Monday, March 12, 2012

417 Central Bank "printing money". Henry Ford and Thomas Edison: "If our nation can issue a $ bond, it can issue a $ bill"

Central Bank "printing money". Henry Ford and Thomas Edison: "If our nation can issue a $ bond, it can issue a $ bill"

(1) Central Bank "printing money" - are we talking about actual paper dollar bills?
(2) Ellen Brown on video talking about Bonds, Fed Notes & Colonial script - from her book Web of Debt
(3) The Protocols of Zion on government debt
(4) Henry Ford and Thomas Edison: "If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill"
(5) Stephen Zarlenga's solution - American Monetary Institute (AMI)
(6) Ellen Brown changes course

(1) Central Bank "printing money" - are we talking about actual paper dollar bills?

From: Eric Walberg <> Date: 04.12.2010 02:54 AM Subject: Re: qe2

In all this high flown talk, i'm a bit confused. when we talk of the government/ central bank "printing money" are we talking about actual paper dollar bills?

Wikipedia: QE increases the supply of money by creating money which is then used for increasing the excess reserves of the banking system, generally through buying of the central government's own bonds to stabilize or raise their prices and thereby lower their yield.

My impression from the wiki entries about money supply is that the only way the FR can 'create' money is to actually print the dollar bills (out of thin air), which then become (fractional) reserves of banks leading to the multiplier debt-based increase in the money supply. but this seems far-fetched.

There are rules about the govt borrowing to cover its debt. and surely even the FR can't just create money without putting something on its ledgers. When the federal reserve just lent euro banks $2 trillion (whatever), did it just create these trillions out of thin air? Or was it using some slight of hand, perhaps using its accumulated profits/ 'capital'? did it put a plus $2t on one side of the ledger and a minus$2t on the other side (but what does this minus mean?)

Hope you have a clear understanding of this. perhaps your other readers will find this discussion useful.

Thanks, Eric

Reply (Peter Myers, December 5, 2010):

"Print money" means EITHER issue paper dollars EX NIHILO, or credit bank accounts (by computer), once again EX NIHILO.

Whenever the Central Bank "prints money", it's buying some asset, eg Treasury Bonds. It exchanges the asset for newly-created money, ie for a Credit entry in the seller's account at the Federal Bank.

The Fed buys $ notes from the mint, which is part of Treasury, but it only pays a few cents each for them as bits of paper. When it makes payments with them, on the other hand, they have face value ($1, $50 etc).

This magic is called Seigneurage.

In the same way, a church obtains ordinary tap water, but when a priest blesses it, it becomes Holy Water, which people cross themselves with, & sprinkle around their homes.

Treasury produces the $ notes, but can't use them as money. It sells each to the Fed for the cost of production, then buys them back at face value, paying for them with Treasury Bonds (Government Bonds). These are IOUs; Treasury has to pay interest on them - interest that it gets from taxpayers.

In recent decades, the Fed has refunded the interest paid by Treasury, after deducting its expenses. Those expenses include the salaries of the Fed bankers; no-one knows if they pay themselves huge salaries or bonuses, because the Fed is not audited. Given that the Fed itself is owned by private banks and/or shareholders, it's possible that these "expenses" include dividend payments to them; no-one knows.

Even though the Fed remits most of the interest Treasury pays on its debt, the principal remains; Treasury never pays it, but just rolls it over. When Treasury borrows from the private sector, as commonly happens when the Government runs persistent budget deficits, it pays both the principal and the interest.

There are two kinds of money:
- Central Bank money, also known as Base money or High Powered Money (HPM), M0 (M zero)
It's composed of currency (notes & coins) plus balances (reserves) at the Central Bank
- and money used by the public in their bank accounts (Checkbook money, Transaction money).

They can be called HPM and Transaction money. The Central Bank creates the former; private banks create the latter.

Dr H. C. Coombs, Governor of Australia's Central Bank, wrote, "when money is lent by a bank it passes into the hands of the person who borrows it without anybody having less. Whenever a bank lends money there is therefore, an increase in the total amount of money available." (Other People's Money, p. 10).

