Society is Exchange! – Frederic Bastiat.
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.
– President John Adams, from a letter to Thomas Jefferson (1787-08-25), in The Works of John Adams
As the time grows near I want to remind everyone that my workshop on innovative finance and exchange is set to begin in about 10 days time at Kalikalos Holistic Summer School in Greece (http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance). It will start on the evening of 24 June and conclude on the morning of 1 July.
While it is described as a “course,” the format will be that of a workshop/colloquium in which everyone plays an active role in an intensive process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration aimed at:
1. achieving a deeper understanding of sound principles of credit, finance, and the exchange process, and,
2 developing action plans for the design and implementation of robust systems that can be widely proliferated and quickly scaled up to global dimensions.
3. assembling a knowledge base that can provide guidance to others on the same path toward achieving more equitable and sustainable economic structures.
There is still space available for those who feel moved to participate.
Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance.
Some of the areas that we will explore include:
- The essence, function, and forms of money
- The concepts of currency, credit, credit clearing, liquidity, monetization, and basis of issue
- Various models of private currencies and moneyless exchange
- Value measurement and units of account
- Exchange networks and inter-trading
Don’t let finances stop you as will be able to offer a limited amount of bursaries. Please write an application for that to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We offer Greek participants who take part in the week-long workshop a discount of 30%.
The weekend Saturday, 25 and Sunday 26 is being offered to Greeks on a Gift Economy basis which means that you offer what you are able to give. If you want to participate on these terms please send a mail to: email@example.com.
I look forward to working with you. –Thomas
I have long argued that the likelihood of getting government to do anything “good” about the money problem is near zero because the controllers of the present monetary regime are able to buy the kind of government they want that will keep in place the system that enables them to consolidate their power and increase their wealth.
Even if your proposal to restore the Greenback could be legislated into actuality it would only be a stop-gap measure and there would be negative side-effects. FDR ameliorated the 1930s crisis in a somewhat similar way and managed to get some progressive legislation passed, and WWII provided the excuse for massive government deficit spending (along with rationing and “bond drives” to control consumer demand).
Massive increases in productivity enabled a flood of consumer goods to enter the market after the war, and people had the money to buy them.
But in today’s world the old tricks will not be sufficient. We need a totally new system of money, banking and finance, one that is decentralized and interest-free. This will emerge by the design and deployment of relatively small credit clearing exchanges in which it is possible to build trust through personal relationships (verified identity and reputation of all parties, along with organizational transparency), and to allocate credit to members based on that and the market value of their output. At the same time, these credit clearing exchanges can be networked together to enable non-monetary payment on a global basis–a payment system that I describe as “locally based but globally useful.”
We will have an “exchange revolution” that is analogous to the IT revolution. Our micro-computers were initially isolated and had limited capabilities; now we have tremendous power right at out fingertips to do many useful things, and our local devices are linked through the internet giving us unprecedented access to each other almost anywhere and anytime, and almost unlimited amounts of information on most any subject.
Realization of this vision is close at hand.–t.h.g.
I’m excited to be back in Greece and reconnecting with my colleagues here. The mood here seems to be more subdued as the people try to cope with asset privatization, wage and pension cuts, higher taxes and other conditions imposed from outside. I’m told that mortgage foreclosures will begin soon, which may trigger some popular reaction. The metro workers in Athens have announced they will be striking for several hours each day over the next few days. Fortunately the hours of service disruption have been posted so one is able to plan accordingly.
All of this underlines the urgency of designing and implementing systems that are capable of devolving power to the national, community, and personal levels. For me, the most effective strategy seems to be reclaiming the “credit commons”. That is what we will be working on during my workshop on innovation in exchange and finance from 24 June thru 1 July, 2016 at Kalikalos Holistic summer school near Volos, Greece.
Space is still available if you would like to participate. Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. Don’t let finances stop you; we will be able to offer a limited amount of bursaries (Please write an application to our team firstname.lastname@example.org).
Special arrangements for Greek participants provide them (1) a discount of 33% on the full course, or (2) for those who can participate only on the weekend of 25/26 June, an invitation to do so on the basis of a free will offering.
This will be a workshop/colloquium in which everyone plays an active role in an intensive process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration aimed at:
- achieving a deeper understanding of the principles of credit, finance, and the exchange process, and,
- developing action plans for the design and implementation of robust systems that can be widely proliferated and quickly scaled up to global dimensions.
