new money goes (and where it does not), how that influences the behaviour of the wider financial sector, how that influences the behaviour of the corporations that issue the bonds, and how that may influence the policy decisions of Central Banks in the future.
It is difficult to assess the implications fully, but it suggests the following, which I will explain in the discussion below:
- An untethering of stock markets and the financial sector from the ‘real economy,’ including quasi-magical earnings for the financial sector and the propping up of corporations whose underlying business model may not be successful.
- Unfairly supporting the largest corporations with cheap loans to bridge them over difficult times against their smaller or less-connected competitors, which is a form of anti-competitive influence that promotes market monopolisation.
- Enabling new and riskier corporate acquisitions of other companies, towards building monopolistic entities and/or rapid foreign penetration.
- The generation of conditions for high inflation, through a large injection of money into the corporate sector to maintain their capacity for expenditure despite often declining provision of goods and services.
By backing the corporate bond market so extensively, the Central Banks are potentially creating a new systemic risk to the whole of the financial and monetary system. This is because they create confidence in something relatively opaque:
“Corporate debt, often just referred to as "credit" in the industry, is significantly more complex than equities. While a company will often just have one stock outstanding [i.e its shares], it can have dozens of individual, idiosyncratic bonds. These are affected not just by the firm's own fundamentals but also by the broader ebb and flow of macroeconomic fundamentals. The World Federation of Exchanges estimates that there are globally about 48,000 stocks. CUSIP Global Services, a company that issues identification numbers for financial securities, estimates that there are more than 515,000 corporate bonds in the US alone, each of which is as unique as a snowflake.” (Wigglesworth and Fletcher 2021).
There is scope for financial institutions to use the mix of confidence from Central Bank involvement and opacity to their own benefit, because ETF providers, many of whom are investment banks, can “continue creating new units in a product even if there is not really enough liquidity in the underlying asset class to support it.” (Rennison 2021). That is possible because ETFs are a hybrid, where the price of the ETF in the stock market (not simply the value of the corporate bonds themselves) determines the value of what you are holding as an investor. In normal conditions the over issuing of shares in ETFs “may not matter much, but in times of market stress it could cause huge problems" (Rennison 2021). Those times of market stress are never far away.
One reason for crises can be a period of ‘irrational exuberance’ for an asset, or for the whole market, allowed or helped by interest rate policies, financial propaganda, market regulation, or a lack thereof. It is important, therefore, to witness how the approach to corporate bonds has changed. Prior to 2020, corporate bonds were analysed just like loans, for how the issuing corporation could honour their debt (Schaeffer 2001). The existence of ETFs creates an incentive for financial institutions to accept corporate bonds, to package up and sell. Nevertheless, there was some focus on fundamentals of the indebted business, because a business can go bankrupt and the risk profile of a business would affect the bond price. However, with Central Banks involved, the context changes.
Central Banks have different interests in those bonds than commercial investors. They are buying them not for their potential returns, but for monetary system influence. Therefore, they are not going to analyse the creditworthiness of the corporations issuing the bonds in quite the same way as private investors. They may subcontract that process to private investment professionals, but the context is known by all involved to be different to that of a private investor. Therefore, even if only buying investment grade bonds, there is less interest in individual corporate performance. This effect is accentuated by Central Banks holding corporate bond ETFs, as that means they backstop and ‘pump up’ this whole class of financial instruments. Such a policy “could even attract new classes of investor who take comfort that the Fed is there beside them” (Rennison 2021). Perhaps that is why, despite the average life-span of companies listed in Standard & Poor’s 500 share index being less than 18 years (Garelli 2016), companies like Intel have sold a 40-year bond for a billion USD (Rankine 2020). It is clear then that with Central Bank involvement, private investors can operate in this sector with more confidence and therefore take more risks. Which brings us to a different kind of bond, namely Junk Bonds.