When a Building Society loans money, on the other hand, there is no such increase; no new money is created.

Here are the Double-Entry accounting entries when a private Bank F issues a loan of $L to Mrs Y. In each case, Assets and Liabilities balance:

For Mrs Y:
(asset) Her balance at Bank F increases by $L.
(liability) Her debt to Bank F increases by $L (she must pay interest too).

For Bank F:
(asset) Assets increase by $L, being the principal Mrs Y must repay (she must pay interest too).
(liability) Liabilities increase by $L, being the amount deposited into Mrs Y's account.  She will use the money to pay someone else, who will deposit it at his bank.

When a Central Bank creates money, it's accounted as a liability of the Central Bank. In the days of the Gold or Silver Standards, for a paper dollar issued by the Bank, one could demand payment in gold or silver.

But with a fiat currency, the Bank need only give you another paper dollar. So its liability is fictional.

This is what "Clearing a Cheque (check)" means:

When Mr P deposits a cheque made out to him by Mrs Y, his balance rises and hers falls. But that's not all; a transaction also occurs between Mr P's bank and Mrs Y's bank.

All private banks themselves bank at the Central Bank: each has an account there, not of ordinary money but of Central Bank money (HPM) - which constitutes the bank's reserves. The balance (reserves) of Mr P's bank at the Central Bank also rise by the amount of the cheque, and the reserves of Mrs Y's bank fall by the same amount.

If the cheque is from the Federal Government (ie Treasury) to Mrs L, it's drawn on the Central Bank. If Mrs L cashes it at her bank, she receives notes, while her bank's balance at the Central Bank rises by the amount of the cheque.

Treasury itself has an account at the Central Bank, which is debited when its cheques are deposited by recipients, and credited when taxes are paid. Its account can have a negative balance, such as when it runs persistent budget deficits.

When the Central Bank "prints money" to bail out Bank F by buying Toxic Assets from it for $T:

It credits Bank F's balance at the Central Bank by $T.
The Central Bank owns the Toxic Assets, which it values at $T (face value, not market value).

Double-Entry accounting entries would be:

for bank F:
Assets increase by $T (being the funds received from the Central Bank).
Liabilities increease by $T (being the debt thereby incurred - this money will be repaid, if the bank survives)

for the Central Bank:
Assets increase by $T (being the face value of the Toxic Assets; this will exceed the market value).
Liabilities increase by $T (because money issued is treated as a liability).

If the ECB were to bail out the Governments of Greece, Spain etc, it would "print money" by buying their Treasury Bonds for $B.

Before they joined the EU, each of these governments had its own central bank; each could have bailed its own government out. Now, Greece, Spain etc are akin to the states of the United States, reliant on the ECB. So the treasuries of Greece, Spain etc are now like the state treasuries of Ohio and Texas.

Double-Entry accounting entries for an ECB bailout would be:

for the state treasury of Greece, Spain etc:
(asset) treasury's balance at the ECB increases by $B.
(liability) treasury's debt increases by $B

for the ECB:
(asset) The Fed has the bonds - its assets increase by $B.
(liability) The Fed's liabilities increase by $B (it treats the extra money it put into circulation as a liability).

(2) Ellen Brown on video talking about Bonds, Fed Notes & Colonial script - from her book Web of Debt

Watch this video; although only about 10 minutes, it cuts to the heart of the matter:

Part 2:

{transcript - by Peter Myers} The Government prints Pink pieces of paper called Bonds, and it trades them for Green pieces of paper called Federal Reserve Notes.

Now we taxpayers are on the hock for the face amount of the Bonds, in this case $100, but the Fed gets the Green pieces of paper for the cost of printing them - I think it's up to 6 centa a bill now. So they're getting what's called the Seigniorage, or the benefit of creating this money, not the Government.

So that raises the natural question: why doesn't the Government just print the Green pieces of paper, and skip the Pink pieces of paper? Either way, it's inflationary; either way, you're adding to the money supply ... why not skip the debt and just put it out there into the money supply?

