You will have noticed that the Chancellor has been making noises about bank reform?
 
When the next general election come around, should bank reform be part of the electoral manifesto of the party you vote for. 
 
Do you consider that reforming bank regulation is important?
 
Before you respond, please read through these quotes and the comments concerning the newly published book 'Modernising Money' http://bit.ly/Vgx2uh

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I'm no economist but I'm proud of that. After reading a little on the Positive Money website I agree with them when they say that quantitative easing (some form of enema I think) goes directly to what I call 'the pretendy' economy, banks and hedge funders and the like. If it had gone to the real economy, butchers, bakers, traction engine makers et al, then growth and recovery would happen overnight (ish). This a long way round to saying to Joe-Yes it should be 'the' issue at the next election. Banks are private companies who love the free market until it bites their bits off. If me and Joe have bailed them out with our money (which we have) then me and Joe should decide their fate. The banks are the ones creating debt whilst they have an indebtedness to me and Joe (and our mates in the country). I don't have a easy way to get that idea to become very real. So if the Labour Party wants to get in next time then regulate the banks, shift the money away from these self seeking privateers and get industry making green technologies that may slow down global warming but definitely will create work, and save us a lot of money plus help keep us independent of gas/oil vagaries!!!!!!  I'll stop ranting now-it's Friday afternoon.

Not a bad rant, if you don't mind me saying so Bren.

Anyone can watch the three short videos by Positive Money on the main page and get their drift.

I'm going to paste the introduction to the book below. Be interested in comments.

>>>

MODERNISING MONEY

 

INTRODUCTION

 

“Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today.”

 

Sir Mervyn King Governor of the Bank of England, 2003 - 2013 October 25th 2010

 

After the experience of the last few years, few people would disagree with Mervyn King’s claim above. The 2007-08 financial crisis led to massive increases in unemployment and cuts to public services as governments around the world were forced to bail out failing banks. While the complete collapse of the financial system may have been averted, six years later the countries at the centre of the crisis have still not recovered. In economic terms the permanent loss to the world economy has been estimated at a staggering $60 - $200 trillion, between one and three years of global production. For the UK the figures are between £1.8 and £7.4 trillion (Haldane, 2010).

 

Yet while the 2007/08 crisis was undoubtedly a surprise to many, it would be wrong to think that banking crises are somehow rare events. In the UK there has been a banking crisis on average once every 15 years since 1945 (Reinhart and Rogoff, 2009), whilst worldwide there have been 147 banking crises between 1970 and 2011 (Laeven and Valencia, 2012).

 

It seems clear that our banking system is fundamentally dysfunctional, yet for all the millions of words of analysis in the press and financial papers, very little has been written about the real reasons for why this is the case. Although there are many problems with banking, the underlying issue is that successive governments have ceded the responsibility creating new money to banks.

 

Today, almost all of the money used by people and businesses across the world is created not by the state or central banks (such as the Bank of England), but by the private banking sector. Banks create new money, in the form of the numbers (deposits) that appear in bank accounts, through the accounting process used when they make loans. In the words of Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England from 2003-2013, “When banks extend loans to their customers, they create money by crediting their customers’ accounts.” (2012) Conversely, when people use those deposits to repay loans, the process is reversed and money effectively disappears from the economy.

 

Allowing money to be created in this way affects us all. The current monetary system is the reason we have such a pronounced and destructive cycle of boom and bust, and it is the reason that individuals, businesses and governments are overburdened with debt.

 

When banks feel confident and are willing to lend, new money is created. Banks profit from the interest they charge on loans, and therefore incentivise their staff to make loans (and create money) through bonuses, commissions and other incentive schemes. These loans tend to be disproportionately allocated towards the financial and property markets as a result of banks’ preference for lending against collateral. As a result our economy has become skewed towards property bubbles and speculation, while the public has become buried under a mountain of debt. When the burden of debt becomes too much for some borrowers, they default on their loans, putting the solvency of their banks at risk. Worried about the state of the economy and the ability of individuals and businesses to repay their loans, all banks reduce their lending, harming businesses across the economy.

 

When banks make new loans at a slower rate than the rate at which their old loans are repaid, the money supply starts to shrink. This restriction in the money supply causes the economy to slow down, leading to job losses, bankruptcies and defaults on debt, which lead to further losses for the banks, which react by restricting their lending even further. This downward spiral continues until the banks eventually regain their ‘confidence’ and start creating new money again by increasing their lending.

