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Thwarting an Uber Future for Complementary Currencies: Open Protocols for a Credit Commons

Matslats - April 14, 2017 - 09:17

This paper, co-authored with Jem Bendell is our ticket to stand up at the RAMICS conference in Barcelona next month and invite the major complementary currency networks into cooperation around the next generation of software that we all need.

We will also be presenting developments after the conference at the hackathon.

AttachmentSize Bendell and Slater 2017.pdf531.86 KB
Categories: Blogs

2017 Spring Newsletter

Beyond Money - April 4, 2017 - 12:17

In this edition

  • October 2016 Tour Report
  • 2017 June Workshop in Greece
  • Global monetary system is headed over the cliff—An Open letter to Jim Rickards
  • Solar Dollars
  • Geopolitics

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October 2016 Tour Report

During my October 2016 tour, I gave three presentations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was a panelist at the Mitzas Festival in Sardinia, Italy. Two of the Malaysia presentations were at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth, and the third was an extended presentation and discussion (on October 10) at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity. The latter can be seen in its entirety on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8BejigzDAVY. The audio only can be found here, and the slide show used in my talk can be viewed here.

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2017 June Workshop in Greece

It’s time to get on board for my 2017 summer workshop, Monetary and Financial Innovation for the New Economy. The workshop will run from 16 to 23 June, 2017 at the Alexandros campus of the Kalikalos Holistic Summer School on the beautiful Pelion peninsula in Greece. This is a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of reciprocal exchange, basis of currency issuance and credit allocation, and to engage with like-minded peers to explore innovative designs and strategies for their implementation. All of this while enjoying gourmet quality vegetarian meals, fresh mountain air, and Aegean beaches at bargain prices.

I will again have the assistance of Matthew Slater, and there will be a guest appearance by Prof. Jem Bendell of Cumbria University (UK).

Space is limited so register now at http://www.kalikalos.com/community/x/exchange-finance-new-economy-thomas-greco/.

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Solar Dollars

 If you’ve so far missed hearing about it, you might want to have a look at my Solar Dollar white paper. It describes a way to create more liquidity in a local economy while at the same time providing incentives for a local utility company to generate and sell more energy from renewable sources. Solar Dollars are a win for the environment, a win for the utility company, and a win for the local economy. The implementation of a Solar Dollar currency will involve a partnership with an electric utility company somewhere and the support of local merchants, but by issuing Solar Dollars in the way that we prescribe, their value and general acceptability as a payment medium will be unquestioned. The full description can be found at https://beyondmoney.net/2016/08/26/solar-dollars-a-private-currency-with-multiple-benefits/.

One of my long-time colleagues in Germany was so impressed with the Solar Dollar proposal that he graciously took the trouble to translate the white paper into German. We’ve retitled the German version, Sonnen-taler (meaning “sun thaler,” the thaler being a silver coin that circulated in Europe for over 400 years and from which the word “dollar” is derived). That translated document, in Word format, can be found at https://beyondmoney.net/recent-articles/sonnen-taler/; the PDF version is at http://wp.me/a43RA-Kf.

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Global monetary system is headed over the cliff—An Open letter to Jim Rickards

Here is a letter I recently wrote to well-known author and investment advisor, Jim Rickards.

Hello Jim,

I’ve recently read your books, Currency Wars and The New Case for Gold. Your analysis of the global situation and financial instability are largely consistent with my own views, and your perspectives based on your high level contacts in government, banking and finance have been helpful.

I strongly agree with your conclusion that “the global monetary system is headed over the cliff” and that there seems to be, in “policy circles,” little cognizance of it or willingness to embrace solutions. Quite clearly, the control of money has enabled the centralization of power and concentration of wealth that is now reaching extreme proportions. That is why I have devoted most of my energies over the past 35 years to developing private, market-based, innovative systems for mediating reciprocal exchange and providing equitable and sustainable approaches to finance. I believe that reform of the global money system is not possible so we must create exchange mechanisms that do not involve banks nor require payment in dollars, euros, yen or any other political currency. There are established precedents that can be optimized and scaled up to eventually replace the present system that we agree is not sustainable.