The answer is that at one time we did. In fact, for the first hundred years of our existence, before we were actually a nation, the American colonists came up with this brilliant idea, ... where they didn't have money, they didn't have Gold, and the Governor of Massachessuts had to fight a war, and he didn't have any money to fight it with, so he decided he'd just issue these little paper receipts, and he paid the soldiers and all the other people that he owed money to, and he said, you know, "This is legal tender, go spend it in the community."

And that became their money supply, and it worked really well. It worked better for some colonies than others, because it was all experimental and they diden't, you know, they just started out with this idea. In the northern colonies they tended to just issue money and innue money. They were supposed to tax the people to bring it back, to avoid inflation, but they weren't very good about taxes, so mostly they were just issuing money, and they hyperiflated their money supply.

But in Pennsylvania they had the ideal system, where instead of just printing and spending, and printing and spending, they LENT most of the money. They had a bank, the Pennsylvania Provincial Government owned its own bank, and it lent money to the farmers ... at 5% interest, and the British bankers were lending at 8% interest, so this was a good deal for the farmers. And the money WENT BACK to the Provincial Government, so it was a completely closed system.

And then to avoid the Usury problem where you are always taking back more money than you put out, they printed some extra money for their expenses: roads, bridges, whatever it was they needed in the Government.

So, for example, if you started with $105, you could lend $100 at 5% interest, then spend an additional $5 into the community, then you'd have $105 circulating in the community. That $105 would all come back to the Government as Principal and Interest, and then you could lend the very same $100 again, to someone else, spend the same $5 into the community, and $105 would come back. So you would never have to inflate your money supply ...

{end} More at

(3) The Protocols of Zion on government debt

The Protocols acknowledges that government debt is a trap; that governments need not borrow funds for their expenditure on goods & services available in the local currency, but can create the money by fiat, as the banks do (but for which the banks charge interest, in effect a private tax).

This was the way the finance system of the USSR operated. When taxes were insufficient for government expenditure, Gosbank (the state bank) issued fiat money to make up the difference:

Protocol 20 says:

Every kind of loan proves infirmity in the State and a want of  understanding of the rights of the State. Loans hang like a sword of Damocles  over the heads of rulers, who, instead of taking from their subjects by a  temporary tax, come begging with outstretched palm of our bankers.  Foreign loans are leeches which there is no possibility of removing from the body  of the State until they fall off themselves or the State flings them off. But the  goy States do not tear them off: they go on in persisting in putting more on to  themselves so that they must inevitably perish, drained by voluntary  blood-letting.

What also indeed is, in substance, a loan, especially a foreign loan? A loan is - an  issue of government bills of exchange containing a percentage obligation  commensurate to the sum of the loan capital. If the loan bears a charge of 5 per  cent., then in twenty years the State vainly pays away in interest a sum equal to  the loan borrowed, in forty years it is paying a double sum, in sixty - treble, and  all the while the debt remains an unpaid debt.

From this calculation it is obvious that with any form of taxation per head  the State is bailing out the last coppers of the poor taxpayers in order to  settle accounts with wealthy foreigners, from whom it has borrowed  money instead of collecting these coppers for its own needs without the  additional interest.

So long as loans were internal the goyim only shuffled money from the pockets  of the poor to those of the rich, but when we bought up the necessary person in  order to transfer loans into the external sphere all the wealth of States  flowed into our cash-boxes and all the goyim began to pay us the tribute of  subjects.

In other words, the interest on loans must be paid by the taxpayers. Governments could avoid that interest burden by issuing the money themselves; after all, the banks themselves create it ex nihilo.

Loans denominated in foreign currency should be avoided at all cost.

(4) Henry Ford and Thomas Edison: "If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill"

Thomas Edison on Government Created Debt-Free Money

This article appeared in Prosperity, September 2000

In December 1921, the American industrialist Henry Ford and the inventor Thomas Edison visited the Muscle Shoals nitrate and water power projects near Florence, Alabama. They used the opportunity to articulate at length upon their alternative money theories, which were published in 2 reports which appeared in The New York Times on December 4, 1921 and December 6, 1921.

