giovedì 14 luglio 2011

Usura, le minacce a Marco Baldini

Cronaca Italia
Usura, le minacce a Marco Baldini: “Je famo scontà tutto, lo ammazzo”

ROMA – Nelle intercettazioni piange miseria, una volta arriva persino a dire che i soldi (quelli secondo l’accusa prestati “a strozzo”), gli servono per pagarsi le medicine. Per gli investigatori che mercoledì 13 luglio hanno arrestato 11 persone per usura, però, Giuseppe De Tomasi, detto “Sergione”, un passato nella banda della Magliana, era il capo.

Nella rete erano finiti diversi personaggi della politica e dello spettacolo, a cominciare dallo speaker radiofonico Marco Baldini, la spalla di Fiorello. Tutto, scrivono sul Messaggero Valentina Errante e Cristiana Mangani, comincia con un prestito da 12 mila euro, chiesto dallo speaker per la sua passione per il gioco d’azzardo. Il contatto, sempre secondo l’accusa è Davide Caforio, morto da qualche anno, e allora titolare di un negozio di ottica. Nel 2009, grazie a Caforio, arriva il prestito. Solo che, qualche mese dopo, Baldini prova a pagare con un assegno che risulta scoperto.

E’ l’inizio delle minacce. Segione chiede a Caforio di recuperare i soldi ma “senza aggressività”. L’ottico, però, non è affatto sereno e sbotta: “Quando capita je famo scontà tutto. E’ proprio uno stronzo”. Qualche giorno dopo Baldini è introvabile e Caforio perde le staffe: “Devo sapere dove sta adesso, dopodomani è diciassette, tanto annamo in Radio, a piazza Cavour”. Sergione non infierisce ma Caforio è un fiume in piena: “O ammazzo, o ammazzo”.

14 luglio 2011 | 12:09

martedì 12 luglio 2011

Antiriciclaggio appoggia usura bancaria

CRITICITA' BANCARIE. SCILIPOTI (MRN) : MOTIVAZIONI INSENSATE ESPRESSE DALL'ANTIRICICLAGGIO

Roma, 12/07/2011. "Ho concordato con il Governo la riduzione dei tassi
soglia antiusura, per mitigare l'incremento "estorto" dall'ABI nel decreto
sviluppo". L'emendamento predisposto ad hoc si scontra con il veto del
Direttore del Servizio Antiriciclaggio, che ha espresso parere di fondo
negativo, adducendo le medesime motivazioni espresse dall'ABI per ottenere
l'aumento dei tassi soglia: ne deriverebbe la chiusura dei rubinetti del credito da parte delle banche, spingendo le imprese e le famiglie verso l'usura
criminale!" Così l'On. Scilipoti, segretario politico del Movimento di
Responsabilità Nazionale e Presidente del Forum Nazionale Antiusura
Bancaria, a difesa delle famiglie, delle imprese e dei tassi bancari
contenuti. "Insomma, lo strapotere bancario vuole essere "legittimato" a
fare usura strozzando legalmente l'Economia. La mia missione - conclude il
deputato MRN - è salvare le famiglie ed i cittadini dallo strapotere
bancario che non esclude nessun colpo, nemmeno quello dell'uso del Servizio Antiriciclaggio del Ministero dell'Economia e Finanze, per estorcere norme a proprio vantaggio".

DESTABILIZZAZIONE GUIDATA DEL MERCATO DEI VALORI

CRITICITA’ BANCARIE. SCILIPOTI (MRN) : IPOTESI DI DESTABILIZZAZIONE GUIDATA DEL MERCATO DEI VALORI MOBILIARI

Roma, 12/07/2011. “Gli speculatori che calcolano di fare affari a danno della Borsa italiana e del debito pubblico potrebbero essere individuati nell'ambito del sistema bancario nazionale, che mal digerisce le battaglie che il Movimento di Responsabilità Nazionale sta attivando, non solo in sede parlamentare, contro le numerose "norme salvabanche"; tra queste vanno segnalate la previsione della prescrizione decennale dalla data dell’annotazione dell’importo dovuto, inserita nel decreto Milleproroghe e l'ingiustificato aumento dei tassi soglia antiusura”. Così l’On. Scilipoti, segretario politico del Movimento di Responsabilità Nazionale e Presidente del Forum Nazionale Antiusura Bancaria, a difesa di tassi bancari contenuti e dei problemi legati all’usura, denuncia il gioco al ribasso attuato recentemente in Borsa, che consiste nel fare abbassare i prezzi dei titoli di Stato e creare panico tra gli investitori interni e internazionali, tentando probabilmente di destabilizzare l’economia e il Governo. “Con il Forum Antiusura Bancaria - annuncia l’On. Scilipoti – stiamo valutando la possibilità di preparare un esposto alle autorità giudiziarie e garanti, per far accertare se uno o più componenti del sistema bancario italiano abbiano adottato o stiano adottando iniziative volte a turbare il mercato dei valori mobiliari, al fine di destabilizzare l'equilibrio socio-politico della Nazione. Il deputato MRN ricorda che attualmente la guida del sistema bancario italiano è in mano al presidente del Monte dei Paschi di Siena, con posizione politica ben chiara e quasi sicuramente non favorevole all’attuale Governo. “lo Stato italiano deve riappropriarsi della sovranità monetaria – conclude l’On. Scilipoti – gestita attualmente, attraverso la detenzione delle quote della Banca d’Italia, dai principali Istituti Bancari che, da controllati, fanno i controllori”.

lunedì 11 luglio 2011

ShadowStats' Williams sees hyperinflation, dollar collapse

At King World News, ShadowStats' Williams sees hyperinflation, dollar collapse

Section:

11:40a ET Monday, July 11, 2011

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold (and Silver):

John Williams of the ShadowStats letter today tells King World News that still more money creation and debt are on the way and likely will lead to hyperinflation and a dollar collapse. An excerpt from the interview can be found here:

http://kingworldnews.com/kingworldnews/KWN_DailyWeb/Entries/2011/7/11_Jo...