 

We have no hope of living in a stable economy while the money supply - the foundation of our economy - depends entirely on the lending activities of banks that are chasing short-term profits. While the Bank of England maintains that it has the process of money creation under control, a quick glance at the growth of the bank-issued money supply over the last 40 years (shown opposite) calls this claim into question.

 

By ceding the power to create money to banks – private sector corporations – the state has built instability into the economy, since the incentives facing banks guarantee that they will create too much money (and debt) until the financial system becomes unstable. This is a view recently vindicated by the chairman of the UK’s Financial Services Authority, Lord (Adair) Turner, who stated that: “The financial crisis of 2007/08 occurred because we failed to constrain the private financial system’s creation of private credit and money” (2012).

 

Yet if this instability in the money supply weren’t enough of a problem, newly created money is accompanied by an equivalent amount of debt. It is therefore extremely difficult to reduce the overall burden of personal and household debt when any attempt to pay it down leads to a reduction in the money supply, which may in turn lead to a recession.

 

The years following the recent financial crisis have clearly shown that we have a dysfunctional banking system. However, the problem runs deeper than bad banking practice. It is not just the structures, governance, culture or the size of banks that are the problem; it is that banks are responsible for creating the nation’s money supply. It is this process of creating and allocating new money that needs fundamental and urgent reform.

 

This book explores how the monetary system could be changed to work better for businesses, households, society and the environment, and lays out a workable, detailed and effective plan for such a reform.

 

Our proposed reforms

 

We have little hope of living in a stable and prosperous economy while the money supply depends entirely on the lending activities of banks chasing short-term profits. Attempt to regulate the current monetary system are unlikely to be successful – as economist Hyman Minsky argued, stability itself is destabilising. Indeed, financial crises are a common feature of financial history, regardless of the country, government, or economic policies in place: Crises have occurred in rich and poor countries, under fixed and flexible exchange rate regimes, gold standards and pure fiat money systems, as well as a huge variety of regulatory regimes. Pretty much the only common denominator in all these systems is that the banks have been the creators of the money supply. As Reinhart and Rogoff (2009) put it:

 

 “Throughout history, rich and poor countries alike have been lending, borrowing, crashing -- and recovering -- their way through an extraordinary range of financial crises. Each time, the experts have chimed, 'this time is different', claiming that the old rules of valuation no longer apply and that the new situation bears little similarity to past disasters.”

 

Rather than attempt to regulate the current monetary system, instead it is the fundamental method of issuing and allocating money that needs to change. These proposals are based on plans initially put forward by Frederick Soddy in the 1920s, and then subsequently by Irving Fisher and Henry Simons in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Different variations of these ideas have since been proposed by Nobel Prize winners including Milton Friedman (1960), and James Tobin (1987), as well as eminent economists Laurence Kotlikoff (2010) and John Kay (2009). Most recently, a working paper by economists at the International Monetary Fund modelled Irving Fisher’s original proposal and found “strong support” for all of its claimed benefits (Benes & Kumhof, 2012).

 

While inspired by Irving Fisher’s original work and variants on it, the proposals in this book have some significant differences. Our starting point has been the work of Joseph Huber and James Robertson in their book Creating New Money (2000), which updated and modified Fisher’s proposals to take account of the fact that money, the payments system and banking in general is now electronic, rather than paper-based. This book develops these ideas even further, strengthening the proposal in response to feedback and criticism from a wide range of people.

 

There are four main objectives of the reforms outlined in this book:

 

  1. To create a stable money supply based on the needs of the economy. Currently money is created by banks when they make loans, driven by the drive to maximise their profit. Under our proposals, the money supply would be increased or decreased by an independent public body, accountable to Parliament, in response to the levels of inflation, unemployment and growth in the economy. This would protect the economy from credit bubbles and crunches, and limit monetary sources of inflation.
  2. To reduce the burden of personal, household and government debt. New money would be created free of any corresponding debt, and spent into the economy to replace the outstanding stock of debt-based money that has been issued by banks. By directing new money towards the roots of the economy - the high street and the real (non-financial) economy - we can allow ordinary people to pay down the debts that have been built up under the current monetary system.
  3. To re-align risk and reward. Currently the government (and therefore the UK taxpayer) promises to repay customers up to £85,000 of any deposits they hold at a bank that fails. This means that banks can make risky investments and reap the rewards if they go well, but be confident of a bail out if their investments go badly. Our proposals will ensure that those individuals that want to keep their money safe can do so, at no risk, while those that wish to make a return will take both the upside and downside of any risk taking. This should encourage more responsible risk taking.
  4. To provide a structure of banking that allows banks to fail, no matter their size. With the current structure of banking no large bank can be permitted to fail, as to do so would create economic chaos. Simple changes outlined in this book would ensure that banks could be liquidated while ensuring that customers would keep access to their current account money at all times. The changes outlined actually reduce the likelihood of bank failure, providing additional protection for savers.