Objecting to the fact that the Government planned, as usual, to raise the money by issuing bonds which would be bought by the banking and non-banking sector  —  which would then have to be paid back with money raised from taxes, and with interest added  —  they proposed instead that the Government simply create the currency it required and spend it into society through this public project.

This is also the Prosperity proposal.

Thomas Edison made it plain in the following excerpt from The New York Times, December 6, 1921 issue ("Ford Sees Wealth In Muscle Shoals").

FORD SEES WEALTH IN MUSCLE SHOALS; Says Development Will Bring Great Prosperity to That Section of the South. EDISON BACKS HIM UP He Will Urge Congress to Lease It to Ford as the Logical Man to Carry Out Great Project. SUPPORTS CURRENCY PLAN Old Way, He Asserts, Compels Us to Add to the Public Debt to Increase the National Wealth.

Special to The New York Times. ();

December 06, 1921,

, Section , Page 6, Column , words


FLORENCE, Ala., Dec. 5.--Henry Ford left for Detroit today, convinced that if Congress will complete and lease to him the water-power Developments started by the Government at Muscle Shoals, on the Tennessee River, during ... ==

You can download the article as a pdf file:

== The article is called "Ford Sees Wealth In Muscle Shoals" .

Some of the text is at
and at

Here is most of the text (with some errors corrected) :

Says Development Will Bring Great Prosperity to That Section of the South
He will Urge Congress to Lease It to Ford as the Logical Man to Carry Out Great Project.
Old Way, He Asserts, Compels Us to Add to the Public Debt to Increase the National Wealth.

Special to The New York Times

FLORENCE, Ala., Dec. 5 [1921] – Henry Ford left for Detroit today, convinced that if Congress will complete and lease to him the water-power developments started by the Government at Muscle Shoals, on the Tennessee River, during the war, he can make this whole section of the South more prosperous, industrially and agriculturally, than it has ever been before.

As he shook hands with scores of citizens of Florence and Suffield just before his special train pulled out for Detroit, he told them so.

"I have been deeply impressed by the possibilities here," he told C.W. Ashcraft, President of the Florence Chamber of Commerce, a body of 140 men who have been fighting for years to get the Government to develop the property. "The water power that can be developed here will equal or surpass, I believe, any other development in this country to date. There are coal, iron, useful kinds of rocks, minerals and metals right close at hand on every side. The wonder to me is that they have gone so long undeveloped.

"Whether or not we take hold of Muscle Shoals is now up to Congress. We have made our offer – the only constructive bid made for the property. We do not seek to make money out of it. We will have to take a small profit out of it, of course, say 8 percent, but we do not ask the 20 to 30 per cent profit which others would demand. We would like to build here a great and perpetual benefit to the people, always to be owned by them and operated in their service. All I ask of Congress is to give me the opportunity. And I'm going to leave that to you, if you wish me to come down here, to see that Congress does."

His remarks were loudly applauded.

Thomas A. Edison indorsed Mr. Ford's views. Not only does he believe that the great power plant should be completed and that Ford should be the man to get the operating lease, but he is very earnest in his support of Ford's suggestion by which the Government can complete the property and make its operation possible without cost, by issuing currency against the property instead of interest-bearing bonds. ...

Support for Ford's Currency Plan

On the point of Mr. Ford's suggestion to the Government for financing the completion of the dam, Mr. Edison reiterated his belief, expressed yesterday that it was a good plan and that if only the currency method is tried in raising money for public improvements, this country will never go back to the borrowing method.

"Make it perfectly clear that I'm not advocating any changes in banks and banking," said Mr. Edison. "Banks are a mighty good thing. They are essential to the commerce of the country. It is the money broker, the money profiteer, the private banker that I oppose. They gain their power through a fictitious and false value given to gold.

"Gold is a relic of Julius Caesar and interest is an invention of Satan," Mr. Edison continued. "Gold is intrinsically of less utility than most metals. The probable reason why it is retained as the basis of money is that it is easy to control. The probable reason why it is retained as the basis of money is that it is easy to control. And it is the control of money that constitutes the money question. It is the control of money that is the root of all evil."

"How can the system be improved or changed?" Mr. Edison was asked.