Meanwhile, full audio of silver market rigging whistleblower Andrew Maguire's recent interview with King World News has been posted here:

http://www.kingworldnews.com/kingworldnews/Broadcast/Entries/2011/7/11_A...

Maguire will speak at GATA's Gold Rush 2011 conference in London in August:

http://www.GATAgoldrush.com

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

German 'nein' leaves Italy and Spain in turmoil

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: German 'nein' leaves Italy and Spain in turmoil

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Telegraph, London
Monday, July 11, 2011

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/8631219/German-Nein-leaves-Italy-and-...

Italian and Spanish bond yields soared to post-EMU highs in a fresh day of credit turmoil after Germany blocked any meaningful measures to defuse the crisis.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called for more "frugality" in Italy, sticking to her script that Rome can solve its woes with an austerity budget. Her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said any boost to the EU's E500 billion (L440 billion) bailout machinery was "out of the question."

Mr Schauble denied reports that Berlin was ready to empower the fund to purchase Spanish and Italian bonds pre-emptively on the open market, a move seen by experts as vital to halt dangerous contagion to the larger economies.

The market's verdict on EU foot-dragging was instant and brutal. Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds smashed through the 6pc barrier for the first time since 1997, made worse by warnings from the Castilla-La Mancha region that its deficit had become "extremely serious."

Italian yields jumped 44 points to 5.7 percent, a level that starts to threaten the sustainability of the country's finances. Markit's iTraxx SovX Western Europe, Europe's sovereign stress gauge, saw the biggest one-day rise ever. "Contagion was the word on everybody's lips," said Gavan Nolan, Markit's credit chief.

EU leaders seem unable to keep pace with the fast-moving events. Eurogroup finance ministers focused yesterday on details of "burden sharing" for banks that lent to Greece, no longer the most urgent matter. A summit of top EU officials ended with no hint of how the crisis could be contained.

"We've painted ourselves into a corner. At this point, either someone -- Germany, the European Central Bank -- has to fundamentally shift position or everything blows up," an EU official told Reuters.

Berlin has resisted any move to buy or guarantee the bonds of distressed debtors, viewing it as a slippery slope towards a fiscal union and a breach of Germany's Basic Law. The ECB in turn has refused to buy Spanish and Italian bonds, saying it is the task of EU governments.

The euro tumbled over two cents to under $1.40 against the US dollar. Gold rose to $1,556 an ounce on safe-haven flows. Italy's stock market led the rout of global bourses, dropping 4 percent despite moves by the regulator Consob to curtail short-selling. Italian bank shares were pummelled again. Unicredit fell 6 percent, and Intesa SanPaulo fell 7 percent. London's FTSE 100 fell 1 percent, while the Dow was off 1.3 percent in early trading.

Escalating woes in Italy and Spain raise the stakes dramatically. The pair have E6.3 trillion of total debts between them. Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB president, said Europe is now at "the epicentre of a global problem."

Yet EU attention remains focused on curbing the rating agencies, a campaign that is turning shrill. Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, said the authorities must "smash the cartel of the three US rating agencies." Fitch is, in fact, French-owned.

Barclays Capital said EU leaders must recognise that Greece is insolvent and prepare for an orderly debt restructuring, perhaps one that shares the pain between private creditors and the EU taxpayer and gives Greece a way out of its trap by easing the debt burden by 60 percent.

Such a move requires back-stop defences to prevent contagion, perhaps by using the EFSF bailout fund to shore up Club Med bond markets. The solution is elegant; what lacks is political will.

Gary Jenkins at Evolution Securities said the EU cannot keep stalling. Italy's borrowing costs are ratcheting toward the fatal line of 7 percent. "It is worth remembering how quickly bond yields can get out of control by looking at what happened to Greek, Irish and Portuguese 10-year yields. What would keep me awake at night if I was a European finance minister is that we are only about 2 percent from potential disaster," he said.

Competing currencies guard against profligate government

Ron Paul: Competing currencies guard against profligate government
By U.S. Rep. Ron Paul
Monday, July 11, 2011

http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1891:competing-currencies-a-defense-against-profligate-government-spending&catid=62:texas-straight-talk&Itemid=69

The end of June marked what is hopefully the end of the Federal Reserve's policy of quantitative easing. For months the Fed has purchased hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasury debt, enabling the government to fund its profligate deficit spending, push the national debt to its limit, and further devalue the dollar. Confidence in the dollar is plummeting, confidence in the euro has been shattered by the European bond crisis, and beleaguered consumers and investors are slowly but surely awakening to the fact that government-issued currencies do not hold their value.

Currency is sound only when it is recognized and accepted as such by individuals, through the actions of the market, without coercion. Throughout history, gold and silver have been the two commodities that have most satisfied the requirements of sound money. This is why people around the world are flocking once again to gold and silver as a store of value to replace their rapidly depreciating paper currencies. Even central banks have come to their senses and have begun to stock up on gold once again.

But in our country today, attempting to use gold and silver as money is severely punished, regardless of the fact that it is the only constitutionally-allowed legal tender. n one recent instance, entrepreneurs who attempted to create their own gold and silver currency were convicted by the federal government of "counterfeiting." Also, consider another case of an individual who was convicted of tax evasion for paying his employees with silver and gold coins rather than fiat paper dollars. The federal government acknowledges that such coins are legal tender at their face value, as they were issued by the U.S. government. But when it comes to income taxes owed by the employees who received them, the IRS suddenly deems the coins to be worth their full market value as precious metals.

