Friday, May 12, 2006

How US Dollars are Created

Most everyone would agree that money makes the world go round. But how many of us understand what makes the money go round? The text below is an excerpt from G Edward Griffin's The Creature From Jekyll Island. It describes a process that he calls "The Mandrake Mechanism," named after the cartoon character "Mandrake the Magician." Mandrake the Magician could make things appear out of thin air, and then cause them to vanish again on a whim. This is very similar to the way that the American money system works.

Many people categorize Griffin's views as "right-wing extremism." But what this boils down to to me is as follows: If humanity is to survive and prosper, honest people must prevail. No matter what your "ism" or your idealistic bent is, honest people must prevail in order for justice to be served. I think it's not too much of a stretch to suggest that most people would also agree that the powers that be do not rule with honesty as their highest principle. Most Americans think that all politicians lie--even the ones that they support. So this raises the question: what is the root of the dishonesty in our government? The answer: our monetary system.

So many people believe they are being lied to, but so few people understand that foundation for that lie... In fact I would be willing to venture a guess that many Americans still think our money is backed by gold or silver (which it hasn't been since 1933)... The text below explains the way in which most of the US Dollar money supply is created. It is factual and 100% verifiable as truth. The only conclusion that one can logically draw from this information is that our money system is based on lies and is the root of most of the dishonesty in our society.



Start with...


The federal government adds ink to a piece of paper, creates impressive designs around the edges, and calls it a bond or Treasury note. It is merely a promise to pay a specified sum at a specified interest on a specified date. As we shall see in the following steps, this debt eventually becomes the foundation for almost the entire nation's money supply. In reality, the government has created cash, but it doesn't yet look like cash. To convert these IOUs into paper bills and checkbook money is the function of the Federal Reserve System. To bring about that transformation, the bond is given to the Fed where it is then classified as a..


An instrument of government debt is considered an asset because it is assumed the government will keep its promise to pay. This is based upon its ability to obtain whatever money it needs through taxation. Thus, the strength of this asset is the power to take back that which it gives. So the Federal Reserve now has an "asset" which can be used to offset a liability. It then creates this liability by adding ink to yet another piece of paper and exchanging that with the government in return for the asset. That second piece of paper is a..


There is no money in any account to cover this check. Anyone else doing that would be sent to prison. It is legal for the Fed, however, because Congress wants the money, and this is the easiest way to get it. (To raise taxes would be political suicide; to depend on the public to buy all the bonds would not be realistic, especially if interest rates are set artificially low; and to print very large quantities of currency would be obvious and controversial.) This way, the process is mysteriously wrapped up in the banking system. The end result, however, is the same as turning on government printing presses and simply manufacturing fiat money (money created by the order of government with nothing of tangible value backing it) to pay government expenses. Yet, in accounting terms, the books are said to be "balanced" because the liability of the money is offset by the "asset" of the IOU. The Federal Reserve check received by the government then is endorsed and sent back to one of the Federal Reserve banks where it now becomes a..


Once the Federal Reserve check has been deposited into the government's account, it is used to pay government expenses and, thus, is transformed into many...


These checks become the means by which the first wave of fiat money floods into the economy. Recipients now deposit them into their own bank accounts where they become..


Commercial bank deposits immediately take on a split personality.

On the one hand, they are liabilities to the bank because they are owed back to the depositors. But, as long as they remain in the bank, they also are considered as assets because they are on hand. Once again, the books are balanced: the assets offset the liabilities. But the process does not stop there. Through the magic of fractional-reserve banking, the deposits are made to serve an additional and more lucrative purpose. To accomplish this, the on-hand deposits now become reclassified in the books and called..


Reserves for what? Are these for paying off depositors should they want to close out of their accounts? No. That's the lowly function they served when they were classified as mere assets. Now that they have been given the name of "reserves," they become the magic wand to materialize even larger amounts of fiat money. This is where the real action is: at the level of the commercial banks. Here's how it works. The banks are permitted by the Fed to hold as little as 10% of their deposits in "reserve." That means, if they receive deposits of $1 million from the first wave of fiat money created by the Fed, they have $900,000 more than they are required to keep on hand ($1 million less 10% reserve). In bankers' language, that $900,000 is called..


The word "excess" is a tip off that these so-called reserves have a special destiny. Now that they have been transmuted into an excess, they are considered as available for lending. And so in due course these excess reserves are converted into..


But wait a minute. How can this money be loaned out when it is owned by the original depositors who are still free to write checks and spend it any time they wish? The answer is that, when the new loans are made, they are not made with the same money at all. They are made with brand new money created out of thin air for that purpose. The nation's money supply simply increases by ninety per cent of the bank's deposits. Furthermore, this new money is far more interesting to the banks than the old. The old money, which they received from depositors, requires them to pay out interest or perform services for the privilege of using it. But, with the new money, the banks collect interest, instead, which is not too bad considering it cost them nothing to make. Nor is that the end of the process. When this second wave of fiat money moves into the economy, it comes right back into the banking system, just as the first wave did, in the form of..