In the face of imminent collapse of the global financial system it is not enough to try to preserve whatever wealth a few of us may already have, we must find ways to ameliorate the negative impacts of collapse and develop replacement systems before the crisis reaches the panic stage. The coming breakdown of global finance can also be the opportunity to install decentralized systems that are stable, sustainable, and work for the benefit of everyone. The most promising strategy in my opinion is to bring to market sound private and community currencies and to establish networks of direct credit-clearing circles that enable traders to create their own liquidity for themselves and their communities based on the real value of the goods and services they produce and sell.

Many such circles already exist in the form known as “Trade Exchanges” or “Barter Exchanges.” These enable businesses to trade with one another without using conventional money but instead by allocating sufficient credit to members within each circle to offset their purchases against their sales. So long as a business remains a member of the circle there is no need to settle their accounts provided that their balance remains within proper bounds and there is a reasonable flow through their accounts. One such trade exchange, The WIR Economic Circle Cooperative, founded in Switzerland in the midst of the Great Depression in 1934 as a self-help organization, has been operating successfully for more than 80 years (It is now called the WIR Bank and has added conventional banking services to its activities).

While your investment advice may be beneficial to the relative few who have a nest-egg to protect, survival in the face of chaotic breakdown of social, political, and financial structures (including markets), will require more comprehensive strategies based on cooperative, decentralized, peer-to-peer approaches to reciprocal exchange and finance. Are you willing to apply your significant abilities and resources to developing and implementing them? The very survival of civilization is at stake.

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Geopolitics

Snowden, the movie.

Snowden, the movie, is more than just another expose about government malfeasance. It is an alarm, sounding loud and clear that our government has gone far astray from its founding principles and Constitutional restraints. The story goes way beyond mass surveillance.

Read Brian Wright’s review here, watch Snowden’s 10 minute presentation at https://youtu.be/Fp1q2kv8zQw, then go see the movie, it’s entertaining as well as informative.

World War is Underway

Why is U.S. power being deployed to bring about regime change in so many countries, and to what end? Why is Russia being ring-fenced by the U.S. and NATO? Why is Putin being vilified in the media? Investigative journalist Robert Parry cuts through the propaganda machine to report significant unreported facts that reveal a much different picture. Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia? http://ccisf.org/really-want-nuclear-war-russia/

What’s at the root of the Syrian Crisis?

Leaked e-mails from the private US intelligence firm, Stratfor, revealed notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials which confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces’ training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal then was to bring about the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.” Read it here.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Having read his earlier work, I was eager to get my hands on John Perkins’ new version titled, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. In this book, Perkins adds his voice to many others in demolishing the myth of the United States being the global champion promoting freedom and democracy throughout the world. Instead, he reports how the “Corporatocracy” has spread around the world using subtle methods of seduction and cooptation to persuade national leaders to lead their people into the debt trap from which they have no hope of escape; and when those methods fail to work, threats, intimidation, subversion and destabilization follow; and if those methods also fail, more overt military interventions are employed. Perkins recalls numerous well-know U.S.-led coups over the years, including the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, in which the CIA has acknowledged its complicity; the 1954 overthrow of democratically elected President Jocobo Arbenz in Guatemala; the 1973 coup that deposed Chilean President Salvador Allende, as well as others. Reading this book will dispel any illusions you might still have about the purpose of more recent U. S. interventions in other sovereign countries. Besides providing a vast amount of information about the geo-political facts-of-life, Perkins’ story is deeply personal and as engaging as any well written spy novel.