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This was published at: https://www.community-exchange.org/docs/smalladsrfi.html
This request for information is seeking partners and friends to work on an open directory of ads to support grass roots economies. The requirements are almost exactly the same as my 2011 RFI, but now with the added weight of CES.
Greetings Alumni of the Money and Society MOOC,
Jem and I decided to keep in touch with you with this new Biannual newsletter. It includes some headlines I found interesting, and other tidbits about what Jem and I are doing.
The MOOC will continue as long we get new people, and we think the best promoters are the people who have done it. Please have a think about which of your friends, colleagues and social networks should know about the MOOC, and send them to this link. http://iflas.blogspot.co.id/2014/12/money-and-society-mooc.html Thanks!
Last month I published a white paper showing what a decentralised credit network would look like using modern technology and pointing out that such a thing could be built from the grassroots up and would be highly appropriate during a time of recession. Check out the 16 page pdf on the Credit Commons web site.
I've been working with Alumnus Pal Graabein on a new HTML5 media format for the MOOC, so that we can be more open source and interoperable and consistent. We have drafted up lesson 1, but all the slide contents need to be transposed by hand into the new format and beautifully arranged. I reckon anybody who is good at moving files around in windows explorer could do it. Would someone like to volunteer a few hours to do that?
This winter I read Felix Martin's book, Money: The Unauthorised Biography, and learned lots of new things! As a classical scholar he describes how money originated as a combination of the accounting systems in Babylonia and systems of social obligations in Greece, entirely avoiding slavery and conquest so prevalent in David Graeber. He also explains the origin of the bank of England very well, as a marriage of the Sovereign's need for credit with the need of commerce to issue credit with the ultimate backing, taxes!
Money & society news
The way that money works in society is changing all the time, now especially as the zero-interest regime is becoming the new normal. Mixed up in that discourse is the need to eradicate cash, and all the privacy and convenience that cash implies; obviously the banking system would collapse the moment everyone tries to withdraw cash because bank credit loses value. There are many arguments being made against cash but few for. Cash is expensive to handle, carries diseases, enables money laundering (by non-bank actors), and would be hoarded out of circulation if bank deposits have negative interest.
Yannis Varoufakis the former Greek Finance Minister, is very busy these days promoting a new vision for Europe. In this important article he says we should pick up Keynes' model for a global economy which was rejected at Bretton Woods.
UK do-gooder celebrities Joanna Lumley and Brian Blessed participated in an anti-cash PR campaign. The language is very interesting. Don't forget that credit card companies 'lose out' on 2-3% of the transaction value whenever we pay in cash. Here is a robust defence of cash from an Austrian perspective.
Catalonia is flexing its separatist muscles, here seen threatening to use its debt to the Spanish government as a bargaining chip, or even a weapon. Bloomberg calls it a game of chicken: if Catalonians defaulted their banks and cash machines would quickly lose access to Euros. To withstand such an attack they would need an alternative currency. Unfortunately the one we know about isn't getting much traction.
Not only Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece & Spain, Puerto Rico and Catalonia are having 'liquidity' crises, but Saudi Arabia is suffering from low oil prices. As a last resort, the government might issue IOUs, which some would say is what all governments should have been doing all along.
Finally here is an attempt to hack banking and money from a legal point of view. It will take you a good 10-20 mins to get the idea. References to 'off-planet helpers' aside. could there be any substance to such attempts? Does it depend on their ability to win something in court, or on their ability to create belief?
All for now,
An academic study from the European School of Management and Technology highlights the utter futility of the bailout programs in pulling Greece out of the quagmire of debt bondage and economic depression.The report concludes:
“This paper provides a descriptive analysis of where the Greek bailout money went since 2010 and finds that, contrary to widely held beliefs, less than €10 billion or a fraction of less than 5% of the overall programme went to the Greek fiscal budget. In contrast, the vast majority of the money went to existing creditors in the form of debt repayments and interest payments. The resulting risk transfer from the private to the public sector and the subsequent risk transfer within the public sector from international organizations such as the ECB and the IMF to European rescue mechanisms such as the ESM still constitute the most important challenge for the goal to achieve a sustainable fiscal situation in Greece.”