The process now repeats but with slightly smaller numbers each time around. What was a "loan" on Friday comes back into the bank as a "deposit" on Monday. The deposit then is reclassified as a "reserve" and ninety per cent of that becomes an "excess" reserve which, once again, is available for a new "loan." Thus, the $1 million of first wave fiat money gives birth to $900,000 in the second wave, and that gives birth to $810,000 in the third wave ($900,000 less 10% reserve). It takes about twenty-eight times through the revolving door of deposits becoming loans becoming deposits becoming more loans until the process plays itself out to the maximum effect, which is..


The amount of fiat money created by the banking cartel is approximately nine times the amount of the original government debt which made the entire process possible. When the original debt itself is added to that figure, we finally have...


The total amount of fiat money created by the Federal Reserve and the commercial banks together is approximately ten times the amount of the underlying government debt. To the degree that this newly created money floods into the economy in excess of goods and services, it causes the purchasing power of all money, both old and new, to decline. Prices go up because the relative value of the money has gone down. The result is the same as if that purchasing power had been taken from us in taxes. The reality of this process, therefore, is that it is a..


Without realizing it, Americans have paid over the years, in addition to their federal income taxes and excise taxes, a completely hidden tax equal to many times the national debt! And that still is not the end of the process. Since our money supply is purely an arbitrary entity with nothing behind it except debt, its quantity can go down as well as up. When people are going deeper into debt, the nation's money supply expands and prices go up, but when they pay off their debts and refuse to renew, the money supply contracts and prices tumble. That is exactly what happens in times of economic or political uncertainty. This alternation between period of expansion and contraction of the money supply is the underlying cause of..


Who benefits from all of this? Certainly not the average citizen.

The only beneficiaries are the political scientists in Congress who enjoy the effect of unlimited revenue to perpetuate their power, and the monetary scientists within the banking cartel called the Federal Reserve System who have been able to harness the American people, without their knowing it, to the yoke of modern feudalism.


The previous figures are based on a "reserve" ratio of 10% (a money-expansion ratio of 10-to-1). It must be remembered, however, that this is purely arbitrary. Since the money is fiat with no previous-metal backing, there is no real limitation except what the politicians and money managers decide is expedient for the moment. Altering this ratio is the third way in which the Federal Reserve can influence the nation's supply of money. The numbers, therefore, must be considered as transient.

At any time there is a "need" for more money, the ratio can be increased to 20-to-1 or 50-to-1, or the pretense of a reserve can be dropped altogether. There is virtually no limit to the amount of fiat money that can be manufactured under the present system.


Because the Federal Reserve can be counted on to "monetize" (convert into money) virtually any amount of government debt, and because this process of expanding the money supply is the primary cause of inflation, it is tempting to jump to the conclusion that federal debt and inflation are but two aspects of the same phenomenon. This, however, is not necessarily true. It is quite possible to have either one without the other.

The banking cartel holds a monopoly in the manufacture of money. Consequently, money is created only when IOUs are "monetized" by the Fed or by commercial banks. When private individuals, corporations, or institutions purchase government bonds, they must use money they have previously earned and saved. In other words, no new money is created, because they are using funds that are already in existence. Therefore, the sale of government bonds to the banking system is inflationary, but when sold to the private sector, it is not. That is the primary reason the United States avoided massive inflation during the 1980s when the federal government was going into debt at a greater rate than ever before in its history. By keeping interest rates high, these bonds became attractive to private investors, including those in other countries.15 Very little new money was created, because most of the bonds were purchased with American dollars already in existence. This, of course, was a temporary fix at best.

Today, those bonds are continually maturing and are being replaced by still more bonds to include the original debt plus accumulated interest. Eventually this process must come to an end and, when it does, the Fed will have no choice but to literally buy back all the debt of the '80s -- that is, to replace all of the formerly invested private money with newly manufactured fiat money -- plus a great deal more to cover the interest. Then we will understand the meaning of inflation.

On the other side of the coin, the Federal Reserve has the option of manufacturing money even if the federal government does not go deeper into debt. For example, the huge expansion of the money supply leading up to the stock market crash in 1929 occurred at a time when the national debt was being paid off. In every year from 1920 through 1930, federal revenue exceeded expenses, and there were relatively few government bonds being offered. The massive inflation of the money supply was made possible by converting commercial bank loans into "reserves" at the Fed's discount window and by the Fed's purchase of banker's acceptances, which are commercial contracts for the purchase of goods.