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Spring is the time when many forms of life emerge anew from their dormant state. The results of last November’s elections in the U.S. seem to have generated enough “heat” to stir Americans from their complacency about the state of our democracy. Let us hope that their actions will lead to better mutual understanding and cooperative actions that promote fundamental human values.

Thomas


Categories: Blogs

Protocol Cooperativism?

Matslats - March 29, 2017 - 02:08

Since 'political economy' became a subject in the 18th century, the predominant political dichotomy has been framed as labour versus capital. Marx talked about 'control of the means of production' as the essential political power that the workers needed to wrest from the capitalists. A great deal of activism and political theory continues in that vein: Gar Alpowitz work What then must we do? is all about rebuilding worker-owned coops and similar institutions. We have 150 years of history testifying to their effectiveness.

But lets face it, as a strategy, the movement has waxed and waned, but never (yet) overcome its antithesis; capitalists have the power to issue almost unlimited credit, and social movements, however popular, seem always to be on the back foot. I am dubious whether worker-owned institutions will ever dominate the economy. On the one hand we see economic justice trying to break out in many forms and places, and on the other dark and powerful forces are suppressing them: laws are being changed to make coops less competitive, and occasionally a countries swims against the neoliberal flow suffer a CIA-led regime change. The Power that controls property also controls the law, the media, the security forces, the military and the banks.

The industrial age needed machinery and factories and hence empowered those with capital and property to invest. That thinking has carried through to the digital era in which a Silicon Valley start-up needs huge amounts of money to engage a raft of skilled people to create (and create a market for) a plethora of unneeded tools, one of which might survive and be sold for a massive profit. Yet there is nothing about the internet that necessitates that capital-centric way of creating wealth. Platform cooperativism is the notion that the digital 'means of production', the platform, should be owned by, governed by and should enrich the participating value creators. As an approach and as a tactic, it is a straight extension of rudimentary 19th Century cooperativism into the digital age and cyberspace. In which case we should anticipate it working as it always has on the sidelines but never to impact the wider economy.

I believe another strategy shows promise. Let us not focus on property and ownership and control, but on relationships and protocols and collaboration. There are plenty of precedents to work with, but I haven't seen this thinking applied in the platform cooperativism space.

By protocol I mean a language, convention, or standard. Use of such things cannot be restricted, prevented or monetised any more than use of a word, gesture, or social code. The Internet is essentially a set of protocols such as TCP/UDP, http, HTML, which led to a highly egalitarian participative infrastructure. That need not have been so: in a parallel universe, Microsoft R&D invented the web and now every page is a visual-basic-enhanced word document; MS Office is the only tool for authoring web-pages, and it costs $5000 for a licence and still looks wrong on Firefox!

Fortunately that particular dystopia was avoided because we had those open protocols. I think that is why the early Web inspired a great deal of optimism about the levelling of the socio-economic playing field - recall John Perry Barlow: We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us... We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. A cyberspace Independence Declaration

The basic internet remains free as designed: we still pay nothing for example for sending an email or retrieving a web page but something has gone wrong. The Internet continued to grow, as with all technologies, as new layers were built; the internal logic of each layer is entirely independent of the others just as the stable atomic model of protons, neutrons and electrons owes nothing to the fuzzy quantum reality on which it is based. Gradually the capitalist interests worked out how to replicate their own logic and structures in cyberspace. On top of the open protocols they built pay walls, monetised services and enclosed spaces. The rules are different at every level. In 2017 it seems normal that platforms large and small, own data and control economic territory for the benefit of private investors. The biggest platforms have the most users and the most money and the most political power and that is why I find it hard to imagine any platform like minds.com competing head-to-head with Facebook, and winning. I want to expand upon this argument: A platform cooperative or a platform company model is not one that takes full advantage of the potential to have a truly distributed network. They still have a central platform operator at their core, providing coordination, quality assurance and, most essentially, trust. However, it is possible to go beyond platforms to protocols - to commonly agreed ways of operating. Thus anyone who agrees to the rules can become a part of the network.Mikko Dufva

