Komentator Financial Timesa Martin Wolf se je v zadnji kolumni dotaknil reforme monetarnega sistema. V njej zagovarja idejo, da je treba bankam prepovedati ustvarjanje denarja, da naj se banke omeji na posojanje predhodno ustvarjenega denarja in da naj za ves novoustvarjeni denar skrbi država. Ta predlog, ki se mu drugače reče tudi 100% rezervna zahteva, je v 30-ih letih prejšnjega stoletja skupaj z drugimi ekonomisti podpiral Irving Fisher (Čikaški načrt, 1933 in Program za monetarno reformo, 1939) kot reformni odgovor na Veliko depresijo in na delovanje finančnega sistema. Določene reformne predloge iz teh dokumentov so uzakonili, vendar 100% rezervna zahteva nikoli ni ugledala luči sveta. Danes uvedbo le-te zagovarjajo predvsem skupina Positive Money iz Velike Britanije, American Monetary Institute in ZDA in prof. Joseph Huber iz Nemčije. Prav tako sta ji naklonjena Michael Kumhof in Jaromir Benes iz Mednarodnega denarnega sklada.
»Printing counterfeit banknotes is illegal, but creating private money is not. The interdependence between the state and the businesses that can do this is the source of much of the instability of our economies. It could – and should – be terminated. …
A maximum response would be to give the state a monopoly on money creation … First, the state, not banks, would create all transactions money, just as it creates cash today. Customers would own the money in transaction accounts, and would pay the banks a fee for managing them.
Second, banks could offer investment accounts, which would provide loans. But they could only loan money actually invested by customers. They would be stopped from creating such accounts out of thin air and so would become the intermediaries that many wrongly believe they now are.
Third, the central bank would create new money as needed to promote non-inflationary growth. Decisions on money creation would, as now, be taken by a committee independent of government.«
Priznam, da sem bil dve leti nazaj, ko sem pisal svojo knjigo, precej naklonjen tem predlogom. V zaključku sem poudaril, da se mi zdi taka reforma najbolj smiselna in pravična. Vendar sem od takrat v luči novih informacij in pogledov spremenil mnenje. Prvič, taka reforma je težko izvedljiva, deloma zaradi precejšnje moči finančnega sektorja, deloma zaradi prevelike zapletenosti (nova zakonodaja …). Drugič, težko si je predstavljati, da bi bil državni komite res neodvisen in da bi znal določati točno količino denarja v obtoku. Kot tretje, izdajanje lastnih obljub plačila je legitimno (če bi bankam prepovedali izdajanje le-teh, bi morali prepovedati tudi lokalne valute). In končno, vprašanje, če tak obrat res potrebujemo – verjetno bi se dalo podobne (pozitivne) učinke doseči s spremembami obstoječega sistema.
Wolfova kolumna je naletela na precejšen odziv. Ann Pettifor, direktorica inštituta Policy Research in Economics, se s predlogom ne strinja, saj bi po njenem preveč omejil ekonomsko aktivnost. Državni komite, pravi, nikoli ne bi mogel biti resnično neodvisen. Prav tako meni, da bi se vrnili nazaj v srednji vek, ko investicij niso financirali s krediti, temveč s prihranki (mimogrede: kredit so takrat seveda poznali že stoletja, vendar so z njim financirali predvsem trgovsko poslovanje). Posojila so bila draga, trpela je tudi zaposlenost. Pettifor:
»While Wolf has helped bring the role of private bankers in “printing” most of the money in circulation to public attention, the proposal he advances is deeply flawed. It is not very different from the monetarist or neoclassical understanding of money, as based on a commodity. As such his proposal, like the Chicago Plan, would contract and restrict economic activity – to the level of existing savings. … To understand why the plan is flawed, one has to first understand that credit is nothing more than a promise to repay, as Schumpeter once argued. Furthermore, the issuance of credit results in deposits, or bank money, as Wolf argues.