Now the options are even greater. The Monetary Control Act of 1980 has made it possible for the Creature to monetize virtually any debt instrument, including IOUs from foreign governments. The apparent purpose of this legislation is to make it possible to bail out those governments which are having trouble paying the interest on their loans from American banks. When the Fed creates fiat American dollars to give foreign governments in exchange for their worthless bonds, the money path is slightly longer and more twisted, but the effect is similar to the purchase of U.S. Treasury Bonds. The newly created dollars go to the foreign governments, then to the American banks where they become cash reserves. Finally, they flow back into the U.S money pool (multiplied by nine) in the form of additional loans. The cost of the operation once again is born by the American citizen through the loss of purchasing power. Expansion of the money supply, therefore, and the inflation that follows, no longer even require federal deficits. As long as someone is willing to borrow American dollars, the cartel will have the option of creating those dollars specifically to purchase their bonds and, by so doing, continue to expand the money supply.

We must not forget, however, that one of the reasons the Fed was created in the first place was to make it possible for Congress to spend without the public knowing it was being taxed. Americans have shown an amazing indifference to this fleecing, explained undoubtedly by their lack of understanding of how the Mandrake Mechanism works. Consequently, at the present time, this cozy contract between the banking cartel and the politicians is in little danger of being altered. As a practical matter, therefore, even though the Fed may also create fiat money in exchange for commercial debt and for bonds of foreign governments, its major concern likely will be to continue supplying Congress.

The implications of this fact are mind boggling. Since our money supply, at present at least, is tied to the national debt, to pay off that debt would cause money to disappear. Even to seriously reduce it would cripple the economy. Therefore, as long as the Federal Reserve exists, America will be, must be, in debt.

The purchase of bonds from other governments is accelerating in the present political climate of internationalism. Our own money supply increasingly is based upon their debt as well as ours, and they, too, will not be allowed to pay it off even if they are able.


While it is true that the Mandrake Mechanism is responsible for the expansion of the money supply, the process also works in reverse. Just as money is created when the Federal Reserve purchases bonds or other debt instruments, it is extinguished by the sale of those same items. When they are sold, the money is given back to the System and disappears into the inkwell or computer chip from which it came. Then, the same secondary ripple effect that created money through the commercial banking system causes it to be withdrawn from the economy. Furthermore, even if the Federal Reserve does not deliberately contract the money supply, the same result can and often does occur when the public decides to resist the availability of credit and reduce its debt. A man can only be tempted to borrow, he cannot be forced to do so.

There are many psychological factors involved in a decision to go into debt that can offset the easy availability of money and a low interest rate: A downturn in the economy, the threat of civil disorder, the fear of pending war, an uncertain political climate, to name just a few. Even though the Fed may try to pump money into the economy by making it abundantly available, the public can thwart that move simply by saying no, thank you. When this happens, the olds debts that are being paid off are not replaced by new ones to take their place, and the entire amount of consumer and business debt will shrink. That means the money supply also will shrink, because, in modern America, debt is money. And it is this very expansion and contraction of the monetary pool -- a phenomenon that could not occur if based upon the laws of supply and demand -- that is at the very core of practically every boom and bust that has plagued mankind throughout history.

In conclusion, it can be said that modern money is a grand illusion conjured by the magicians of finance in politics. We are living in an age of fiat money, and it is sobering to realize that every previous nation in history that has adopted such money eventually was economically destroyed by it. Furthermore, there is nothing in our present monetary structure that offers any assurances that we may be exempted from that morbid roll call.

Correction. There is one. It is still within the power of Congress to abolish the Federal Reserve System.

by G Edward Griffin


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a related note, here's an article called the Jeckyll Island Story that gives the abridged version of the story, but also links to the entire "The Creature from Jekyll Island".

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Ankit Gupta said...

Thanks for posting this. It brings up a few questions/thoughts:

1. This inherently relies on people, or rather businesses run by people, to always be operating with greater amounts of debt. It also means that in order for this system to work, we must continuously have people who can put all of those dollars to work. If the lending didn't occur, people would in fact be hording money when they spent less than they earned and creating the need for an increase in the velocity of money in order to keep from deflation.

2. Why should dollars enter the market through government spending? Wouldn't just simply handing each person $X be a better way of having dollars enter the economic system?

3. Does this also mean that over time, the amount our economy rises and amount it falls will become greater? The debt system relies on continued and increasing use of debt over time, but if deleveraging ever occurs, then the distance down will be greater. This might be where FDIC protection comes into play so that we don't have a "run on the banks" like we did with the Great Depression, but it still seems like a risk. You really have to keep people using debt continuously and in greater amounts for this to all work.

4:11 PM  

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