These cases highlight the fact that a government monopoly on the issuance of money is purely a method of central control over the economy. If you can be forced to accept the government's increasingly devalued dollar, there is no limit to how far the government will go to debauch the currency. Anyone who attempts to create a market-based currency -- meaning a currency with real value as determined by markets -- threatens to embarrass the federal government and expose the folly of our fiat monetary system. So the government destroys competition through its usual tools of arrest, confiscation, and incarceration.

This is why I have taken steps to restore the constitutional monetary system envisioned and practiced by our Founding Fathers. I recently introduced HR 1098, the Free Competition in Currency Act. This bill eliminates three of the major obstacles to the circulation of sound money: federal legal tender laws that force acceptance of Federal Reserve Notes; "counterfeiting" laws that serve no purpose other than to ban the creation of private commodity currencies; and tax laws that penalize the use of gold and silver coins as money. During this Congress I hope to hold hearings on this bill in order to highlight the importance of returning to a sound monetary system.

Allowing market participants to choose a sound currency will ensure that individuals' needs are met, rather than the needs of the government. Restoring sound money will restrict the ability of the government to reduce the citizenry's purchasing power and burden future generations with debt. Unlike the current system which benefits the Fed and its banking cartel, all Americans are better off with a sound currency.

I 68 miliardi prendiamoli qui

I 68 miliardi prendiamoli qui
di Marco Della Luna - 11/07/2011

Fonte: Marco della Luna blog


Disciplinare e tassare la prostituzione, con tutti gli opportuni presidi sanitari, che adesso mancano. Disciplinare e statalizzare la vendita delle droghe, con tutti gli opportuni presidi sanitari, che adesso mancano. Tassare le attività imprenditoriali delle chiese, i loro immobili adibiti ad uso imprenditoriale, la loro manomorta sugli immobili non di culto. Tali misure frutterebbero i 68 miliardi per la legge di bilancio, perché genererebbero ogni anno entrate di diverse decine di miliardi, strutturali, cioè permamentemente, non una tantum.

E risparmi di spese carcerarie, sanitarie, giudiziarie, e di danni criminali. E toglierebbero profitti e potere al crimine organizzato nazionale e internazionale. E migliorerebbero l’ordine pubblico. E limiterebbero contagi e altri danni alla salute di decine di migliaia di cittadini.

Se la Chiesa Cattolica si opporrà, le si ricorderà che è nel suo interesse pagare le tasse, per rifarsi l’immagine compromessa da troppa pedofilia, e da troppo nascondimento della pedofilia (vedi gli archivi segreti che il card. Ratzinger fece istituire dai vescovi per tenervi le denunce di abusi sessuali), e troppi abusi bancari coperti sotto il neo-beato (vedasi Calvi, Marcinkus, Banco Ambrosiano e Ior). E le si ricorderà che l’alternativa sarebbe tagliare la spesa sociale e per l’occupazione: è per caso ciò che vogliono o preferiscono in Vaticano? Lo dicano. Agli oppositori laici si ricorderà che lo stato già vende i tabacchi e tassa le vendite di alcolici, che tra tutti e due fanno circa 190.000 morti l’anno (Fini, ad es., fuma in pubblico), e un numero molto maggiore di invalidi, mentre ora di droghe muoiono circa 3.000 l’anno, perlopiù uccisi dalle sostanze di taglio, e che ne morirebbero molti meno se le droghe fossero prodotte e vendute dallo stato, senza veleni e con controllo medico.

Come farebbe qualsiasi altra maggioranza, l’attuale maggioranza governativa si va a spaccare sullo scoglio dei vincoli di bilancio e risanamento da una parte, e le esigenze di investimenti e di alleggerimento fiscale. Perché se si taglia la spesa pubblica (welfare e investimenti), si hanno sia danni e conflitti sociali, sia calo del pil, e questo calo restringe le risorse (il reddito) per pagare gli interessi sul debito pubblico, e ancor più toglie quelle per ridurlo. Il paese diviene ingovernabile.

Per fare uscire l’economia dalla fase bassa e pessimista, occorrono forti e continui investimenti pubblici infrastrutturali, che creino prospettive e sicurezze di medio-lungo termine per gli investitori privati. Senza di queste, i privati non ritornano a investire, ma stanno alla finestra. Tanto più se intanto monta la tensione sociale per effetto dei tagli. E il ciclo espansivo non riparte di certo. E allora dove trovare le risorse per gli investimenti infrastrutturali? Giusto colpire fiscalmente le speculazioni finanziarie – solo che queste si spostano facilmente all’estero. Giusto colpire i grandi patrimoni – solo che anche questi sono o vanno all’estero. Giusto colpire i colpevoli delle maxi-frodi finanziarie, dei derivati-truffa, delle obbligazioni-fregatura etc.: ma bisognerebbe nazionalizzare grosse quote di banche (inclusa Bankitalia) e commissariare qualche fondazione bancaria di peso, prima che si auto-danneggi troppo con manovre incredibili e si faccia dirigere, che so, da una Goldman-Sachs. Questo però è troppo per qualsiasi maggioranza. E allora? Colpibili realmente e strutturalmente sono solo i medi e medio-piccoli patrimoni e redditi incapaci di riparare all’estero. Purtroppo però si tratta delle persone più attive nell’economia reale, che verrebbe ancor più affossata; o di pensionati con patrimonio ma oramai inattivi – che secondo il governo dovrebbero vedere le loro pensioni indicizzate al pil; o di piccoli risparmiatori che Tremonti sta aggredendo con la sua trovata di aumentare la tassa sui depositi di titoli.

Certo, ancora meglio sarebbe fare una riforma monetaria, per eliminare la moneta-debito, cioè sostituire l’attuale insieme di money supply generato tutto mediante operazioni di indebitamento, con mezzi monetari generati senza indebitamento, come si fa con le monete metalliche, e come sporadicamente si è fatto anche con le banconote in periodi recenti e remoti. Ma una simile riforma non è fattibile perché incompatibile con gli attuali assetti di potere effettivo e coi loro interessi. Bisogna quindi pensare a riforme compatibili con questi.