"It can come about in several ways. One way would be to produce so much gold that its psychological hold would be broken. If we all had minds in our backyards or a synthetic gold could be made and sold for $.10 a pound you would soon see Gold disappear as the basis for money. ...

"Money ought to be plentiful and gold is not plentiful. It would be plentiful if it were mined in as large quantities as it could be, but an artificial scarcity is maintained by those who use goal to monopolize money.

"That is one way to do it — make it so plentiful that it drowns its fictitious value and drowns the superstition of the people along with it."

Would Forget About Gold

"Then there is another way — the method my friend Ford proposed the other day. He proposes just to go along and forget about gold. He says that the government can finance Muscle Shoals without applying to money brokers for permission, and I think he is absolutely right about it.

"Of course, as long as the world is on the gold basis, we shall have to recognize it as an element in international trade, but it is not necessary for commerce within our own borders. An internal business we can forget it. And we do forget it. If everybody in the United States suddenly demanded goal for their money, they would not be enough gold.

"Gold and money are separate things, you see. Gold is the trick mechanism by which you can control money.

"Gold is not money until the people of the United States and other nations put their stamp on it. It is not the gold that makes the dollar. It is the dollar that makes the gold. Take the dollar out of the gold, and leave it merely yellow metal, and it sinks in value. Gold is established by law, just as silver was, and gold could be disestablished, demonetized by law, just as silver was. When silver was demonetized the former so-called dollar became worth about $.50."

"But would not Mr. Ford's suggestion that Muscle Shoals be financed by a currency issue raised some objection?" Mr. Edison was asked.

"Certainly. There is a complete set of misleading slogans kept on hand for just such outbreaks of common sense among the people. The people are so ignorant of what they think are the intricacies of the money system that they are easily impressed by big words. There would be new shrieks of 'fiat money', and 'paper money' and 'green backism,' and all the rest of it – the same old cries with which the people have been shouted down from the beginning."

"But maybe we have passed beyond the time when the thoughtful 2 per cent – you know, I gather from my questionaire that only 2 per cent of the people think," and Mr. Edison smiled broadly.

"Maybe they can't shout down American thinkers any longer. The only dynamite that works in this country is the dynamite of a sound idea. I think we are getting a sound idea on the money question. The people have an instinct which tells them that something is wrong, and that the wrong somehow centers in money. They have an instinct also, which tells them when a proposal is made in their interests or against them."

Based on Soil and Energy

"Now, as to paper money, so called everyone knows that paper money is the money of civilized people. The higher you go in the civilization the less actual money you see. It is all bills and checks. What are bills and checks? Mere promises and orders. What are they based on? Principally on two sources — human energy and the productive earth. Humanity and the soil — they are the only real basis of money.

"Don't allow them to confuse you with the cry of 'paper money.' The danger of paper money is precisely the danger of Gold — if you get too much it is no good. They say we of all the gold of the world now. Well, what good does it do us? When America gets all the chips in a game the game stops. We would be better off if we had less gold. Indeed, we are trying to get rid of our goal to start something going. But the trade machine is at present jam. Too much paper money operates the same way. There is just one rule for money, and that is, to have enough to carry all the legitimate trade that is waiting to move. Too little or too much are both bad. But enough to move trade, enough to prevent stagnation on the one hand and not enough to permit speculation on the other hand, is the proper ratio."

"Then you see no difference between currency and government bonds?" Mr. Edison was asked.

"Yes there is a difference. But it is neither the likeness nor the difference that will determine the matter; the attack will be directed against thinking of bonds and currency together and comparing them. If people ever get to thinking of bonds and bills at the same time, the game is up.

"Now here is Ford proposing to finance Muscle Shoals by an issue of currency. Very well, let us suppose for a moment that Congress follows his proposal. Personally, I don't think Congress has imagination enough to do it, but let us suppose that it does. The required sum is authorized -- say $30,000,000. The bills are issued directly by the Government, as all money ought to be. When the workmen are paid off they receive these United States bills. When the material is bought it is paid in these United States bills. Except that perhaps the bills may have the engraving of a water dam, insted of a railroad train and a ship, as some of the Federal Reserve notes have. They will be the same as any other currency put out by the Government; that is, they will be money. They will be based on the public wealth already in Muscle Shoals, and their circulation will increase that public wealth, not only the public money but the public wealth -- real wealth.