See Rocholl *, J., and A. Stahmer(2016). Where did the Greek bailout money go? ESMT White Paper No. WP–16–02. http://static.esmt.org/publications/whitepapers/WP-16-02.pdf
There has been lots of chatter lately about bitcoin, blockchain technology, and crypto-currency. Everyone, including me, is trying to wrap their head around it all. This is what I’ve come up with so far:
- Bitcoin is a virtual commodity that is created by running some obscure algorithm. The people who get rewarded are the “miners” who burn up enormous amounts of computer time and electricity to create Bitcoin. That makes it akin to mining gold or silver—not a very useful pursuit, and like any commodity, people will prefer to use it as a savings medium or hedge against inflation rather than circulating it as a currency. Bitcoin is NOT the answer to the money problem.
- The important thing about blockchain technology is what it can do, what functions it can perform. You hear a lot about “smart contracts” and a secure trail of transactions. It seems to be something that is needed when using digital forms of contracts and transactions conducted over the internet, but provides no new functions compared to what has always been done with paper trails and records, but maybe I’m missing something.
- The term “crypto-currency” is ill defined and there is much confusion about the characteristics of such a currency and what it can achieve.
- The fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange still hold. The substance of a currency or payment medium is CREDIT. Claims still need to be authenticated and promises need to be guaranteed.
My grand, audacious vision is this:
TO ENABLE ANYONE, ANYWHERE TO USE WHAT THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR WHAT THEY WANT.
What they might have is skills, abilities, products, services and credit that is advanced by a circle of people who know them and trust that they are ready, willing, and able to deliver value on demand in the near term.
I have argued that the truly disruptive technology of exchange is a global network of small credit-clearing circles that provide “a means of payment that is locally based and controlled yet globally useful. It makes money and banks, as we’ve known them, obsolete.
My talk in Malaysia in October at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://ifiw.my/) will be on that topic and will build upon the framework that I laid out in my book chapter, https://beyondmoney.net/excerpts/chapter-17-complete-web-based-trading-platform/. –t.h.g.
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Europe. I’ve booked my flight to Europe. I’ll be landing in Milan, Italy on 31 May, will remain there for 2 or 3 days, then travel onward to Athens, Volos, and Pelion.
As I mentioned in my January newsletter, I will be conducting a weeklong course in innovative finance, exchange, and economics from 24 June thru 1 July at the Alexandros campus of the Kaliklos Holistic Summer School. This collaborative and problem-centered course titled, Exchange and Finance for the New Economy: Principles and Practice, is intended to stimulate the development and deployment of community currencies, moneyless exchange system, and equitable finance, and is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, enthusiastic agents of change, government officials, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. Besides learning and co-creation, courses at Kalikalos also provide participants with opportunities for community building, personal growth, and recreation.
I am excited to be returning again this year to Greece and to be working with course participants to achieve some truly revolutionary outcomes. We’d be pleased to have you join us.
Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. One or two bursaries may be available to qualified low income participants.
Greek participants are being offered (1) a discount of 33% on the full course, or (2) for those who are able to participate only on the weekend of 25/26 June, an invitation to do so on the basis of a free will offering.
Malaysia. I’ve accepted an invitation to speak in October at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://www.ifiw.my/) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The subject of my presentation will be a revolutionary plan for the creation of a global exchange network based on locally controlled credit clearing exchanges. This will be an elaboration of ideas I first laid out in a chapter of my 2009 book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.
The Panama Papers: The secrets of dirty money
The rich and powerful have for a very long time used shell companies and secret numbered bank accounts in tax haven countries to not only avoid taxes, but to hide their gains from illegal and immoral activities. Now, thanks to yet another courageous whistleblower, the general public is getting a glimpse into this world of hidden wealth and malfeasance.
The so-called Panama Papers that have recently been disclosed by the media were first delivered by an anonymous whistleblower about a year ago. Since then additional documents have been provided and the trove of data now consists of 11.5 million documents that total 2.6 terabytes of digital files. This leak is said to be a bigger bombshell than even Edward Snowden’s revelations of U.S. government’s spying on citizens and allies.
