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The Forum > Article Comments > Bringing the financial system into the 21st century > Comments

Bringing the financial system into the 21st century : Comments

By Ken McKay, published 10/2/2009

A new international finance system is needed and for that we must have a new Bretton Woods Agreement.

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I agree that we need a replacement for Bretton Woods, but not what you propose as a replacement. But that good because we need to discuss the issues without getting into dogma, and hopefully a solution will emerge..
At this stage I favour a 'Bancor' world currency style solution as proposed by Keynes.
But before we get to that can we get clear on what the problem is?
As I see it we have a real economy that makes things and does work. In order to smooth the workings of the real economy we have a financial sector. The real economy is the engine, the financial sector the lubricant.
But as soon as greed comes in the financial sector starts driving the real economy, and sooner or later the real economy is driven too hard and it breaks.
There are many systems that could work provided that the real economy remains the dominant factor, and the financial sector remains subservient.
The financial sector must facilitate, not drive.
That is what I would look for in a replacement for Bretton Woods.
Posted by Daviy, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 10:01:54 AM
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I reckon Davity is spot on about the financial system being a lubricant, and not the real economy.
At the moment it is a parasite on the body of the real economy.
After sucking the profits from the economy for the last decade the host has nearly ran out of blood.
I don't mind the authors plan, but it has no chance of taking off. The folks to blame have not been held to account yet! Until they recognise the crime and stop the criminals (instead of re-funding them!) they will once again set up the system to funnel others' wealth to themselves. The current government efforts to prop-up unsustainable and unproductive industries is shocking and culpable.
Profiteers who produce nothing are killing us: the idiot "leaders" who fund them are preposterous.
Posted by Ozandy, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 10:48:11 AM
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BTW. One of the few authors to pick up on the pseudo-money supply issue.
Q. Why did governments allow a "blackmarket" fiat money supply to be created?
A. Because they were corrupt and/or incompetant.
This is why I was so annoyed that folks thought Howard/Costello were "good economic managers". This is pure rubbish.
They were lucky enough to be "in" when their neo-con mates over in USA created *artificial* wealth, which we shared in. The banks that have made record profits are now reliant on Government guarantees and *Billions* in RBA liquidity. We, the taxpayer have subsidised the million dollar bonuses and ridiculous salaries of these Ponzi scheme masters.
Once again, the big end of town relies on the middle income earner to bail them out. Trickle down economics is nothing but a scam! (which is why they are defending it vigorously at the moment!)
Folks who understand wealth, as distinct from finance knew quite well what was going on when factories and farms found it tougher and tougher. "Good economic management" was far from the reality of the Howard era. "Blatant greed" and "faux dollars" would be more like it.
Posted by Ozandy, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 11:08:21 AM
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You state "If we look at the recent financial crisis, its real root cause is that the private financial institutions have created a “blackmarket” fiat monetary system via the creation of derivatives notionally linked to the residential property market in the United States."

The flaw is that the US government, during a spate of liberal largess in the last 2 years of Clinton's presidency, determined that in addition to the American rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be added the right of home ownership. And to that end the congressional overseers of FreddyMac and FannyMae strongly encouraged these 2nd tier mortgage acquirers and packagers to lower their acceptance criteria for home mortgages thus creating the large category of sub-prime mortgages. Since no investment house would buy these mortgages if they were packaged up in large identifiable blocks FreddieMac and FannieMae mixed in a liberal sprinkling of higher quality mortgages that would meet the normal investment criteria of the wholesale mortgage investment trade. 2 years into the Bush Administration the the president tried to stop this foolishness but was overruled by the Democrat controlled congress.

When the sub-prime mortgages started defaulting, because the mortgagees could not afford what they had signed up for, the default rate in the large blocks of mortgages began to skyrocket eliminating the investment safety factor once the mantra of these safe investments for retirees. This is where the wheels fell off due to the government intervention in the "free market" of home mortgages. This intervention caused the housing boom and subsequent bursting bubble because everyone (thought) they could afford a home with lowered mortgage qualification.

There are many other examples of government intervention in the free market through out history- notably the "recession we had to have". In some cases the intervention is good - for example the requirement for short selling on an up tick. But these types of intervention are usually by highly skilled gov't employees - not politicians.

Now, the author wants to put a whole lot more government political intervention into the free market
Posted by Bruce, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 11:38:35 AM
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In the gentleman’s article he speaks of a tri-metallic standard by which currencies will be fixed against one another (dangerous) and furthermore he lazily suggests an economic security council (absurd). On the tri-metallic standard: the 'tri' metals referred to are finite resources. Does anybody see the potential issue in having an international monetary system dependant on an abundance of preciousness? And additionally a monetary/economic system determined by and intrinsically requiring inflation? Does this proposed monetary system which is the most important system internationally, and pales real markets (domestic and otherwise) in significance - imply a no growth future? There are already conflicts occurring namely Iraq where maybe conspiratorially the accessing a finite resource (oil) was cause for invasion (with its myriad catastrophic consequences). Basing a new international monetary system on a neo Bretton Woods (a deconstructed and now obscure) framework would be regressive. The author is more intelligent than I for at least he has a proposition.
Secondly the Economic Security Council with its permanent Council members would ensure the maintenance of a western hegemony. Would it not be appropriate that the fabric of any new international system (economic, military, and/or a new UN) be truly democratic? The world goods wise, monetarily, and most importantly societally has changed and morphed beyond the wildest comprehension of the thinkers that spawned the industrial revolution. Our Anglo philosophers and politicians to this point economically have eschewed serious consideration of alternate models. Now is the time, now is the time to leave our anthro-centric hats at the door and reflect upon notions of potential future
Posted by Matt Keyter, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 11:53:39 AM
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I agree with the author; We need a new international financial agreement based largely on what Keynes had in mind for Bretton Woods. The original Bretton Woods Agreement was doomed once the USA passed domestic peek oil production in 1973 and the Basle Agreements really didn't recognize the problems.
In July 1999 I wrote the following as part of a letter to The Bulletin about an article titled, “Old Mother Hubbard.”
The world really is upside down when many of the worlds leaders think it is reasonable for the largest and most prosperous economy to be seen as the consumer of last resort.
We are failing to clearly distinguish between various types of capital and what I consider to be pseudo capital. The longest lasting real capital is agricultural land whether it is growing crops meat or timber and all it demands is careful and adequate maintenance. A second class of real capital are depletable resources such as coal, oil and other minerals. If any country wastes or exports these items to support current consumption it is robbing it’s future generations. This leads to the pseudo capital. America is consuming, for example, Arabian oil (a real asset), paying for it by creating bank balances in American banks for Arab princes and claiming that these balances can be on lent as if they were real capital.
Adam Smith was adamant that capital should not be allowed to move across borders. Politicians need to institute a different exchange system for genuine international trade. This could be based on a composite international exchange currency instead of the ridiculous reliance on the American dollar and the USA’s unwillingness to control its money supply and the fictitious savings, in international trade terms, of its professional and business class.
Everyone who believes that economic management is chiefly concerned with improving the well being of the human race needs to remember, every day, section 6 of chapter ten of the General Theory of Lord Keynes.
Posted by Foyle, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 12:36:27 PM
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