Junk Bonds is the name given to bonds that are issued by companies that are financially struggling and have a high risk of defaulting (or not paying their interest payments or repaying the principal to investors). Therefore they are not something you would want to play a significant role in the monetary system. Yet by mid 2021 the FT reported that “373 junk-rated companies have borrowed through the nearly $11tn US corporate debt market so far this year, including companies hard hit by the pandemic like American Airlines and cruise operator Carnival. Collectively, the risky cohort has raised $277bn, a record pace and up 60 per cent from year ago levels…” That means over a quarter of the corporate bonds in the US are junk (Rennison and Platt 2021). It is an indicator of why the FT reported in 2021 how “some worry that rampant demand is fuelling a decline in lending standards, allowing increasingly risky companies to gain access to easy credit” (Rennison 2021). Somewhat bizarrely, some analysts praise the impact of Central Bank corporate bond buying in having a spill-over effect in also increasing demand for more risky corporate bonds (Zaghini 2020). That represents a transfer of risk onto the Central Bank and in turn, the taxpayer.
An additional risk to the valuation of this asset class comes from how rising inflation makes the fixed-income from fixed-interest rate bonds less valuable in relative terms. Anticipation of inflation is one reason why the interest in purchase of new corporate bonds wobbled in the middle of 2021 (Rennison and Platt 2021). This situation is made worse by interest rates being put up by a Central Bank to curb inflation, as that makes a new use for one’s money more attractive than continuing to hold an old bond with a lower interest rate. Therefore, if Central Banks are interested in maintaining buoyancy in the corporate bond market they will have a new reason to consider not increasing interest rates and thus allowing inflation to spiral higher. That would be a huge change in monetary strategy with massive implications for the savings of ordinary people, as well as people who survive on wages given that under conditions of inflation wages increase far more slowly than prices.
When investors lose interest in new bond sales from corporations that are already struggling, and therefore many corporations default on their existing bonds, could this trigger a financial crisis? In response the Central Banks would likely step in and buy a lot of the junk bonds, therefore bailing out the financial sector again, along with failing businesses. But before it even comes to that, this process is yet the latest stage in an untethering of stock markets and the financial sector from the ‘real economy’; of businesses making a profit by offering things that people want at prices they can afford. It is also therefore the latest stage in the untethering of the financial world from the reality of life itself, upon which the real economy both depends and impacts. The outlandish earnings for the financial sector increase inequality and drive up asset prices for everyone else. Central Banks are also propping up corporations whose underlying business model may not be successful.
Struggling small businesses and their networks and lobby groups who are not able to get into the corporate bond game, have been mostly silent about this policy, surprisingly. The Central Banks are unfairly supporting the largest corporations in the world against their smaller or less-connected competitors. It is a form of anti-competitive influence that promotes market consolidation, because the largest firms remain cash rich during difficult times when their competitors face either shrinking, bankruptcy or becoming liable to takeover. The FT reported that “Unlike 2020, when companies rushed to secure capital to outlast the pandemic downturn, this year has seen more opportunistic fundraising with companies looking to lock in low borrowing costs over a longer time horizon or borrow to fund acquisitions and stock buybacks, rewarding shareholders” (Rennison, 2021). I wonder whether future studies on corporate acquisitions and significant market share increases during this current period will find a correlation with companies that sold corporate bonds. Enabling more, larger and riskier corporate acquisitions of other companies, means encouraging firms to build monopolistic entities, with negative consequences for workers, consumers and taxpayers i.e. all of us. It also funds firms to seek foreign acquisitions, and thus is a way that Central Banks are helping their national corporations move quickly into various sectors in emerging markets. The cumulative effect of these processes could be to leave workers around the world worse off in comparison to the profits being generated by corporations. However, the biggest effect of this new form of monetary issuance is experienced by consumers.
A large injection of money into the corporate sector to maintain their capacity for expenditure on wages and suppliers, despite often declining provision of goods and services, has an effect at a systemic level. It means that cumulatively many people have money in their pockets, and yet there are fewer goods and services to spend that money on. That means prices can increase, especially when fundamentals such as supply of basics like energy, logistics and grains are disrupted for other reasons. Therefore, one of the main reasons that inflation is increasing in most countries around the world appears to be due to this new form of monetary issuance of corporate bond buying at a time of naturally slowing growth in trade due to constraints arising from the natural resource base of economies – otherwise known as environmental limits. The reason these monetary policies of a few Western economies are producing a global inflationary effect is due to the way currencies interact. One way the inflation in the West is exported around the world is that the rising availability of Western currencies to purchase internationally traded commodities makes those commodity prices rise, which affects every country that imports them. Another way inflation is exported is that the exports of the West become more expensive for importing countries (unless there is a devaluation of the Western currencies). Another way this global inflationary effect occurs is through interest rates, as many countries around the world adjust their own interest rates in response to the US, which then affects the issuance of money in their own currencies. Lower interest rates will mean more credit creation and thus more money in an economy. Another factor is that some countries can attempt to devalue their national currencies in line with any devaluation of currencies in the West, so that their exports remain competitive in those key target markets. Whereas each of these mechanisms has extensive research literature on them from monetary economists, debating their significance, it would not be credible to argue that there is no global inflationary effect from the monetary policies in the US and other major western economies.