It will take a long time to sift through all that material but a few startling revelations have recently been made. I have to wonder though, why it has taken so long for any of the contents to be reported in the mainstream media, and why the initial focus has been on Russia, Iceland, and FIFA? Why have we not heard about names of any Americans turning up in these documents? Surely we have more than our share of crooks in the USA, the greatest of all tax havens. MSNBC has something to say about that, which you might want to read. I wonder, might something in these documents have implications for the 2016 Presidential election? Hey, you journalists, let’s get cracking on that.
If you wish to dig deeper into this matter, a good place to start is on the website of Süddeutsche Zeitung, http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/en/.
Geopolitics—Why was Qaddafi murdered?
The US-NATO attacks on Libya and the overthrow of its government is by now old news, but very few people are aware of the real reasons behind the intervention. Ellen Brown, in a recent article, Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary’s Email, has done a good job of exposing the real agenda in Libya, and to the rest of the world for that matter. She concludes, “violent intervention was not chiefly about the security of the people. It was about the security of global banking, money and oil.” The fact is that anyone who is perceived to be a threat to the dominance of the global money and banking regime will be ridiculed, discredited, or eliminated.
Living in Community
As I grow old(er) I’m feeling the need to be a bit more settled than I’ve been in recent years. Although I’m in pretty good health and still independent, my nomadic lifestyle is becoming more difficult. I’m seeking to connect with others of like mind to invent new ways of aging together and supporting each others’ independence and whatever good work we still hope to accomplish. To that end I recently posted an ad on the Fellowship for Intentional Communities website. Here’s what I said:
We are seeking to organize a group of independent seniors (and maybe a younger or two) who are still actively engaged and working in various ways to make a better world. We don’t like, or cannot afford retirement homes. We think a better way is to cooperate and share in a cooperative household where we can have the privacy we need while working together and providing each other with companionship and support.
The community might be located anywhere but our focus right now is on Tucson and southern Arizona which offers a delightful climate, a relatively low cost of living, and all the amenities that one might desire. Large houses in this area can be leased for quite reasonable rents.
If you have any interest, please let me know at email@example.com.
Spring flowers and fragrant blossoms refresh my spirit, I hope they do the same for you,
Here is a comment I posted in response to an article, Donald Trump and the Ghost of Christopher Lasch: America’s yeoman class revolts, that appears in The American Conservative. –t.h.g.
Yes, there is a yeoman class revolt, but the characterization of the elite as “liberal” is in error. The elite class spans the socio-political spectrum. They have a hidden agenda which they advance by pandering to the sentiments of both social liberals (mainly by Democratic politicians) and social conservatives (mainly by Republican politicians), but both parties have been moving us inexorably toward a “new world order” that is anti-democratic and neo-feudal which concentrates ever more power and wealth in their own hands.
Their primary instrument of control is the global system of money, banking, and finance which they have constructed over a long period of time without any public debate, and with the help of politicians, academic economists, journalists, and others whom they have invited to the table to share the spoils.
Since the debt crisis of 2008, Americans of all classes and ideologies have finally begun to wake up to the facts that the game is rigged against them and that they have been manipulated and exploited by the Wall Street-Washington nexus. The next American revolution will happen when liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Americans of all religions and races, stop being seduced by “hot-button” rhetoric and come to realize what their common interests are and are able to work in harmony toward the common good
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.
It has been said that “all TV is entertainment.” Whether a program is labeled “news” or a “candidates’ debate,” that characterization still applies. Well, the current Presidential campaign has sure been entertaining, with Donald Trump’s bombast and Bernie Sanders’ grandfatherly populism, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s bland appeal to feminism and her (dubious) record of achievement.
Hillary is clearly the favorite of the establishment, the darling of Goldman Sachs and big corporate business, and the standard bearer for the status quo and continuation of Obama’s policies.
On the Republican side, it seems that no establishment candidate has so far been able to derail the Trump march toward the nomination. The last best hope for them at this point seems to be Ted Cruz. While Cruz has been trying to portray himself as being against the big banks, the fact is that his wife, Heidi, is an investment banker and a longtime employee of Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, his 2012 Senate campaign was financed in part by a sizeable loan from Goldman Sachs. For the details on all of this see John Cassidy’s New Yorker article at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/ted-cruzs-goldman-sachs-problem.
Despite the evident philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats and the outdated characterization of political sentiments as being either right or left, conservative or liberal, the phenomenon of massive popular support for the two apparent anti-establishment candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sander, reflects a deeper concern that is shared amongst their supporters.
