What is money? And how well does it work to solve societyâ€™s ills? Bernard Lietaer, author of the upcoming book Access to Human Wealth: Money beyond Greed and Scarcity (Access Books, 2003), has made a lifeâ€™s work of exploring these questions. Lietaer has been involved in the world of money systems for more than 25 years, and his experience in monetary matters ranges from multinational corporations to developing countries. He co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the Euro), and served as president of the Electronic Payment System in his native Belgium. He also co-founded one of the largest and most successful currency funds.
Even Alan Greenspan, the governor of the Federal Reserve and the official guardian of the conventional money system, says, â€œWe will see a return of private currencies in the 21st century.â€
Your money’s value is determined by a global casino of unprecedented proportions: $2 trillion are traded per day in foreign exchange markets, 100 times more than the trading volume of all the stockmarkets of the world combined. Only 2% of these foreign exchange transactions relate to the “real” economy reflecting movements of real goods and services in the world, and 98% are purely speculative. […”> Unless some precautions are taken soon, there is at least a 50-50 chance that the next five to ten years will see a global money meltdown, the only plausible way for a global depression.
And Lietaers adds in the interview:
There is practically no way today for a developing country to have a reasonable monetary policy within the current rules of the game. […”> Whether you fix your currency to the dollar or let it float, you end up with an unmanageable monetary problem, like Brazil, Russia or Argentina have experienced. Eighty-seven countries have gone through a major currency crisis in the last 25 years. Their fiscal policies are imposed by an International Monetary Fund (IMF). I am afraid that if the United States had to live by the rules that are imposed on, say, Brazil, the United States of America would become a developing country in one generation.
This system is based in scarcity, as Lietaer says in another interview:
We can produce more than enough food to feed everybody, and there is definitely enough work for everybody in the world, but there is clearly not enough money to pay for it all. The scarcity is in our national currencies. In fact, the job of central banks is to create and maintain that currency scarcity. The direct consequence is that we have to fight with each other in order to survive.
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