"When these bills have answered the purpose of building and completing Muscle Shoals, they will be retired by the earnings of the power dam. That is, the people of the United States will have all that they put into Muscle Shoals and all that they can take out for centuries -- the endless wealth-making water power of that great Tennessee River -- with no tax and no increase of the national debt."

" But suppose Congress does not see this, what then ?" Mr. Edison was asked.

"Well, Congress must fall back on the old way of doing business. It must authorize an issue of bonds. That is, it must go out to the money brokers and borrow enough of our own national currency to complete great national resources, and we then must pay interest to money brokers for the use of our money.

Old Way Adds to Public Debt

"That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

"Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000  —  that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

"But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20 per cent, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute to Muscle Shoals in some useful way.

"If the Government issues bonds, it simply induces the money brokers to draw $30,000,000 out of the other channels of trade and turn it into Muscle Shoals; if the Government issues currency, it provides itself with enough money to increase the national wealth at Muscle Shoals without disturbing the business of the rest of the country. And in doing this it increases its income without adding a penny to its debt.

"It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. If the currency issued by the Government were no good, then the bonds issued would be no good either. It is a terrible situation when the Government, to increase the national wealth, must go into debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious values of gold.

"Look at it another way. If the Government issues bonds, the brokers will sell them. The bonds will be negotiable; they will be considered as gilt edged paper. Why? Because the government is behind them, but who is behind the Government? The people. Therefore it is the people who constitute the basis of Government credit. Why then cannot the people have the benefit of their own gilt-edged credit by receiving non-interest bearing currency on Muscle Shoals, instead of the bankers receiving the benefit of the people's credit in interest-bearing bonds?"

Says People Must Pay Anyway.

"The people must pay any way; why should they be compelled to pay twice, as the bond system compels them to pay?  The people of the United States always accept their Government's currency. If the United States Government will adopt this policy of increasing its national wealth without contributing to the interest collector – for the whole national debt is made up of interest charges – then you will see an era of progress and prosperity in this country such as could never have come otherwise."

" Are you going to have anything to do with outlining this proposed policy ?" Mr. Edison was asked.

" I am just expressing my opinion as a citizen," he replied. "Ford's idea is flawless. They won't like it. They will fight it, but the people of this country ought to take it up and think about it. I believe it points the way to many reforms and achievements which cannot come under the old system." ...

(5) Stephen Zarlenga's solution - American Monetary Institute (AMI)

The Fed should be nationalized, made a branch of Treasury. Treasury, via the Fed, should issue all the Government's money, as $ bills not $ bonds. The Federal Government's debt would be paid off.

Private banks should be prevented from creating new money, but allowed to lend out their depositors' funds - as Building Societies do now.

Michael Hudson and Steve Keen made presentations at the latest AMI conference. Kaoru Yamaguchi from Japan showed that the AMI model of debt-free money can bring down inflation, pay off Government debts, and give work to those who desire a job.

(6) Ellen Brown changes course

Ellen Brown would prefer debt-free money ($ bills not $ bonds), but has lately come to accept the view of L. Randall Wray, a proponent of Chartalism, who holds that

(a) government debt, IN ITS OWN CURRENCY, never matters; Chartalists encourage budget deficits.
(b) current account deficits do not matter, and can even be a benefit.


Warren Mosler and Bill Mitchell are supporters of Wray. The proponents of Chartalism also call it "Modern Monetary Theory" (MMT).

Marshall Auerback noted, "As far as Mosler and Mitchell, they take the classic MMT view that imports are a benefit and exports are a cost"

Ellen is now sending mixed signals.

Wray, Hudson, and Zarlenga were all in the Gang8 forum - a small, closed, Yahoo Group on money. So were Henry C. K. Liu and Geoffrey Gardiner. I do not know the current membership.

Wray, Hudson, Keen and Yamaguchi are Professors of Economics.

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