They are sick and tired of politics as usual and the course this country has been on for the past three decades.
They are sick and tired of:
- Politicians who promise one thing but deliver another.
- “Political correctness” that interferes with our ability to debate the deeper issues and concerns.
- The rich getting richer and ever more powerful while the middle class is being destroyed.
- Big banks that are “too big to fail” yet refuse to provide adequate financing to small local businesses.
- Legislation that favors big corporations over small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Fiscal policies that reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while forcing states and municipal governments to assume ever greater burdens.
- Trade agreements that cede power from sovereign governments to transnational corporations thus undermining democratic government, the rights of labor, and environmental protections.
- A disastrous foreign policy of interference in countries around the world that kills thousands of innocent people and stirs up hornet’s nests of resentment that manifest as massive displacements of people and acts of terror against the U.S. and its European NATO allies.
Can either Trump or Sanders, or anyone else for that matter, remedy any of those concerns from the White House? Given the present political structures and dynamics of power based on the control of money, that seems very unlikely. Reversing the destructive anti-democratic trends will take a massive popular movement, one that makes clear to people what their common interests are, and is able to get them to work in harmony toward common goals.
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Students of economics are taught that money has three main functions, a unit of account, a store of value and a medium of exchange. On closer examination we find that these three sit uneasily together. For example, a store of value should increase in value over time, while a medium of exchange works best when the value is decreasing. All the while the unit of account should stay the same value!
In history we find many examples of these function being performed by separate instruments. For example the medieval bankers Ecu de Marc was purely a unit of account. Precious metals, land, shares can all be used to store value, while wampum beads, LETS, self-issued credit, and stamp scrip worked well as systems of exchange. With such a rich history to draw on, it is bizarre that anybody could think one instrument should do it all.
In the discourse around money we see different interests claiming that money is different things.
Gold is money
Money is and always has been, a creature of the state
Money should be a medium of exchange and nothing else
it has become apparent to me after some time was that these contrary positions do not result from different people's impartial analyses reaching different conclusions. Views on money are very tied to our world view.
For rich people, money is the very thing that distinguishes them from paupers. Having money means not having to work because the money works for them 24/7 through its store of value / investment functions. Most of the money they have is never intended to be exchanged for anything.
But for poor people, money is what they use to buy bread. They struggle to exchange work for essentials, usually because the medium of exchange is scarce. The store of value function holds no interest for them because they have no value to store.
It is not that one view of money is 'right'. But that different views serve different interests. I notice these two main monetary discourses map onto class interests.
The monied classes prefer to view money as a commodity because as they desire commodities which can easily be put to work, and money is mobile, liquid and has special protection in law. The working classes are more concerned with money that circulates, because they depend on its good circulation for employment and for the essentials of life.
These rules will manifest themselves in different policies in different contexts. For example in Britain at the moment the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn advocates People's Quantitive easing, a policy to increase the amount of money in circulation; the Conservative party prefers austerity, which makes money scarce to the point of deflation - deflation of course increases the purchasing power of money.
But in the late 19th Century USA, the same dichotomy can be seen but within a metals paradigm. William Jennings Bryan was leading the charge to monetise silver in addition to gold, thus increasing the depressed money supply in the interests of the farmers. Meanwhile McKinley won the election on the basis of keeping to the gold standard which restricts the amount of money which can be created.
There is absolutely no need for these two class interests to be opposed, at least not monetarily speaking. There is no reason that the quantity of medium of exchange should be identical to the quantity of bank lending.
Here is my comment on a recent article titled Krugman’s Craziness that appeared in the New York Sun. –t.h.g.
Very few people today, including prize-winning economists, possess a deep knowledge of the fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange, and most of those who do are committed to maintaining the global interest-based, debt-money regime that enables an elite few to control economies and governments worldwide.
In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and the ongoing economic crisis, more and more people are waking up to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with our systems of money, banking, and finance, but remain mystified by it and have no idea what to do about it.