 

 

In order to achieve these aims, the key element of the reforms is to remove the ability of banks to create new money (in the form of bank deposits) when they issue loans. The simplest way to do this is to require banks to make a clear distinction between bank accounts where they promise to repay the customer ‘on demand’ or with instant access, and other accounts where the customer consciously requests their funds to be placed at risk and invested. Current accounts are then converted into state-issued electronic currency, rather than being promises to pay from a bank, and the payments system is functionally separated from the lending side of a bank’s business. The act of lending would then involve transferring state-issued electronic currency from savers to borrowers. Banks would become money brokers, rather than money creators, and the money supply would be stable regardless of whether banks are currently expanding or contracting their lending.

 

Taken together, the reforms end the practice of ‘fractional reserve banking’, a slightly inaccurate term used to describe a banking system where banks promise to repay all customers on demand despite being unable to do so. In late 2010 Mervyn King discussed such ideas in a speech:

 

“A more fundamental, example [of reform] would be to divorce the payment system from risky lending activity – that is to prevent fractional reserve banking … In essence these proposals recognise that if banks undertake risky activities then it is highly dangerous to allow such ‘gambling’ to take place on the same balance sheet as is used to support the payments system, and other crucial parts of the financial infrastructure. And eliminating fractional reserve banking explicitly recognises that the pretence that risk-free deposits can be supported by risky assets is alchemy. If there is a need for genuinely safe deposits the only way they can be provided, while ensuring costs and benefits are fully aligned, is to insist such deposits do not coexist with risky assets.” (King, 2010)

 

After describing the current system as requiring a belief in ‘financial alchemy’, King went on to say that, “For a society to base its financial system on alchemy is a poor advertisement for its rationality.” Indeed, over the next few chapters we expect readers to find themselves questioning the sanity of our existing monetary system.

 

The structure of this book

 

Part 1: The Current Monetary System

 

Chapter 1 provides a brief history of money and banking and describes the emergence of the monetary system we have today.

 

Chapter 2 describes how the current monetary system works and how commercial banks are able to create the nation's money supply.

 

Chapter 3 considers the wide range of influences that affect that amount of money that the banks create.

 

Chapter 4 analyses the economic effects of the current monetary system.

 

Chapter 5 looks at the social and ecological impacts of the current monetary system.

 

Part 2: The Reformed Monetary System

 

Chapter 6 describes the changes that must be made to the operations of banks in order to remove their ability to create money.

 

Chapter 7 describes how new money will instead be created by a public body, and how that money will be put into the economy.

 

Chapter 8 outlines the transition between the current system and reformed system (with further technical details provided in Appendix III).

 

Chapter 9 covers the likely social, economic and environmental impacts of a monetary system where money is issued solely by the state, without a corresponding debt.

 

Chapter 10 considers the likely impact of these reforms on the banking and financial sector.

 

I can't get my head around this "creating money" idea.  If the banks "create money" to lend me some, and I don't pay it back, how does that affect the money supply?  The article says that the money "created" is just some figures on a balance sheet.  How can that go missing?  If it takes a few taps on the keyboard to create it, surely it can be reinstated with the same keyboard, just tap it back on to the bank's balance sheet.  The whole idea seems like Alice in Wonderland.  I'm not unintelligent but this whole business of banks and the money roundabout makes hardly any sense.

We hear that hundreds of billions of pounds have gone missing.  Where has it gone?  Is it packed away in containers somewhere?  Has a small cabal of shadowy criminals hidden it in a subterranean cave like Goldfinger?  To whom exactly have "future generations" got to pay back the accumulated debts - such as these huge PFI mortgages on schools and hospitals - owed by their forefathers, suckers like us?  For Christ's sake, these future generations of debt-collecting Shylocks aren't even conceived yet, but our children's children are already in debt to the bastards!  Let's know who their grandfathers are (if they're born yet) and we can arrange for their humane and painless castration (I'm not at all serious about this, just letting off steam, in case anyone's worried about my mental health or supposed criminal intent).