Ride-sharing is the poster child of the sharing economy, the pressure point chosen by platform cooperatives, and the current fiefdom of Uber. It could be considered a natural monopoly, which is to say it involves infrastructure which need not be duplicated - users don't want to have multiple identities, apps, user interfaces, price structures etc. So Uber's near monopoly, won as a direct result of having unimaginable access to money, is an invaluable commercial advantage in itself because without serious competition it can squeeze the market for all it is worth. But be careful what you wish for; should Uber fall from grace, the market would probably splinter into many incompatible pieces, which benefits neither the people with cars nor those who need rides.

A platform cooperative ride-sharing service sounds like an attempt to form a cooperative and compete with Uber by recycling profits and remunerating workers better. Its not a very convincing business plan if only because Uber has resources to undercut its competition until they choke and allegedly acts illegally to sabotage its enemies.

But a protocol for ride-sharing changes the game completely. Anyone could sign up to the network and announce their intention to travel or willingness to chauffeur. A simple algorithm would connect them and at journey's end they might remunerate each other in cash, Bitcoin, home-brewed cider or anything; the line between giving a friend a favour and earning a crust would be very grey. There would be no middle men collecting rent or dictating how drivers should behave as representatives of the company. The protocol might be extended to support long distance travel, hitch-hiking, pick-up points, packages or even cargo. The open protocol creates a free market - not in the neoliberal sense of Wall Street being able to flush out the economy of any country it likes with imaginary dollars, but in the sense that suppliers and customers can meet with the minimal of mediation and restrictions. This might not be optimal for collecting taxes, but is optimal for granting everyone access to the economy, and probably much more efficient in terms of using our existing transport infrastructure.

So where is the 'cooperative' in 'protocol cooperatives'? In my view such protocols are are fundamentally cooperative, but there is room for any kind of institutional structures on the next layer. Institutions (like co-ops) are not needed to crunch algorithms and own infrastructure that should be public, but to manage trust and social relations. Transport service providers could aggregate to offer services that individuals could not. For example a group might form to co-own a coach, helicopter, or fleet of electric cars. A co-op might provide a 24/7 private ambulance service, or a house removal service complete with furniture-carriers.

Likely such a protocol widely deployed would render our transport ecosystem unrecognisable. It might obviate most full time driver jobs in favour of hitch-hiking 2.0 approach. The free market would level out the full time driving jobs and the unemployment of drivers and costs and revenues, leading presumably to a more equal society (at least until driver-less cars took over!)

The blockchains are already making this happen because blockchains are basically protocols which allow open participation. This article about Arcade City makes it clear: In the end, Arcade City will be a protocol composed of Ethereum smart contracts supporting a global logistics network with an entire ecosystem of apps and businesses running on top of our infrastructure. What SMTP is to email, Arcade City will become for distributed logistics. For all the bluster about Arcade City being an upcoming platform coop, to me it seems there is no platform in the sense of a thing which can be owned & sold. What then does the brochure site mean when it claims to be owned and operated by its members? It seems to me that the language is wrong.

The benefits and challenges of co-owning and operating a legal entity such a cooperative within a legal jurisdiction, are quite different to the benefits and challenges of using, governing and stewarding a universal protocol. Regrettably Arcade City has now forked after a disagreement in the board, which poses serious questions about the claim that its members were in control. Technology alone will not create the society we want; at a more fundamental level, we have to learn to work together.

Professor Jem Bendell and I have explored these ideas further in our new paper Thwarting an Uber Future for Complementary Currencies: Open Protocols for a Credit Commons especially as they relate to payment systems, which we argue is the ultimate Death Star platform.

Categories: Blogs

The End of Finance (audiobook, unabridged)

Matslats - March 27, 2017 - 05:55

Here is section 1.

For the first two recordings I filtered out the background noise, but after that preferred the ore organic sound.