In this summary I have focused on the UK, US and EU, due to having easier access to information on these financial systems. However, a brief search online revealed to me that other countries also embarked on corporate bond buying programmes during the pandemic. For instance in China the process even involves local governments, as they try to prevent State Owned Enterprises from going bankrupt (Sun 2021). Beyond my capacity, a wider review could help assess how many countries have made their monetary systems vulnerable and distorted their economies through these policies.
Although I focused my introduction of this analysis of the negative impacts of monetary policies during the pandemic on rising inflation, in this essay I have sought to explain the wider economic, social and political damage from those policies. By propping up businesses that might best disappear from the economy, making company valuations separate from their earnings potential, privileging the largest corporations over others so they can outcompete others and monopolise, impoverishing the general public in comparison to the purchasing power of the financial elites through inflation, and creating a systemic risk through the financial sector’s significant investment in opaque and risky corporate debt, the new quantitative easing methods of corporate bond buying from Central Banks during the pandemic may have sown the seeds of the downfall of the fiat money system. In any case, for the very fact it is a process where the largest corporations give money to each other, it is a multi-billion-dollar scam. By sheer volume of dollars, pounds and euros, it is the largest instance of financial corruption in the world, ordained as legal by regulators whose unaccountability is due to how neither the public nor the politicians seem to understand what is going on. Whereas a Bank of England internal watchdog concluded that the bank does not understand its own Quantitative Easing (Giles 2021), there is an even more sinister explanation. It is that we have witnessed a pandemic of ‘Quantitative Sleazing’, where the elites enriched their own kind, while risking the impoverishment of their countrymen and the destruction of their currency. Why else have elites turned a blind eye to these seemingly corrupt Central Bank policies?
Sometimes the wilful blindness of establishment experts is stark, particularly on the causes of high global inflation. The Chief Economist of the World Bank illogically puts the blame for inflation on non-monetary policy causes, such as oil prices, while at the same time calling on Central Banks to tackle inflation as if it had a monetary cause. That is tantamount to calling on the mugger to nurse the wounded (Reinhart and Graf Von Luckner, 2022). But it is not unusual. In an internal report for the European Parliament (2021) on unusually high inflation in the eurozone, neither Quantitative Easing nor corporate bond buying were mentioned once. Instead, a deferential tone to the European Central Bank (ECB) was maintained, including how it is now ‘struggling’ with competing concerns about inflation and employment, as if the ECB is an apolitical group of earnest technicians who react to, rather than shape, economic difficulty.
One might speculate that if the participants in the system know how illegitimate and unsustainable the system is then they are likely to attempt to manage when to crash it. This could be a crash in the monetary system itself, not just in the price of financial assets. It could appear as hyperinflation. In anticipation of that, financiers would invest in assets that are most likely to succeed in such a crash, which would be real-world assets, including houses and farms, and previously relatively risky emerging market businesses. Which is what has been happening in the last few years (Rennison and Platt 2021). If there is hyperinflation ahead, the pandemic monetary policy might be looked back on as a ‘pump and dump’ approach to fiat currency, more akin to the cryptocurrency markets that bank regulators have been so willing to demean as irrational and unethical.