But I do sometimes feel somebody is taking me (and everyone else) for an idiot!

Peter

Hi Peter

I know just how you feel. I've been there.

When the financial crisis kicked off in 2007, one of the more intelligent people I know (a bit of a mad professor) asked me, "Who do we owe all this money too?"

It struck me right there and then that I couldn't answer him properly - so I determined to find out. 

I was taught Latin at school, Avogadro's Hypothesis and that the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the square on the other two sides.  What practical use has that knowledge been in my life? None! 

I've used money just about everyday of my life since my mother first gave me a penny to buy toffees with and what was I taught in school about money?  Nothing!

For what it's worth I passed my 'A' level economics at Tech when I was twenty-three, which meant I knew as much about economics in 2007 as someone who once read the highway code knows about reversing an articulated lorry up a one-way street.

So I asked around, was recommend books and have been reading about money and finance more or less ever since. 

I've come to believe that very few people understand anything at all about money, what it is, where it comes from, what is it used for and who controls it - and you!

Peter - just imagine what it would be like if there was no such thing as money!  Not quite as bad as if there was no fresh-air, or water, or sunshine, but life, as we know it, would be very difficult...think about it.

Now imagine if you, and only you, could create money and therefore provide it to the rest of humanity on whatever terms you choose!
 
As far as I'm concerned, history is the story of how the powerful few dominate and exploit the many. The traditional way the few dominate the many is with a big stick. Since the capitalism replaced feudalism, they are able to do it by controlling the money supply. By controlling the money supply, they can control just about EVERYTHING.
 
You said you can't get your head around how banks 'create' money by making loans - yes?
 
Let's say Jack, a self-employed builder, walks into a bank and asks to borrow £10,000 to buy a new van and some power tools.  Jack signs a contract with the bank confirming that he will repay £10,000 over a period of five years, plus interest. This legally enforceable contract represents an asset for the bank and when the bank comes to draw up its balance sheet it will be included as an additional asset worth £10,000. Jack, having committed to pay the bank £10,000, wants to receive the ‘money’ he has borrowed, so the bank opens up an account for him, and records a balance of £10,000. There is no need for the bank to first ‘find’ the money from anywhere else. Once they have decided that Jack is credit-worthy and likely to repay, they make the loan. In the words of Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England: “[Banks] can lend simply by expanding the two sides of their balance sheet simultaneously, creating  money.”
 
Ninety-seven percent of the all the money currently in circulation was created this way - and remember, on the banks' terms (as debt!!!)

"Aha!"  I just had an "Aha!" moment, thanks to you, Joe.

It goes to show how my mind - my "understanding" of "everything" - and my total behaviour has been moulded and manipulated since infancy.  And how I've controlled and manipulated my children since theirs (although they've proved remarkably resilient and independent-minded).  Not a pretty story, but one that most parents might relate.

The question is, how can we climb out from under this huge burden of oppression?  I'm assuming here that it's going to need to be a collective, co-operative effort, that's why I say "we".  Perhaps the manifest weakening of the banking system and its obvious faults might make it easier.  People seem to be rousing from the torpor and showing feeble signs of dissent e.g. people clap enthusiastically when Owen Jones speaks out on 'Question Time'.  It's not much, but it is some encouragement to people like me - the almost-defeated and pretty-well past it!  :)

I look forward to your tasty answer(s) in due course.  Keep up the good work, Joe.

Peter

They say 

We have little hope of living in a stable and prosperous economy while the money supply depends entirely on the lending activities of banks chasing short-term profits.

Agreed, but what stands out for me, or rather seems to be noticeable for its absence from the proposals is any suggestion that the financial system as a whole could and should be turned into a not-for-profit service enabling exchange and credit to the productive side of the economy. Similar things have happened before to energy suppliers, steel producers, transport providers - oh and health, education and social services of all kinds. This time we'll need to go the whole hog, with a fully not-for-profit economy.

Greek workers lead the way.....  http://www.viome.org/

Gerry - The entire book is about how to enable the productive side of the economy by reforming the way banks are allowed to create the money supply.
 
I'm reluctant to paste too much stuff from the book here, in case it kills the discussion, but see below.
 
Despite the destructiveness of the current monetary system, there are still those who defend it. One reason for this is a deep level of ignorance of how the monetary system actually works. Most of the population (and most politicians) are under the impression that only the state has the authority to create money. Many of those who do understand that most money is created by banks believe this happens through the limited and predictable ‘money multiplier’ model of money creation, which places control of the money supply firmly in the hands of the central bank.
 