When the whole book is done I'll make it available as a single zip file.

AttachmentSize Intro22.4 MB S1 Ch01 Do we know what the financial markets are?28.16 MB S1 Ch02 Liquidity and Risk30.12 MB S1 Ch03 What is credit?28.39 MB S1 Ch04 What is money?21.24 MB S1 Ch05 Finance starting from the end26.85 MB S1 Ch06 Capitalism and debt: a matter of life and death28.9 MB
Categories: Blogs

Recovery? What recovery?

Beyond Money - March 20, 2017 - 12:59

Despite the happy talk coming out of Washington and New York about the supposed economic recovery, the present economic and political order remains on course toward self-destruction. I’ve said it over and over again that the fundamental flaw is the compound interest that is built into the global debt-money regime. The fact that virtually all money is created by banks that “lend” it into circulation at interest causes debts to grow faster and faster with the passage of time. A quick glance at the timeline for public and private debt makes this obvious.

Prof. Richard Wolff, in the video below, does not mention this debt-growth imperative, but he does a good job of explaining how the governments and the central banks managed to temporarily forestall total collapse following the 2008 financial crisis, and why their actions are failing to solve the basic problem of slack demand.

We need to look beyond economic ideologies to find ways of defusing the debt bomb which grows bigger and more deadly with every passing day. A shift toward innovative, interest-free, approaches to the exchange of value and the financing of enterprise development provides the most promising route toward a soft landing. See The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.


Categories: Blogs

Universal Basic Income, an idea whose time has come…again

Beyond Money - March 1, 2017 - 10:35

In ancient Israel, Mosaic Law, in addition to the division of the land among the tribes and families, delineated several ingenious provisions to assure the welfare of all. Recognizing the tendency in organized societies for inequities to develop over time, it prescribed such measures as the sabbatical year, the jubilee year,  gleaning and the prohibition of usury. Some of these, in some form, were carried over into the Christian era, but over time mercantile and industrial demands overshadowed social concerns. The mid-twentieth century saw tremendous gains in productivity along with renewed demands by the laboring class and racial minorities for a more just distribution of the collective wealth, but over the past 35 years many of the social programs that were instituted by governments have been under systematic attack by powerful reactionary forces resulting in massive increases in the disparities of income and wealth. These disparities bring with them increased violence, crime, addiction, and deteriorating quality of life for all.

Now, with automation rapidly reducing the need for human labor, the separation of livelihood from jobs is becoming an obvious necessity.

Here below are two pertinent videos, and this article mentions a few places where basic income allowances are being tried.


Categories: Blogs

Kucinich: U.S. Intelligence community trying to undermine Trump, rekindle Cold War

Beyond Money - February 23, 2017 - 10:41

In this Fox News interview, former Ohio Congressman and Presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, sounds the alarm that entrenched elements in the U.S. Intelligence community are working to undermine the Trump presidency and derail his attempts to normalize relations with Russia.

When you consider the economic and financial implications of peace, it makes complete sense that the military-industrial-banking complex would fight tooth and nail to stir up conflicts around the world, which is precisely what has been happening.

Whatever we might think of Trump as a man or as a President, the people must rally to support his efforts to cooperate with Russia in quelling the turmoil in Syria and the middle-east and move the world toward peace.


Categories: Blogs

Mobile phone app for any community platform - latest.

Matslats - February 22, 2017 - 02:30

In the complementary currency movement most of us have been so preoccupied with our software platforms that we haven't had the capacity to build apps; when apps are built, they are tightly coupled to one platform, making them difficult to share.

Building a mobile phone app means defining an API in which all the objects to be manipulated are described field by field. The app and the server send these objects back and forth, and, knowing the fields, the app can apply the data objects to built in templates to display them. In fact the whole user experience is determined by the javascript css and templates of which the app is comprised.