Many are calling for reform of the system via the political process, and most reformers want a return to the gold standard and favor a government monopoly over the issuance of money. Clearly, new legislation is needed to reverse the trend toward ever greater centralization of power and concentration of wealth, but such measures have no hope of passing into law so long as the “money power” is able to buy politicians wholesale. Further, since money is a human contrivance that is supposed to facilitate the exchange of value (like goods, services, and various financial claims), people should be free to use whatever payment media they find mutually agreeable. Rather than monopoly of money, either bank-controlled or government-controlled, we need competition in currency. Let us have more freedom, not less.
There are solid precedents that prove the effectiveness of private and community currencies, as well as direct clearing of credits among buyers and sellers, a process that has the potential to make money as we’ve known it obsolete. Private initiative is presently bringing to market new and creative mechanisms of exchange and finance that have the power to bring about economic and financial stability, social harmony and a dignified life for all.
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Bernie has it right in trying to curb the enormous power of the banking establishment. As I’ve said many times, “Whoever controls the creation of money and the allocation of credit controls everything.” Bernie doesn’t go quite far enough but what he proposes is a good start. A recent article, Curbing the Influence of Big Banks: 3 Reforms proposed by Sanders, by Deena Zaidi outlines the Sanders plan:
- Break up the big banks so that no bank is “too big to fail.”
- Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act which for decades prevented “investment banks” from combining with “commercial banks.”
- Reducing conflicts of interest at the Fed.
Read the full article here.
My understanding of money came initially through LETS and the beautiful, simple mechanism of mutual credit. Working from the principle of balance, mutual credit accounting begins and ends with no debts and no money. Money is just an imaginary intermediary that keeps account between all the members of society, enabling them to 'split the barter', giving and receiving with different people at different times, but always in balance.
It is tempting to view all money in those terms. From a mutual credit perspective, issuance is defined as an account going below zero, spending more than it earns. In the case of a backed currency, the negative balance is offset by a commodity in a vault. In the case of a fiat currency, there is no intention to return to zero. Both variations test the rules and intentions of a system, taking it away from a pure exchange function. In this and other ways, mutual credit gives us a lense to help us understand money systems, especially with social justice in mind.
But in reality the money system is fundamentally not about reciprocation, or just keeping account, and the LETS lense has blinded me to this all this time. I thought that money had been mistakenly commodified and bastardised by interest to become something very far from its true essence as a medium of exchange, but my recent reading has revealed otherwise.
It seems to me now that credit creation takes place on a scale. At one end is the short term, low risk, small quantity and often local credit. At the other end is the long term, higher risk, and higher quantity credit, perhaps needed for international trade. Along the scale are different kinds of contracts and instruments, such as the LETS, the IOU, the overdraft, the mortgage, shares, and bonds. It is the credit at the big end of the scale that has always shaped and moved the economy. These 'harder' credit arrangements carry with them political power, the promises of riches through investment and often interest. The people engaging in these activities are not interested in exchange but in gain. In the days when the Rothschild bank lend money to the king, the object was Rothschild's commercial gain and the king's military triumph, no money creation took place. It was the original Bank of England which doubled up such loans, such that the king's IOU entered circulation for use as money, often never to return. The king nor anybody was the slightest bit concerned about the total quantity of money in circulation. At that time there were many other private bank notes and bills of exchange and other private instruments, not to mention hyper-local currencies for the tradesfolk. At that time, a recession was when all the silver had left the country and the nobles couldn't pay for luxury goods.
Now we don't have all those options, we have what Bernard Lietaer calls a monoculture of legal tender money. The quantity is determined as ever it by the big ticket credit items outstanding. Its not about how much the government borrows because all of our borrowing is legal tender through the banking system. Today's money supply depends not on monetary policy, but on how much banks feel like lending.
Now when there is a shortage money the tradesfolk are starving because they know no alternatives to legal tender. But history shows that they could utilise credit at the small end of the spectrum to create perfectly adequate exchange media which keeps the wheels turning even if it is hard to get rich from.
In the Irish bank crisis the country survived several months without money by circulating cheques many of which were approved by pub landlords. In Argentina's dollar crisis 2002 the economy switched over to a system of barter networks.
So what I've learned confirms (naturally) what I already suspected. Its no use begging the government to issue more money because we need money. Tradesfolk's needs do not factor into the thinking of a government with centuries of debt to manage. But what we absolutely can do, if only we knew how to organise, is create alternatives to legal tender, which is why, as the economy is dragged under the quicksand, perhaps never to resurface, we should pay ever more attention to LETS.