In conclusione, non resta che far emergere (regolamentandole nel miglior interesse collettivo) le attività economiche oggi ancora illogicamente sommerse, come la prostituzione e il commercio di droghe (oppure una logica c’è: cointeressenza tra istituzioni e traffici ufficialmente illeciti). (La legalizzazione comprenderà controlli periodici con spese a carico dei tossicodipendenti e obbligo di comunicazione dello stato di dipendenza ai rispettivi datori di lavoro). E tassare i redditi e gli immobili imprenditoriali anche degli enti ecclesiastici, mentre oggi, in violazione della Costituzione e del principio di eguaglianza e leale concorrenza, sono esentati al fine di avere il sostegno politico del Vaticano. E colpire fiscalmente la manomorta immobiliare, ossia quel processo per cui gli enti definiti religiosi continuano ad accumulare, per lasciti ereditari, donazioni, compravendite, immobili su immobili, fino a costituire patrimoni esentasse smisurati, conferenti alla Chiesa un corrispondente peso economico e politico, che soggetti realmente religiosi non dovrebbero avere né aspirare ad avere, come diceva anche l’abate-filosofo Rosmini.
Sul fronte dei risparmi, occorre invece fare i conti, innanzitutto, con la previdenza e l’assistenza.

La previdenza non regge finanziariamente perché la popolazione invecchia, quindi si allunga il periodo in cui si percepisce la pensione mentre ci sono meno giovani occupati per pagare la pensione ai pensionati, i quali per giunta vivono più a lungo. Inoltre i giovani di oggi hanno sovente impieghi remunerati poco e irregolarmente, quindi versano meno di contributi. Si aggiunge il problema dell’onere aggiuntivo delle pensioni di reversibilità per mogli extracomunitarie sposate da italiani maturi o anziani al fine di procurare loro il diritto alla reversibilità. Questo insieme di problemi richiede misure decise: gradualmente, la soppressione della reversibilità per il coniuge superstite, che deve avere un reddito proprio; subito, l’innalzamento dell’età pensionabile, un tetto quantitativo alla reversibilità quale che fosse il reddito del coniuge defunto; un tetto alla cumulabilità con altri redditi; esclusione (con meccanismi da elaborare) della reversibilità di comodo per la moglie straniera.

Se per l’assistenza, la spesa sanitaria, le risorse sono insufficienti, bisogna che si cessi di erogare risorse in favore dei non-cittadini. Se le risorse scarseggiano per i cittadini, è illogico e illegittimo destinarle a beneficio di non-cittadini, soprattutto se non legittimamente residenti. Oggi stiamo pagando noi sanità e welfare di centinaia di migliaia di stranieri, con tasse e contributi più elevati, con servizi peggiori, con tagli ad investimenti e ricerca, con crescente indebitamento nazionale. L’Italia è in gravissime difficoltà: non può permettersi di regalare costose cure agli stranieri che non versano. Occorre innanzitutto quantificare il costo che attualmente il paese sta sostenendo per l’assistenza sanitaria e non sanitaria in favore degli stranieri che non pagano contributi e tasse, e porre fine a questa uscita di denaro. Come? Lo straniero che non paga tasse e contribuiti e non si sottopone a controlli anti-infettivi non può avere assistenza sanitaria a spese dei contribuenti italiani. Punto. Se non si dota di adeguata assicurazione privata, viene espulso: quanto così risparmiato viene destinato a sanare il deficit della sanità. Secondo punto. Noti settori industriali e agricoli traggono vantaggio dai lavoratori immigrati pagandoli poco o in nero, e scaricando i costi sociosanitari sulla collettività (esternalizzazione del costo); ma ciò è contrario agli interessi del paese: se gli stranieri costituiscono un costo netto, questo costo va finanziato mediante un’imposta collegata al loro soggiorno in Italia. Terzo punto.

Ma lo scenario di fondo è un altro, è più ampio. E’ che siamo non in una crisi di ciclo, bensì di sistema. Di un sistema che sta per esplodere. Questo governo che sceglie di far quadrare il bilancio con una manovra di 68 miliardi scaricati però quasi interamente sul 2013 e sul 2014, e un’opposizione che sostanzialmente la accetta, e una UE e BCE che non insorgono, nonostante lo scarico differito sia palesemente una furbata irrealistica, perché nessun governo riuscirebbe a reggere un paese sottoposto a quei tagli – tutti questi fattori significano una cosa molto chiara: governo, opposizione, sindacati, UE, BCE, prevedono che di qui al 2013 la situazione cambierà tanto radicalmente, che quegli irrealistici impegni saranno semplicemente superati, che non si dovrà rispettarli. che quindi non serve nemmeno trovare idonee fonti per pagare il debito pubblico – cosa che si sa impossibile, e non solo per l’Italia. Per ora, per l’anno corrente e il prossimo, si tratta soltanto di far quadrare formalmente i bilanci, per mantenere una certa calma e governabilità, in attesa dello sconquasso che porrà fine a tutte le finzioni.

Utah farmers markets to accept food stamps

11 Utah farmers markets to accept food stamps under Utahns Against Hunger initiative

Published: Saturday, July 9, 2011 11:37 p.m. MDT
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SALT LAKE CITY — Katrina Sturgeon was shopping for apples Saturday at her local farmers market — a seemingly mundane errand that has made life much easier for the mother of three ever since the market began accepting food stamps.

"We're staying at the Road Home right now, and the grocery stores are so far away," she said. "So we come here to buy our fruits and vegetables."

The Downtown Farmers Market, where Sturgeon shops weekly, is one of 11 farmers markets in the state that accept food stamps using wireless, point-of-sale credit card machines programmed to accept Horizon cards, the electronic cards onto which food stamp benefits are loaded. The cards are swiped for a specific dollar amount, and participants are given wooden tokens they can spend at qualifying booths.