So what should we do about it? On the one hand, the company cash geyser that is corporate bond buying by Central Banks is the latest example of the need for monetary reform. Such reform would involve the governance of the monetary system being brought back under control of democratic processes, so that money issuance is neither in the hands of private banks nor unaccountable Central Banks. To complement that effort, an international treaty would be needed to prevent financial institutions punishing those countries that sought to reform their monetary systems. Given that current monetary systems are driving humanity into self-destruction, through their rapacious requirements for global economic growth, the need for such monetary reform policy is a matter of existential concern (Arnsperger et al 2021). However, monetary reformers have been analysing, complaining and campaigning for decades, and the monetary system has steadfastly become less accountable and more unfair. Worse still, monetary systems are now run and regulated by multi-millionaires and their relatives, with zero interest in changing the financial order. Sadly, there is not a serious challenge to their destructive power because nearly all politicians, journalists and economists accept the current monetary system like they accept death and taxes. Therefore, we have to look to ourselves.
The first thing to do is not to be distracted by the conspiracy theories. This essay explains what has been happening already, without needing to speculate on future plans of unknown elites. Knowing that the public’s concern about monetary systems would increase, and that the system could become unstable, some private bankers have been discreetly encouraging social media influencers to promote conspiracy theories that direct attention away from existing banker excess. You can tell if a conspiracy theory is favoured by the public relations operatives of private banks, by whether the theory makes invisible the terrible power of private banks and offers you no plan of action other than to feel angry and consume something more from the promoter of the conspiracy theory. One of those theories is that Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) will be used to enslave people. The reality is that Central Banks in the West have had the idea and capability to launch CBDCs for the last 6 years, and have not done so because of pressure against it from the private banks that are adamant about retaining their joint monopoly on the issuance of electronic versions of national currencies. That power gives them the possibility to participate in the kind of bond buying scams that I have outlined in this essay. Each new announcement about the potential of CBDCs is in fact another way of pushing back the idea with yet more consultations, and therefore makes both citizens and governments entirely dependent on private bank-issued electronic money. You already depend on electronic transactions that are already tracked by dozens of companies and can be switched off at any time that they choose, or that your government chooses or that a foreign government chooses. If you would not like being given a handout of a new kind of government currency in future, you do not have to take the handout and could instead use existing money in our private bank accounts, or the various cryptographic alternatives. Just because a new currency exists, whether Bitcoin or a CBDC, does not magically remove the ability we have to earn other currencies through the job market or from our own business. The conspiracy theory about CBDCs is attractive to some people because it distracts from how we have already given up our monetary power to institutions we do not control. Be suspicious of anyone promoting theories that distract you from where power resides right now, and the corruption that is happening right now. If you are concerned about privacy and autonomy of monetary transactions, that is sensible, and means we need to look at current arrangements and how to change them.
To conclude, here are some things you can do now to both protect your interests and push back against the capture of monetary systems by elites.
- Write to associations of small and medium sized businesses to ask them what is their position on the anti-competitive policies of Central Bank corporate bond buying? Make your letters and their replies public.
- Write to investigative journalists to ask them to investigate how the individual officials or their families may have benefited financially from the policy decisions they have made. Is their house and lifestyle affordable on their salary? Do they have accounts that show up in the Pandora Papers, and suchlike.
- Write to activist lawyers to ask them to find ways to prosecute the officials making the decisions within the Central Banks and other regulators.
- As there will likely be a collapse or revolution, deprioritise saving money, and use any spare capital you have for changing your lifestyle to become less dependent on consumer goods. For instance, buy a bicycle and use it instead of a car.
- If you can, cut your outgoings to be able to go part time in your work so as to create some time to help grow food and/or find ways of being useful in your community and benefiting from your community in return.
- Study ways to build community resilience through the many amazing ideas and projects featured on portals like P2P Foundation, www.lowimpact.org and www.communityforge.net. Join the Practical Deep Adaptation group on Facebook as well as any other networks promoting local resilience to societal breakdown.
- Join an independent political party and run for Local Government on a mandate of local economic rejuvenation through alternatives to domination by large corporates - or support a candidate who does the same.
- If you have some spare money, buy some system-enabling lower carbon cryptographic currencies like Ethereum, Stellar, Cardano and Holo, as well as some physical precious metals.
- Join the Money Rebellion, and if you have no assets then consider borrowing large sums of money with no intention of repaying it, so that you can spend your time enabling local resilience.
- Encourage monetary reform campaign groups like Positive Money to demand that any CBDCs be designed to enable transactions under a certain amount to be completely private and made offline for a time, and include no restrictions on how the digital cash can be spent.