The different community exchange platforms have very similar data types, and need a similar user experience, but they do have slight differences which means a 'highest common factor' API would be extremely minimal. What's needed therefore is known as a 'self-describing REST API'.

It turns out however that REST is an extremely diverse school of how to write applications. The original specification of REST had everything being self-described, but this was rather cumbersome for projects with very specific functions, and nowadays almost nothing does it the original way, there are no standards and conventions are weak.

So I feel a bit in the dark as I'm working with two volunteers to build a mobile app for community platforms and community exchange platforms. Version 1 will handle 4 resource types, offers, wants, transactions, and members, and the app will know enough about each to provide a nice user experience.

I attempted to define the API on Swagger but realised that what I want to describe is the very abstraction of what Swagger is doing. Each of my four resources have different fields and operations on different platforms, but they are all described in exactly the same way - but what formal language exists for meta-swagger, and do I have time/inclination to learn it, and if I did, is anybody likely to read it?

I've written a small php application to sit between the web platform and the Client, serving up the REST API. Each platform that wishes to use it must extend a base object for each of the four REST resources. Each platform author must defines the resources' fields, handle user authentication, and read and write to its database.

Since the resources are described so generically, additional resources could easily be added, although the client won't know enough about them to make them user-friendly beyond the standard operations of listing, filtering, sorting, creating, viewing, updating, deleting. The platform can also define operations on each resource such as user->contact, or transaction->sign, or blog-post->like, which would appear as buttons on the app, so there's quite a lot of flexibility there.

In fact I'm wondering if this might have wider applications for building clients which simply browse and manipulate REST data. I can't believe nobody else is doing this.

Just to clarify, the long term vision is to disintermediate these web platforms entirely. The politics of community network software revolves around what umbrella groups communities are in and what platforms they have been offered. I'm proposing that eventually the clients (meaning the mobile phone app) would access myriad data services, such as accounting and offers/wants directly, without cumbersome platforms in the middle. Step by step.

Categories: Blogs

Bloomberg: The IMF Should Get Out of Greece

Beyond Money - February 20, 2017 - 16:44

It has long been evident the Greek government, over the years, has been so overburdened with debt that much of it would eventually need to be forgiven. Now, even the mainstream media is touting that as the necessary solution to Greece’s predicament. In his recent article, published on the Bloomberg website, Princeton Prof. and former IMF deputy research director Ashoka Mody argues that the IMF is to blame for Greece’s debt situation and that it ought to pull out. He proposes that the IMF’s principal shareholders — the Europeans and Americans, must “honorably accept real losses.”

But he also points out that “the IMF’s Board, over the fierce opposition of several executive directors, the Europeans and Americans pushed through a bailout program that, contrary to the fund’s rules, did not impose losses on Greece’s private creditors. The decision was based on a spurious claim that “restructuring” private debt would trigger a global financial meltdown.”

So, here we have another case of private bank creditors being bailed-out. Yes, the Greek debt must be forgiven to allow the Greek economy to recover, but the burden now falls upon European and American citizens instead of on the banks’ owners, where it properly belongs.


Categories: Blogs

Thomas Greco’s 2017 Summer Workshop in Greece

Beyond Money - February 11, 2017 - 09:14

Following last summer’s exciting and successful workshop in Greece, Thomas Greco will again this summer be conducting a workshop in Monetary and Financial Innovation for the New Economy at the Alexandros campus of the Kalikalos Holistic Summer School on the beautiful Pelion peninsula in Greece.

[Edit:During the 2017  workshop Tom will again have the assistance of Matthew Slater and the benefit of a guest appearance by Prof. Jem Bendell of Cumbria University (UK).]

In this week-long workshop we will examine the problems and deficiencies of both conventional money and local currencies and exchange systems, and delve into the principles and practices of innovative exchange and finance.