Last fall, Utahns Against Hunger applied for a community grant from Goldman Sachs on behalf of area farmers markets to enable them to accept food stamps.

Four markets were already on board, and the grant enabled six additional markets to get the necessary technology.

"It's good for the economy and helping low-income people make ends meet," said Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger. "Beside the nutritional health, there's a community health aspect that is being enhanced in being able to go down there and part of the community and part of the 'scene.' It really creates a sense of belonging and a sense of wellbeing."

Utahns Against Hunger, which operates the food stamp booth at the Downtown Farmers Market, expects to handle $20,000 in transactions this summer, up from about $17,000 last year.

Participant Barry Anderson said he believes in local, community-supported agriculture, and he loves being able to shop at the market where he thinks the food is fresher than in grocery stores. A newspaper printing press operator for 18 years, Anderson is out of work, and his wife is interning to become a preschool teacher, but she's still a year away from full-time employment.

"Without this food stamp program, I don't know where we'd be," he said.

He also says the market tends to be less expensive than standard grocery stores, something Cornia said is supported by evidence.

"There's some argument that people think 'Oh, you know, stuff at the farmers market is so much more expensive.' There's actually been some study done. They're priced about the same, and so going down and buying vegetables that maybe were just picked that morning, the nutritional value is higher."

Many markets around the state sell everything from produce to soaps, lotions, incense and jewelry, but Cornia said those items are off limits to food stamp participants.

"There are some restrictions on what you can buy," Cornia explained. "You cannot buy prepared hot food. You cannot buy nonfood items and you can't buy crafts and things like that."

While food stamp recipients could use their tokens at specialty food tents, one high-end cheese vendor said he rarely receives tokens as payment, since recipients generally stick to the basic fruit and vegetable offerings.

Darci Bangerter with Bangerter Farms said she welcomes the tokens, even though it requires an extra step to get payment, since vendors are tasked with cashing out the tokens they receive. She said she sees people from all walks of life pay with them, especially in this economic climate.

Cornia said the backing of vendors is important.

"There's a vendor education piece. We spend some time talking to vendors, and they sign an agreement that they will take tokens and that they cannot give back change so they have to deal in whole dollar amounts.'"

In addition to Utahns Against Hunger spreading the word on its website, www.uah.org, the state Department of Workforce Services, which oversees food stamp benefits, has created banners for each of the participating markets. It also has distributed fliers to community partners such as churches, emergency food pantries and libraries to encourage participation at farmers markets.

Some participants save up their tokens to buy items in bulk at the end of the summer, Cornia said. One participant saved up $300 in tokens and spent it on organic beef, which they froze and ate over the winter. Others buy in bulk and can or make jam from the produce they purchase at the markets.

"They're doing all kinds of things they could not afford to do before because the markets didn't accept food stamps," Cornia said.

While Utah has historically had low participation in the federal food stamp program, since 2007, the state has experienced a 112 percent increase in the number of households using food stamps. "That not only puts food on the table, it creates economic activity. Just in May, $33 million was spent in food stamps in Utah alone."

A complete list of participating markets, along with hours of operation, is available at www.uah.org

The Rehabilitation of Seigniorage

Submission for Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference


The Rehabilitation of Seigniorage


Seigniorage is the profit that accrues to the issuing authority when money is created.

To explain and illustrate full seigniorage, let me present a scenario, "the case of the perfect counterfeiter." Imagine a counterfeiter of such sublime skill that he will never be caught and his bills will never be distinguishable from official banknotes. Like the feudal lords who, legend holds, had the right of initial deflowering of their serfs' brides, our perfect counterfeiter has the privilege of the first spending of the monetary creation; in other words, first-crack privilege; in other words full seigniorage. After that, his creation gets spent and re-spent – money is not a chaste wife – as it blends indistinguishably with the rest of the money supply.

Of course, our counterfeiter would be enriching himself unfairly and illegally, and would be deserving of moral condemnation and imprisonment. Yet, if the government and financial institutions were reluctant to print new money, our crook might be performing valuable service to the economy: injecting fresh blood in the circulatory system. However, if there were a large number of perfect counterfeiters, the system would be flooded by this monetary blood. Since their activities would create money, but not goods or services on which to spend that money, the extra liquidity could only be counterbalanced by raising the price of goods and services. That is, by creating inflation. Now, a little inflation is okay. Pensioners can afford to lose a few dollars (almost by definition) but runaway inflation is bad for everybody. Who wants to wake up to the realization that he lost half his wealth overnight?

It is this possibly of hyperinflation that has given seigniorage a bad name. In the 30's, the Weimar Republic of Germany, in an effort to fulfil the unreasonable war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, started printing money hand over fist. It got so bad that employers would lengthen lunch hour so that workers could go spend their money before it lost even more of its purchasing power. There were stories of people going to the bank with wheelbarrows to hold their money.

More recently we have witnessed runaway inflation in Argentina, caused, again, by the government's vain attempt to deal with massive debilitating debt. In this case the debt was not due to war reparations but rather to the good-boy assent by Argentina to "sound" economic rules enforced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, including the supposedly "wise" decision to peg its money rigidly to the American dollar.

But not all uses of seigniorage lead to economic collapse. During World War II, the Bank of Canada created approximately 50% of new money (for which there was a crying need, considering that the country was going to war and just emerging from a long recession). This money was spent on the war effort by the government and therefore represented full seigniorage on that 50% of new money. Again, after the "first-crack" spending by the government, the money wended its way through the aggregate of economic transactions. (Note that most of that money was not expressed in currency, but rather in checks, letters of credit, book entries and other forms of scriptural money). The Canadian economy did not collapse and no corporation was forced into bankruptcy.