- Because these ideas are systematically overlooked by mainstream economic journalism, forward this essay to the producers of contrarian analysis on social media, such as Chris Martensen, Dark Horse Podcast, Russell Brand, Rebel Wisdom, Joe Rogan, Empire Files, and Unherd Lockdown TV.
For ideas on responding positively and fairly to the breakdown of industrial consumer societies, subscribe to the Deep Adaptation Quarterly.
Readers are encouraged to re-publish this essay in other publications and websites, without prior permission, citing Prof Bendell as author.
- A corporate bond ETF is made by a financial institution (FI) creating a fund that people can buy into through an exchange, and so the price of a share in that ETF is publicly known and fluctuates. The money in that fund is used by the FI to purchase the corporate bonds, either directly, or via exchanges established for the purpose of buying and selling those bonds. This bond buying could be done either with active analysis by a team of professionals, or passively, according to an algorithm that processes the trades based on its pre-programmed strategy. ETFs are typically managed passively by algorithms, and some estimated in 2021 that the amount of high-grade US corporate bond trading happening that way had doubled in a year to near 40 percent of all trades (Wigglesworth and Fletcher, 2021).
- Digital Cash: Why central banks should issue digital currency (positivemoney.org)
Ahardane, Aicha, 2016. Rise of Institutional Investors Raises Questions of Collusion. Berkeley Law. Rise of Institutional Investors Raises Questions of Collusion. The Network.
Arnsperger, Christian, Bendell, Jem and Slater, Matthew (2021) Monetary adaptation to planetary emergency: addressing the monetary growth imperative, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) Occasional Papers Volume 8. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, UK.
Barmes, David, Danisha Kazi and Simon Youel, 2020. The Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Positive Money. The Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Positive Money.
European Parliament (2021) Rising Inflation: Transitory or Cause for Concern? Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies Directorate-General for Internal Policies, September.
ECB, 2022. Pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP). European Central Bank.
Garelli, Stéphane, 2016. Why you will probably live longer than most big companies. International Institute for Management Development.
Giles, Chris, 2021, January 14. BoE criticised by internal watchdog over easing programme. Financial Times.
Henderson, Richard and Robin Wigglesworth, 2020, March 30. 'It's outrageous': U.S. Fed's big boost for BlackRock raises eyebrows on Wall Street. Financial Times.
Marte, Jonnelle, 2020. Fed opens primary market corporate bond facility. Reuters.
Rankine, Alex, 2020, June 19. Corporate bonds: central banks top up the punch bowl yet again. MoneyWeek.
Reinhart, C. and C. Graf Von Luckner (2022) The Return of Global Inflation (worldbank.org), FEBRUARY 14, 2022
Rennison, J., 2021, Sep 03.Bankers and investors braced for US corporate debt binge: Fixed income. Supply surge Groups rush to lock in low borrowing rates after summer lull amid fears of inflation jump [Usa Region]. Financial Times, 10. ISSN 03071766.
Rennison, J. and Platt, E., 2021. Corporate bond spreads slide to lowest since 2007 after rush to riskier debt. Financial Times; London (UK) 18 June 2021
Schaefer, S., 2001, May 21. Corporate bonds and other debt instruments Last week, Stephen Schaefer explained how bonds are selected and managed. Here he examines the subject of corporate bonds: [Surveys edition]. Financial Times, 10. ISSN 03071766.
Sveriges Riksbank, 2022. Purchases of corporate bonds. Sveriges Riksbank.
Sun, Yu. 2021, July 22. Chinese provinces rush to rescue debt-laden SOEs: Industrials. Corporate bonds Authorities commit $17bn to bailouts after defaults hit local economies and rattle investors. Financial Times; London (UK)
Wigglesworth, R. and Fletcher, L., 2021, Dec 08. The next quant revolution: FT BIG READ. INVESTMENT Corporate bonds have been largely untouched by the computer-driven trading that has reshaped global equity markets. Now some investors see similar opportunities in the $40tn credit market. Financial Times, 23. ISSN 03071766.
Zaghini, Andrea, 2020, January 28. How ECB purchases of corporate bonds helped reduce firms’ borrowing costs. Research Bulletin No.66. European Central Bank.