Over the past three decades, a great many complementary currencies and exchange schemes have sprung up, gained some degree of acceptance and notoriety, then faded away. This workshop will focus in on the reasons why none of them has become a significant factor in their community economies, and uncover the principles of design and implementation that need to be applied to make exchange alternatives more effective, robust, and scalable. It will also cover new ways of providing entrepreneurs with the resources needed to bring their ideas to fruition and achieve success in the marketplace.

Alexandros Center

This course is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, government officials, enthusiastic agents of change, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. In this highly participatory workshop, we will use a combination of presentations, discussion groups (some on the beach), videos, and simulation games, to dive deeply into the process of exploring and developing innovative methods of finance, exchange, and value measurement. Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their projects and ideas and receive feedback from the group.

Here is an opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading experts in innovative economics, finance, and exchange, and to collaborate with like-minded peers to create a new economy that works for everyone, while enjoying a delightful summer holiday on the magical Pelion peninsula. Come join us in a process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration.

The workshop will run from 16 to 23 June, 2017. Space is limited so register early at http://www.kalikalos.com/community/x/exchange-finance-new-economy-thomas-greco/.

#   #   #

 All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation. –John Adams, second president of the United States.

Just as the political monetary system trends power toward the state, so the system based on true money will release the natural forces that trend society toward private initiative, enterprise and democracy. Pending this fundamental reversal, all resistance to statism is futile. As long as the only available monetary system is political, exchange, that process by which the social order functions, will never accomplish its natural purpose, the development of prosperity and freedom.– E.C. Riegel, Flight From Inflation


Categories: Blogs

Will Tradeswap disrupt Business barter?

Matslats - February 5, 2017 - 19:44

I've been blogging occasionally about business barter, a sector I would very much like to see disrupted. As a monetary reformer and someone who wants to see an economy that enables trade rather than inhibits it, business barter is the critical tool which is already available and needs no legislative changes.

Yet the sector isn't serving those aims at the moment, being highly segmented and very expensive to use. Disruptive business models are needed to make barter more appealing, more affordable and more scalable.

That's why I've been encouraged by meeting Laurence Anderson in Melbourne, Australia and seeing his life's work, with TradeSwap Laurence has spent most of his career working for various trade exchanges in the region, and only comparatively recently decided to coalesce his vast address book into his own exchange.

Laurence doesn't thrive in the role of manager or owner, and when designing his trade exchange, didn't seek to create a vast dominion and live from the rent. Laurence prefers the role of salesman, and a matchmaker, and TradeSwap is setup to reward those who grow the network and make trades happen. He boasts of having only 20 minutes a month work to trigger all the commission payments, and the rest of the time he's working as a trader.

While Laurence is the main trader on his platform maybe it is academic whether he's paid by commission or by rent. But now he's hoping to bring other traders onto the platform to build their careers. It works like multi-level marketing, so recruiters and matchmakers are rewarded for what happens up to 5 levels below them.

Laurence sees himself as a barter-activist, and that's why he's invested AUD $200K in developing the app on which it all happens to enable anybody to participate on equal terms.

Laurence's next question is how to take TradeSwap to the next level. He doesn't want to be a social media geek, or a pen pusher or a strategist, he thrives on the road doing what he does best. The system will work in any country, but how should Laurence, identify, recruit, train or poach deal makers worldwide when all his own networks are in the state of Victoria?

So I'm wishing Laurence every success. If I had the chance to redesign his system, I would do it only slightly differently:

Politically the network and the software and the intellectual property of the software still belong to Laurence. As it grows across countries and continents, the governance/ownership model is set to stay the same, so it would grow into a massive system under his control. This can be good for quality and branding - he is adamant about transparent accounting and respecting zero balances - but other innovators will be unwiling to build on what they cannot own.

So, as the Credit Commons White Paper explains, I would like to see more emphasis on the development of protocols for interoperability between platforms/networks. A single barter network need not span several countries (several regulatory domains) but can connect to networks in other domains.