The reforms outlined in this book would bring the money supply back under control. By removing the power to create money from banks and returning it to an independent but accountable public body, which may only sanction its creation during periods when inflation is low and stable, the money supply can be made to grow in line with the growth of the real economy. Instead of new money being allocated where it is of greatest benefit to the banks, it would instead be allocated where it would most benefit the population as a whole – in the real economy, through the salaries of government employees, tax rebates and reductions, or via direct payments to citizens. In doing so it returns the privilege and benefits of money creation to the people.

"Instead of new money being allocated where it is of greatest benefit to the banks......"


What is this 'greatest benefit from the allocation of money' that accrues to the banks (apart from dividends to shareholders and bonuses to directors and high-end employees)?

Something tells me it could be the absolute control they might exercise over everything that happens, and everyone it happens to.  So they could (purely theoretically) ordain the overthrow and collapse of democratic governments, wage wars on any pretext, control and distort the output of information via the media, manipulate populations into 'wanting' and 'needing' cheap gee-gaws, into eating foods and guzzling drinks that narcotise, pacify, enfeeble and sometimes kill.   But we all know this is highly improbable in a civilised world such as the world we inhabit, don't we?

Paranoia is the word that describes an irrational feeling of being persecuted where no persecution is actually taking place.  There's no word to describe a state of blissful ignorance of real oppression and persecution, of being systematically duped and lied-to, and never realising you're being totally screwed, at least in theory.

Perhaps I should get out more, but it's a bit nippy today ;-)

Joe,

I have read the Positive Money book, Modernising Money. Skimmed it in places I must admit. I can not find any great fault in the technicalities of changing from a debt based issuance of money by the private banking system to a debt free issuance by an independent Monetary Control Panel. It is common sense really.

The one item which got my attention was that during the sudden transition, bank reserves at the Bank of England are converted to real cash and credited to the private banks. There is no doubt that they will speculate with this windfall and create chaos again. Some stiff regulation is required here to rein them in.

I believe that all derivative and money market speculation should be outlawed and the role of money given its rightful place as mainly financing wealth creation in the productive economy. At present only 8% of bank money is invested in industry.  This is the reason why we have seen an inexorable decline in the fortunes of Britain and the accompanying unemployment and social disintegration.

The present system is dysfunctional clearly and has led to many financial crashes, wars and famines, in various continents. But it has been in place for a few hundred years and the Money Powers have enormous influence because of their ability to create money from nothing and issue it at compound interest. In fact the bankers have more power than our elected Government and in reality, control our economy.

Problem is that bankers have a short-term, profit driven view and are certainly not altruistic in their motives. Their only loyalty is to  their shareholders and their enormous bonuses derived from gouging money from the real economy. They truly are predators on a nation's well-being and wealth.

But they have a fatal weakness inherent in the system as, Karl Marx observed, and that is greed. This is why they have chased down the last penny in the system and crashed the world financial system. Somehow they have convinced the inept politicians to bail them out at the expense of the citizenry, without even a discussion in the House of Parliament. We get austerity and they continue playing roulette in the markets, which they have rigged with their Libor manipulation, money laundering, interest rate swaps fraud,  mortgage  fraud , credit default obligations and PPI fraud. They certainly are risk averse and only gamble on certainties.

 It is absurd that such a system is in place and the majority of people are deliberately kept unaware of such a system .

As Henry Ford opined in 1928, 'If the people ever realise that the issue of their money is such a monumental  fraud, they will rise up and hang the bankers from every lamppost'.

The problem is how to get a new monetary system in place, that is to the benefit of the population and not a predator upon them. The politicians of every party do not have the will to carry out this essential reform and the Government itself must be deduced as being dysfunctional.

 It is an elected Government's  duty to ensure the security and welfare of its citizens. Our many Governements, of every political persuasion, have failed manifestly in this regard. The question must be asked, is this because of economic and monetary  ignorance or have they been suborned by the many temptations and influences exerted by various financial  lobbyists?

The influences used are well known  and have been used for centuries by those who wish to retain power and influence events. Bribery, titles, promises of  sinecures in the  banking establishment, membership of exclusive societies/clubs, character assassination and their favourite and most effective of all - blackmail. If the aforementioned methods fail, they are not above using the ultimate weapon of elimination.