Unlike commodity money, which is of necessity scarce, credit is able to facilitate society’s myriad transactions, and to satisfy our varied needs. The issuance of credit enables society to do what we can do. And that is why it is a very good thing. Before the establishment of a banking system, society could only embark on ventures that could be financed by “savings” – inevitably the surpluses built up, stolen or appropriated by the already wealthy. Because savings were scarce, they would be lent out at high rates of interest – inhibiting investment, and above all employment.«
Z Wolfom se prav tako ne strinja Paul Krugman, ki meni da je Wolfovo vztrajanje na problematičnih bančnih depozitih ozkogledo in da v zadnji krizi ni šlo za naval na običajne depozite, temveč za naval na bančni sistem v senci. Če bi s 100% zahtevo omejili običajno bančno aktivnost, bi se po njegovem mnenju velik del dejavnosti premaknil v senco. Prav tako, pravi, je poglavitni problem v prevelikem vzvodu, ki ga 100% zahteva ne bi odpravila:
»OK, a genuinely interesting debate on financial reform is taking place. I’m not even sure where I stand. But it’s certainly worth talking about. … Wolf, unless I’m reading him wrong, seems to identify the whole issue with one particular form of short-term debt — bank deposits. This seems an oddly narrow view given the nature of the 2008 crisis, which involved very few runs on deposits but a massive run on shadow banking, especially repo — overnight lending that in a fundamental sense fulfilled the functions of deposit banking but also created the same kind of risks. …
Wolf’s omission is a big one. If we impose 100% reserve requirements on depository institutions, but stop there, we’ll just drive even more finance into shadow banking, and make the system even riskier.
… the quick return to normality in financial markets (achieved, to be sure, through bailouts and guarantees) did not produce a quick recovery in the real economy; on the contrary, we’re still depressed and many advanced countries are now on the edge of deflation, more than five years later. This strongly suggests that while bank runs may have brought things to a head, the problems ran deeper; in particular, I’m strongly of the view (based in part on Mian and Sufi’s work) that broader issues of excess leverage, and the resulting balance-sheet problems of many households, are key. And neither 100% reserves nor a repo tax would have addressed that kind of leverage.«
Na najbolj temeljit način pa Wolfu odgovarja predstavnik sodobne monetarne teorije (MMT) Warren Mosler, ki v zapisu na svojem blogu komentira vsak paragraf posebej. Mosler je mnenja, da je ustvarjanje zasebnih obveznosti (oz. obljub plačila) povsem legitimno dejanje, da bi taka reforma omenila posojanje in agregatno povpraševanje in da današnji sistem že v veliki meri funkcionira tako, kot predlaga Wolf.
‘Yet the public views the banks’ imitation money as electronic cash: a safe source of purchasing power. ‘
– OK, so?
‘Banking is therefore not a normal market activity, because it provides two linked public goods: money and the payments network.’
– This is highly confused. ‘Public goods’ in any case aren’t ‘normal market activity’. Nor is a ‘payments network’ per se ‘normal market activity’ unless it’s a matter of competing payments networks, etc. And all assets can and do ‘provide’ liabilities.
‘Here is the outline of the latter system.
First, the state, not banks, would create all transactions money, just as it creates cash today.’
– Today, state spending is a matter of the CB crediting a member bank reserve account, generally for further credit to the person getting the corresponding bank deposit. The member bank has an asset, the funds credited by the CB in its reserve account, and a liability, the deposit of the person who ultimately got the funds.
If the bank depositor wants cash, his bank gets the cash from the CB, and the CB debits the bank’s reserve account. So the person who got paid holds the cash and his bank has no deposit at the CB and the person has no bank deposit.
So in this case the entire ‘money supply’ would consist of dollars spent by the govt. But not yet taxed. That’s called the deficit/national debt. That is, the govt’s deficit would = the (net) ‘money supply’ of the economy, which is exactly the way it is today.
‘Customers would own the money in transaction accounts,’
– They already do.
‘and would pay the banks a fee for managing them.’
‘Second, banks could offer investment accounts, which would provide loans. But they could only loan money actually invested by customers.’
– So anyone who got paid by govt (directly or indirectly) could invest in an account so those same funds could be lent to someone else. Again, by design, this is to limit lending. And with ‘loanable funds’ limited in this way, the interest rate would reflect supply and demand for borrowing those funds, much like and fixed exchange rate regime.
So imagine a car company with a dip in sales and a bit of extra unsold inventory, that has to borrow to finance that inventory. It has to compete with the rest of the economy to borrow a limited amount of available funds (limited by the ‘national debt’). In a general slowdown it means rates will skyrocket to the point where companies are indifferent between paying the going interest rate and/or immediately liquidating inventory. This is called a fixed fx deflationary collapse.
So 100% rezerve torej prava rešitev problema neodgovornega posojanja, napihovanja balonov in kriz? Dvomim. Precej bi lahko naredili na druge načine, nenazadnje z vztrajanjem na osebni odgovornosti odgovornih in vodilnih v finančnih institucijah, ki se danes ponavadi po propadu institucij prosto gibljejo na prostosti z zajetnimi odpravninami in bonusi v žepih.