If we are to allow the creation of sub networks within a greater barter network, then each sub network needs to have political independence meaning its own bank account, its own conditions of membership, its own rules for setting credit limits and commissions, and crucially, its own brand or reputation. Joining one network or another should not affect who you can trade with but it should affect the risk/reward ratio of participating.

So contact TradeSwap of you are looking to make barter sexy again, to upgrade to a 'mobile first' software, or forge a new career building an economy without money.

Categories: Blogs

Roberts says raise taxes on corporations’ offshore profits; the FED manipulates all markets, may crash the economy.

Beyond Money - January 25, 2017 - 12:11

Here is another excellent interview of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts in which he outlines the political situation in the U.S, some of the prospects for the Trump administration, limits to Presidential power,  and what would need to be done to rebuild the American economy.


Categories: Blogs

Israel Slaps Capital Tax on Bitcoins

Beyond Money - January 23, 2017 - 10:39

According to Barter News Weekly, the Israeli government will now charge capital gains tax on profits made from Bitcoin transactions. here is their report:

TEL AVIV – Transactions involving Bitcoins in Israel could be treated as barter transactions, and profits from coin sales could be charged a capital gains tax.

Late last week the Israeli Tax Authority issued a circular detailing the authority’s stance on the taxation of cryptocurrencies, saying that the Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies shall be treated as assets when sold.

Cryptocurrencies are often considered to fall into a legal grey area for the purposes of taxation, with some countries classifying them as financial instruments, or currency, or an equivalent of a currency, or an asset.

The ITA has now decided that any cryptocurrency sold in Israel shall be regarded as the sale of an asset, and, subsequently, will carry a potential capital gains tax obligation.

The profits made from the sale of cryptocurrencies will need to be declared to the tax authority.

Some experts have noted that if the currency is treated as assets, any businesses accepting crypto-coins as payment will need to treat the transaction as a barter transaction, and will be required to complete their tax filling obligations accordingly.

The treatment of cryptocurrency as an assets does not preclude any transactions from falling under the scope of the country’s VAT system.

It has been said that, “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” Well, the decision of the Israeli tax authorities to tax Bitcoin transactions as asset transfers may not destroy Bitcoin as a speculative medium, but it will surely inhibit its use as a payment medium. The money and banking cartel hates competition.–t.h.g.


Categories: Blogs

'Mutual credit' on Wikipedia

Matslats - January 21, 2017 - 16:25

I just spent rather longer than I care to admit completely revamping the wikipedia article on mutual credit.

This seemed valuable to me because that idea has been the focal point of my work, and source of much inspiration, since starting this blog in 2008, and I feel it is a simple yet profound idea which is appreciated only by a few money geeks.

In addition I've never seen a definition which satisfied me, rather, people assume what it means, so maybe this article will help some future scholar to better move towards a satisfactory definition!

Categories: Blogs

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explains the geopolitical facts of life

Beyond Money - January 2, 2017 - 01:30

This video featuring Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a “must view.” Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan, explains very clearly how Greece was lured into its present predicament and made a “colony of the EU.”

If the Greek economy is to be rebuilt and some measure of Greek independence restored, ways must be found to create domestic liquidity independent of the global banking system . Domestic currencies might be issued by the national government or by regional governments, or liquidity could be created by private enterprises in the form of private currencies or credit clearing exchanges. I’ve explained in detail how this can be done in my article, 50 Ways to Leave the Euro.

Looking beyond Greece, Roberts speaks about inflation and unemployment and the true state of the U.S. economy, as well as U.S. foreign policy and the causes of the current geopolitical crisis.

Other important videos to watch are:
Max Keiser’s December 22 interview of Roberts, where he talks about Trump’s cabinet picks and relations with Russia, and
Michel Chossudovsky’s take on the “sweeping measures taken [against Russia] by Obama on December 29.”
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Categories: Blogs

December 31, 1969 - 17:00
Categories: Blogs, Economics