These people are Machiavellian in their pursuit and retention of their privileges and power and will not roll over and surrender easily. They  are beyond greedy, they want it all. They wish everyone on the planet to be in their debt and paying into their system. The term is debt peonage, the modern form of serfdom.

We have only to look at the European Monetary system, where the private banks finance the various countries. The bankers are prepared to standby and watch countries disintegrate, such as Greece and Spain, as long as they get their Shylock pound of flesh. These countries are no longer Sovereign and do not control their own economies but are in the vice like grip of the money lenders. They are persuaded to privatise their national industries, gas, water, electricicity, transport, to pay their debts. This is extortion as practised by the Mafia and a form of hostage taking of the citizens, who are forced to pay ever escalating charges for these essential utilities. The ultimate destination of these payments end up in the bank coffers as interest charged on the privatisation financing, a double whammy.

This is not Freedom.

Freedom for a country is where it controls it destiny.  Without Government control of its Sovereign  Money, a country is not free, but subservient to the banking cartel. This is where we and the other European countries have arrived.  A bleak future awaits our children unless this is changed.

The issue is rarely discussed in the mainstream media newspapers or TV, again we must deduce that these are toothless puppets of the financial power. Only in the blogosphere can you find the information required to formulate a honest opinion.

 The mainstream media carries out its mandate of keeping the masses in their cuddly pink teddy bear world of unreality, while they are picked clean of their money.

We are dealing with really evil people and we must realise this clearly. They have no loyalty to any country.  Money is their God and "all of it" is their creed.

@Daniel - just to clarify on this (fairly technical) point:

The one item which got my attention was that during the sudden transition, bank reserves at the Bank of England are converted to real cash and credited to the private banks. There is no doubt that they will speculate with this windfall and create chaos again. Some stiff regulation is required here to rein them in.

These reserves are already assets of the banks i.e. their property. So it's not a windfall; it doesn't change their financial position at all. It's true that they will be able to lend this money to people or businesses after the reform (whereas in the current system reserves can only be lent to other banks or used to pay other banks) so it does add an additional £200bn of 'lendable money' to the system. However, this is not really a bad thing: the main (unfounded) criticism of these reforms is that it will cause a credit crunch which will harm the economy, so ensuring that there is £200bn of lendable reserves at the banks on the day after the reform means that that argument fails. 

 Ben ,

Thanks for clarifying that. Windfall was not the correct technical term. But  reserves which can only be exchanged between banks are converted to public usable finance, and as you say floods the economy with new money. But may be used for specualtion in the derivatives casino by the banks.

"We are dealing with really evil people and we must realise this clearly........"

Have to challenge you a bit on this, Daniel.

What do you mean when you say "we are dealing with really evil people"?  Do you mean we are conducting, or plan to conduct, some kind of purposeful face-face-transaction with people whom we've clearly identified as evil, we know who they are, what evil acts they've committed, against whom, and when?  

Or is this just a rhetorical flourish?  I ask because you go on to say "we must realise this clearly".

To me "must realise this clearly" means that we're under some kind of obligation or imperative call to action; to bring something into "reality".  What action, if any, have you got in mind for us against the evil ones (I assume you include yourself along with me and others)?  Could you sketch something out for us?  It doesn't have to be definitive.  Back-of-an-envelope would be helpful, just so we get your practical drift.

I'm not just nit-picking here, Daniel, even if it reads like it.  I share some of your concerns about the future that our children will inhabit.  I'm inclined to think it will be - if not bleak - very considerably different from our present.  At my age (I'm 74) I have a certain perspective on societal change, so common sense tells me that the world will be significantly different in forty years hence from what it's like now.   Whether it will be 'better' or 'worse' than now will be a question that can only be answered by people whose personal experience encompasses this current era, and that to come.

On that matter I must be neutral, I just don't know, nor - I suspect - do you.  Long-term predictions are usually shown to be wide of the mark.  One thing I've learned, though, is that humankind is infinitely adaptable to changes in circumstance, even cataclysm.  As a species we have survived, so far at least.  Infinite survival is a remote and imponderable matter.  The extinction of humankind is conceivable.

This might seem a bit far from the original topic of banking reform, but you've touched on an issue that stirs something in me and I'm sure in many others.  I'm thinking Greece, and Spain, and Italy. So I'll be interested in how your thinking develops, interested to have you 'flesh out' the bones of your thesis, if you can and want to.  That's what this forum is for, I think.

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