In 1944, 44 allied nations gathered at the magnificent Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire for a conference, which established the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and set the stage for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Fifty years later, a second Bretton Woods conference was held https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/misc.activism.progressive/8B-EfJl03iE , and last summer a third http://www.centerforfinancialstability.org/bw2014.php .
If a seed is to be considered in light of its unfolding fruits, where do we find ourselves as we stand on the threshold of the 72nd anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference?
As outlined in the following overview, our financial system and economy is ailing, dramatically — for the majority of our fellow citizens, humanity.
^ In 1995, the six largest bank holding companies in the United Sates held 17.1% of our country’s GDP.
^ When the 2008 financial crisis hit us, the percentage of wealth held by the banks rose from 17.1% to 55%.
^ In 2010, two years after the crisis, the combined assets of the holding companies were estimated at 64% of GDP.
^ Examining the US economy alone, from 2009 to 2012 the incomes of the top 1% of the US earners grew by 31.4 %, while incomes of the bottom 99% feel to 0.4 %.
^ Summing up our collective fortunes, the 200 richest people on the earth have acquired more wealth than the 2.5 billion poorest and growing. The bottom-line. ~ Emmanuel Saez & Thomas Piketty: http://www.dailykos.com/story
We trust it is clear (common sense?) that this trend can not continue — if, that is, we are to have a future worth envisioning not only for ourselves but for our children and for the generations to come.
If change is to occur, constructive, good-willed change, may those concerned benefit from understanding how we got to the point we are at — so that we can discover, together, how to do better, make good, contribute to “The Redemption of Our Financial System & Restitution of Our Common Wealth.”
The following offers one angle of vision, that which has inspired our labors: The Bretton Woods IV Convocation. We welcome yours.
What has led to the monumental imbalance of wealth that has contributed not only to “sinking” many Third World nations but, more recently, has threatened to do the same with Ireland, Portugal, Greece, and the US’s own “ship of state”?
Such an imbalance of wealth can be traced back, we suggest, to the fact that in the summer of 1944 the US “debt-based” monetary system was globalized? It was globalized when the US dollar was made “Almighty” (the “reserve currency” to which all other currencies were “pegged”), the “legal tender” for the entire world.
Debt-based, what is meant by this term?
If you take a 1 dollar bill out of your pocket, what do you discover written across the top of the bill, above the penetrating gaze of George Washington: “Federal Reserve Note.”
This was not always the case. On June 4th, 1963, during the Kennedy administration, the words inscribed atop our dollars bills were: “Silver Certificates”, as some may recall. And before that, during Lincoln’s administration we had the same, “Greenbacks”. And before that, going back to Ben Franklin and our Founding Fathers, the same once again: “Colonial Script”. In Franklin and Lincoln’s words, such certificates, public money, were, in fact, our saving grace.
What is the different between a “note” and a “certificate”?
Have you ever walked into a store with a gift certificate? If so, you know it’s value. It is an asset; it represents value that you possess and can exchange for a good or service.
And a note? A note is a debt or an obligation, is it not? It is a note owed to the name of the person on the note: in this case, the “Federal Reserve”.
If that point is clear, its conclusion may be as well. Every dollar in our wallets, purses and assorted accounts is a “debt dollar”, owed, as stated, to the “FED”. These “Federal Reserve Notes” are in contrast, as expressed, to Kennedy’s “Silver Certificates”, Lincoln’s “Greenbacks”, and Franklin’s and our Founders “Colonial Script”.
The “Federal Reserve Notes” are “debt-dollars” because they have been lent into circulation, at interest. In fact, this occurs each and every time you swipe your credit card, which bears the name and logo of the bank that just lent the money to you. If you pause and consider . . . .
“Debt-dollars” are lent, as opposed to spent, into circulation — which was the case with the certificates noted. The latter were spent into circulation as “public” money for public works projects and the like. The point is: no debt was incurred for those into whose wallets and purses such money ended up.
If the foregoing explanation for our “debt-based” monetary system is clear, it raises the question: What can we do about such a system? The answer, we propose, is simple: Work together to create a non-debt based monetary system. Common Sense?
* * * * *
The separate section on the North Country Resolution http://brettonwoodsiv.org/north-country-resolution/ offers our best thoughts on such a work, a cornerstone for a non-debt based monetary system. We welcome your thoughts thereto. The Resolution is the fruit of an emerging Concordian Economics http://brettonwoodsiv.org/concordian-economics/ , which is rooted in the original meaning of the word “economics”: economia/household management. Such a resolution, and the economics that underlie it, would serve to help us get our “House” in order, to resurrect the native “Long House” that, at its height, symbolized one people living in peace and unity with nature and all that was around them: “All Our Relations.”