The Untied States is in a unique position to profit from seigniorage. When, in 1975, President Nixon ended the monetary system known as gold exchange standard by ending the convertibility into gold of the American dollar, the later practically replaced gold as the international standard of exchange. Under the previous system, the US dollar had become the principal reserve currency, but the US had pledged to exchange any non-citizen' dollars into gold at a fixed price ($35/ounce). But with the annulment of this pledge, the US mint became a virtual gold mine (except that the dollar was itself subject to fluctuations).

There are many ways for the US to profit from its privileged position.

For example:

Suppose that Canada and the United States independently decided to monetize their national debt by creating enough currency and scriptural money to pay off their creditors. Canada could only do this with the part of the debt that is denominated in Canadian dollars, the part that is denominated in foreign money (mostly US) could not be monetized because the creditors would not accept Canadian money as payment. The United States government, however, could monetize its whole indebtedness because its money is universally accepted. The American government would get the benefit of full seigniorage on whatever currency or scriptural money it would create for that purpose.

Every country needs to accumulate and save American dollars in order to participate in the global economy. How can it acquire them? – By exchanging goods for them, that's how. America can sustain extremely high trade deficits, year after year, because it gets the goods it imports for free – or almost.
[As a left-winger, I neither like nor endorse this system, but I expound on it only to show that seigniorage can work to a country's benefit. Note, though, that this particular scheme is not foolproof. It is only its general acceptance worldwide that allows it to work. Should many countries and institutions start preferring, say, the Euro to the dollar, the United States could lose most of its seigniorage.]

Why is it that in two of the above examples the recourse to seigniorage was unsuccessful, and in the other two cases it worked? – The failures were destined to be so because money was created to take care of a money problem. The successes were so because money was created to manufacture or purchase goods and services – especially goods. Therefore, the money fabricated was absorbed by real transactions and excessive inflation was avoided.

It is crucial to remember that all economic systems are the children of barter. Barter is our Old Testament and when we forget that we stray into bad economic religion. Seigniorage will not lead to hyperinflation if we establish the principle and maintain the practice of two-way convertibility: money converting into goods and goods converting into money, which is as close as we can get to the spirit of barter without losing the many advantages of modern economics and technology.

When a salesman sells a good – say, an automobile – he converts a good into money, but when a government fabricates money for a creative purpose – say to produce added-value goods from wood – it is doing the opposite: it is converting money into goods (assuming of course that there is both a need and a demand for the products). As long as the principle of two-way convertibility is followed, there is little chance that seigniorage will lead to runaway inflation.

But if a government manufactures great quantities of money in an attempt to deal with money problems – huge debts, massive deficits, debilitating interest payments, etc. – then hyperinflation is sure to follow, because the principle of two-way convertibility has not been respected. If Argentina had used seigniorage in a creative way all along, instead of incurring unpayable debts (and trying to pay them – another mistake) and of following the strong-armed "suggestions" of the World bank and the IMF, they would not have been practically forced to use seigniorage in a panicky attempt to wiggle out of its straits. Good seigniorage would have prevented bad seigniorage; respecting two-way convertibility would have prevented hyperinflation.

We must not think of seigniorage as a sure-fire miracle cure, even when it is practiced by well-meaning and intelligent people. There are necessary preconditions:

  • There must exist a minimum of natural resources.
  • There must be a minimum of human resources (with an ethos favorable to work and discipline, and some level of literacy in some part of the population).
  • There must be a minimal level of infrastructure, including governance and management, transportation, and an embryonic educational system capable of preparing citizens for the coming changes.
Obviously, Canada has long fulfilled all of these requirements. And so has Argentina! But you also need a program that targets the fabricated money towards production and the marketplace; and that Argentina did not have. Obviously, also, countries that have an abundance of one available resource, but little else -- such as oil-rich middle-east countries – must follow a different path, a simple self-reliance as not an option.

There is one caveat that conservative economists would certainly point out: Wouldn't it be necessary to also invent money to finance the purchase of these goods and wouldn't this double generation of money lead to inflation? In other words, if money has to be created to finance the production of goods, and if more money has to be fabricated to finance the purchase of these goods, wouldn't the economic system drown in too much money?

Jean-Baptiste Say, in the early 19th century, and Henry Ford, a hundred years later, provided a partial refutation of this argument: workers must be paid a fair wage (at least in liberal societies) and this money will necessarily be spent to satisfy their needs. Workers are also consumers. Ford insisted on building cars that his workers could afford. Therefore, the same dollars that are created for production will partially finance the purchase of this production.

There is more to the refutation of the argument, but first we must digress and touch on the topic of services. Goods and services are very often mentioned in the same breath, but more often than not,
I have referred to goods without mentioning its twin, services. They are twins, but not identical twins. Besides the obvious distinction, on that one deals with physical things and the other with activities performed by humans, animals, and machines, there is another important difference: the supply of goods is limited by the availability of natural resources whereas the supply of services is potentially infinite. One can always invent a new service and try to sell it. The supply of putative services is bound only by the capacity for creativity and by the natural limitations of humans, animals and machines.

This elasticity is good but dangerous because, with seigniorage, the potential supply of money is also practically infinite. In the absence of caution and discipline, these two potential infinities can easily lead to runaway inflation.

There is another danger: some services have the potential of a real payoff, but only after a long period of incubation. Education and preventive medicine are two examples. Between the creation of the funds needed to start and maintain such programs, and their eventual payoff there is room for much inflation. Yet, we should not be too timorous: when Gandhi founded the Indian Institutions of Technology, it must have seemed a foolish move in a third world, mostly unindustrialized country; but today India is reaping great rewards from this initiative.

But the good side of the service sector is far from negligible. Say's law asserts that there can never be excess production because, collectively, workers spend their income on the consumption of the goods they produce. In reality, there are so many leakages and externalities that this law is of no practical import. But the service sector can make up for the shortcomings of Say's theories. Money created for the implementation of services for which there is a need and demand will quickly be used by the service workers for the purchase of commodities (and services). Say's law can thus be made to work. It's a matter of balance, but isn't all economics a matter of balance?

Goods have priority over services. Without denying the spiritual part of our nature, and without touting conspicuous consumption and moneylatry, it must be admitted that we are primarily physical entities living in a physical world. Economics can deal with humans who are both physical and spiritual; it can deal with purely physical beings, but it cannot deal with purely spiritual entities. Even mystics need their icons, beads, prayer mats, books, or whatever objects they use to connect to the spiritual. Services themselves, including education, are usually dependent to some extent on material things: tools, of course, but also roads (big asphalt ribbons), vehicles, buildings, books, computers, and so on. On an even more basic level, our very survival depends of the availability of physical things: food, air, water; fuel for heat; wood and ceramics for shelter. The infrastructure of a society has both a physical component and a mental one (laws, programs, etc.) [At this point, the reader should mentally go back to my previous references to goods and substitute goods (and services), the parentheses being used to help keep in mind the above prioritization.]

The implementation of seigniorage programs must be examined under two perspectives, the tactical and the strategic:

Comparatively short-term, individual projects are fairly straightforward: as long as the principle of two-way convertibility is respected, so that goods (and services) will balance the money creation, there should be no major problem, providing that the dangers due to the elasticity of the supply of services are kept in mind. All money is a form of credit: seigniorage just gives this aspect of money more importance. In both tactical and strategic endeavors, money should be no problem. If the enterprise makes sense;
if the plan is intelligent and realistic; if the ecological costs and other externalities are taken into consideration; and especially, if the two-way convertability of money is maintained.

Note that the classical expression, supply and demand, leaves out a factor that governments cannot neglect: need. Need and demand do not always coincide. The need for environmental laws for outstrip the popular demand for them. There must be certain demand for whoopee cushions -- since novelty stores sell them – but feww would insist that there is a need for them. Money should be created for the production of goods (and the promotion of services) for which there is both a need and a demand.

The strategic aspect is more complex. Seigniorage empowers a society to realize, in the foreseeable future, any realistic positive vision it may have of itself, because – if everything else is right – money is no object. To ascertain that a vision is realistic some questions must be pondered:

1. Do we have the natural resources needed?
2. Do we have the human resources?
3. Will our existing infrastructure support our programs?
4. Can we limit and control the ecological costs and other externalities?
5. If it happens that our activities, in spite of our precautions, are causing excessive inflation, can we take money out of circulation?

The first three questions must be answered positively; the last two are more nuanced. The externalities of question 4 include possible hidden and unforeseeable consequences of policies and decisions, hence the impossibility of a definite a priori yes answer. However, many such problems can be prevented with a little foresight. For example you do not plan to export luxury goods to a country what is expected to be involved shortly in major warfare; you do not exploit a mine if, as a result, you will pollute a major river and adjoining farmland; you do not use a fishing technique that is very effective for a certain fish, if it is harmful to other important fisheries; you do not engage in an enterprise if the activity would offend the local population for cultural or religious reasons, even though the venture would be economically profitable.

Question 5 can only be touched upon in this paper:
Money is not wealth. Too much of it can diminish wealth. Money is now very easy to create: banks do it, ex nihilo, every time the grant a loan or buy a security. (The kind of seigniorage I recommend would create less money than does our present financial system.) Textbooks explain the bookkeeping procedures and entries by which this scriptural money is created (only 5% of the money supply is in currency); but no book explains how this manna is destroyed. They simply say that the money is erased as the loan is repaid; but what is created by a bookkeeping algorithm must be killed by a bookkeeping algorithm.

Psychologically, killing money is not an easy thing to do. God, they claim, gives life and God takes life. In a scheme based on seigniorage, the Central Bank creates money, and the Central Bank kills it – but only some of it and only when necessary. By whatever means – loan repayments to the Central Bank, taxes, rent on public land, royalties on resources, profit-sharing arrangements, etc. – some of the money must end up in the coffers of the Central Bank. As the money supply churns and circulates through the economy, a portion of it should always be caught up in the Central Bank whirlpool. The latter can simply sit on it until there is a need to reinject it in the economy, or kill it by means of an open and verifiable accounting algorithm. This last procedure could even be performed on a specified day (we could call it Potlatch Day), yearly or bi-yearly. There would be no reason to worry about erasing too much money, since in a system permitting seigniorage, money can always be creates when needed, as long as the principle of two-way convertability and other caveats are respected.

But who makes the decision that the conditions and the timing are right for the creation of x amount of new money for project y? Can one individual such as the Governor of the Bank of Canada, or the chairman of the Reserve System take on the responsibility? – I think not. What we need is an appointed committee of wise men /women, such as the Open Market Committee of the Fed, or the Council of Economic Advisors. Such a group should be large enough to accommodate different interests and points of view, but not so large as to become a debating club, unable to come to decisions. It should, of course, contain experts from the financial world,but, also some members representing other interests and perspectives. Certainly, the head of the Central Bank and the Minster of Finance (or the equivalent) must be included. A path to follow for submissions for funds would be established, such as (for example only): local government, private company or NGO –> to government agency (ministry, department, etc.) –> to the committee of wise men/women –> to the Central Bank.

Seigniorage need not be 100% nor immediate. For example:

As we have seen above, banks and other financial institutions invent from thin air, the money that they lend. The government, through the Central Bank, should create that money.

Let me suggest a workable scheme:

When a bank grants a loan it borrows the principle from the Central Bank, which is mandated to create the money and lend it to the bank at zero interest. As the loan is repaid to the bank, the latter repays the Central Bank, thus profiting only from the interest (as is supposed to be the case).

This would constitute deferred seigniorage going to the government, but would not induce any inflation and no more money would be crated than is presently invented by our financial institutions. Should it come to pass that banks had been recuperating some or all of the principle of their loans all along and therefore would become insolvent once deprived of this manna, the Central Bank could apply negative interest. A $10,000 loan at –10% interest would be liquidated upon repayment of $9,000. The Central Bank and the private bank would thus share the seigniorage in a ratio of 9 to 1.

There are many possible schemes by which full or partial seigniorage can be garnered. Some of them would be more adaptable to left-wing governments, other to rightwing or centrist regimes. Developing countries could use seigniorage to escape the grasp of the World Band, the I.M.F. and other denatured Bretton Woods institutions.

Emerging economies can make progress faster if they use seigniorage from a left-wing perspective. A planned and managed economy can improve the living conditions of people much faster than one based on private enterprise. Privatization and entrepreneurship can be progressively introduce later until an optimal balance between pubic and private initiative is reached.

It is baffling that politicians have not realized that seigniorage can allow them to implement good projects without incurring the wrath of the population, which can be inspected when taxes are increased. Compared to taxes seigniorage is "ouchless."

And we do need taxes. Seigniorage can lighten the burden, but it cannot eliminate it. Taxes do more than fund the public enterprise: they can redistribute wealth, and they can be a tool for controlling the flow of money. They are one means of bringing part of the money supply under the control of the government. Since seigniorage can replace much of the tax revenue that would accrue to the money-creating institution – the federal government – it gives more tax-collecting power to states/provinces and to local governments, thus alleviating the unfunded mandate problem.

Last words:
It will be objected that seigniorage is a dangerous concept that can lead to hyperinflation. There are dangers, but they are moderate compared to the dangers represented by neoimperialism, global corporatism and a system that creates trillions of dollars that are unconnected to the world of work, goods and services. The economic cowboys are not on the side of the promoters of sensible seigniorage, but on the side of current global finance.

Finally, never forget the two-way convertibility principle. If you do, you might as well forget about seigniorage.

Credit as a Public Utility

RE-POSTED: SIX-PART VIDEO: Credit as a Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis"

This is a six-part professional-quality video that is over two hours in length. Each part consists of a lecture by Richard C. Cook on the economic crisis and its solution. The video was made on March 16, 2009, in the Maryland Room of the Prince George’s County Library, Hyattsville, MD. This is among the most in-depth critiques of our debt-based monetary system ever made. The video concludes with a program of reform based on the draft American Monetary Act, implementation of a Greenback-type currency, and a citizens’ dividend/basic income guarantee. The material is deeply rooted in the history of American public finance and the author’s experience of 21 years as a U.S Treasury Department analyst. His recommendations would replace the existing financial system, which mainly serves the interests of the financial oligarchy, with a new monetary system that would serve the needs of “We the People” and our producing economy. It would also replace Federal Reserve Notes with a new system of United States currency.

YouTube link: watch?v=Q3p48upXJaA&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

Many thanks to Lori at Dandelion Salad for getting the series reposted to YouTube when Google went out of the video business. Thanks Lo!

Link to Dandelion Salad site: credit-as-a-public-utility-the-solution-to-the-economic-crisis-by-richard-c-cook-videos

Click “Donate” button on homepage to place order for the 39-page script – $5.95.

Synposis

Part One of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“Our Early Political Leaders Warned Us Against the Banking Interests”

Early U.S. statesmen, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson worked to free the nation from control by the bankers who had been behind the establishment of the First and Second Banks of the United States. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln implemented a true democratic currency by spending Greenbacks directly into circulation without borrowing from the banks. These measures allowed the U.S. to develop for much of the 19th century largely free from bankers’ control. By the end of the century, this had changed, and the bankers were taking over.

Part Two of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“The Federal Reserve System: The Bankers Take Over”

President Lincoln’s Greenback system worked but was undermined and replaced by the financiers who got Congress to pass the National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864, then the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The United States now became a nation dominated by the financial elite, the banks, and a debt-based monetary system. Consequently, the 20th Century was one of constant cycles of inflation and deflation resulting in the economic chaos we see today.

Part Three of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“The Collapse of the Financial System”

The collapse we are seeing today began in the financial system, not the producing economy. The crisis started with the housing bubble which the Federal Reserve created by cutting interest rates and then brought own by raising them. The trigger of the 2008 bank meltdown was refusal by European banks to purchase any more “toxic” U.S. debt based on mortgages and sold as securities. Now, with the decline in equity values, the burden of debt in our economy has grown even larger. Thus a renewal of bank lending will not solve the problem, while the economic stimulus program of the Obama administration is likewise insufficient to restore economic health.

Part Four of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“What is Credit and Who Should Control It?”

Fractional reserve banking is the process by which banks create credit out of thin air. But despite abuses of the system, credit is still a crucial part of modern economics. An enlightened concept of governance would view credit as a public utility. This means that government must take back the control of credit from the private financiers.

Part Five of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“The Gap Between Prices and Income”

One of the most important and least understood concepts in modern economics is the existence of a gap between prices and purchasing power. This gap results when a portion of prices must be set aside as business and private savings. The money is then used by the financial system for lending and speculation. Keynesian economics takes control of some of the savings through government deficit spending but is still a compromise with control of the economy by the financiers. In fact Keynesian economics has helped cause the collapsing debt pyramid. A better system would be to provide consumers with a National Dividend as a way to monetize the continuous appreciation of the producing economy.

Part Six of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis

“The Greenback and National Dividend Solutions”

The U.S. should convert to a system where the money supply is created by the federal government by being spent into circulation without government borrowing or taxation as was done with the Greenbacks. The Federal Reserve should no longer be a bank of issue. Additionally, a National Dividend should be paid directly to the people. The “Cook Plan” calls for the initial distribution of vouchers in the amount of $1,000 a month plus a new system of community savings banks. Greenbacks combined with a National Dividend will create a non-inflationary democratic currency and transform the economy of the United States.