Tag Archives: debt-free money


By L. Randall Wray

In Part Three I argued that the government issues currency as its liability and imposes tax liabilities on its subjects/citizens that can be paid in that currency. When taxes are paid, both the government and its taxpayers are “redeemed”. I cited Innes’s argument that the universal law of credit is that the issuer of a debt must take it back. This is the fundamental notion behind redemption of debts.

To be sure, debt is much older than money. No human has ever escaped debt. At birth, you are indebted to your parents, your kin, and your gods. You spend your lifetime incurring new debts and repaying old debts and accumulating credits that are the debts of others. If you earn enough credits, you join the Redeemer and make it to the Promised Land after death; if you don’t you join Satan—the original tax collector–in hell.

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Sorry that it has taken me a while to get back to my multi-part series on debt-free money. This is the third part of the current series, although I had previously written several other blogs on the related topics of debt-free money, positive money, and 100% money. See links at the bottom.

This post will focus on the concept of “redemption” as the most fundamental requirement of indebtedness. This seems to confuse readers. For example, Eric Lonergan calls this a “fantastic linguistic contortion”, a “pure semantic confusion”, a “hidden definition slipped in between dashes”.

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By L. Randall Wray

My previous blog sparked a lot of discussion, especially over at Naked Capitalism. I do pity Yves Smith! There’s enough nonsense in the commentary to populate a large nation.

As I have argued, it is very hard to figure out what the debt-free money folks want as they are confused on the accounting, vague on the terminology, and rarely provide details on their proposal. However, a reader has directed me to a fine published article that has mostly got the accounting right, lays out a detailed proposal, and contrasts the proposal against alternatives.

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By L. Randall Wray

Some time ago, I labeled the “debt-free money” campaign a non sequitur in search of a policy. (See here.) However, this non sequitur refuses to die. I went on to joke that if they want a debt-free money, they ought to propose that government issue bananas as currency.

I frequently am asked to do interviews and I almost always accept them. However, when I was asked last week to participate in a radio show devoted to debt-free money, I struggled mightily to get out of it. As you’ll see, the program’s producer took my idea of banana republics and ran with it. I thought readers might get a kick out of this exchange (the producer’s emails are in italics, my responses are in bold). After the exchange, I’ll summarize my objections to the notion of debt-free money.

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“Debt-Free Money” and “ZIRP Forever”

By Scott Fullwiler

I wrote a while back about how neoclassical economists don’t realize their view that interest on reserves (IOR) stops “printing money” from being inflationary also means that it’s impossible to create inflation by “printing money.”  See here.

I’m not 100% sure on this one (and please feel free to correct me if you know better than I do) because I admittedly haven’t given the literature a thorough read, but from what I can tell, it appears “debt-free money” advocates may not realize they are similarly overlooking the actual operations of the monetary system.  So, apologies in advance if I’ve misinterpreted.

From what I’ve seen, “debt-free money” (DFM) advocates want a world in which the government spends via cash (i.e., paper money).  They are against government issuing bonds or any interest on the debt, since that would suggest the government’s money isn’t “debt free” (again, please correct me if I’m wrong in this description).

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By L. Randall Wray

While we are on the topic of monetary cranks, I thought it might be useful to quickly address a cranky idea that often comes up in comments to my blogs and also during Q&A after presentations: so-called “debt-free money”.

The first time I heard it, my immediate reaction was “Say what?”, and the second was puzzlement at the non-sequitur.

I am not sure exactly which of the crank approaches explicitly adopt the notion, but it seems common to a lot of them. I’m not going to address any particular approach but instead will address only the idea that we can have a “money” that is not a “debt”.

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Martin Wolf: “Lord Turner Thinks the Unthinkable”

By John Lounsbury
(Cross posted from econintersec.com)

February 13th, 2013

Paul Kasriel alerted me in an email this morning to check out Martin Wolf’s column today (13 February 2013) in the Financial Times.  Wolf’s title:  “A case to reset basis of monetary policy.”  The widely read associate editor and chief economics commentator for FT is one of the world’s most influential writers on economics.  And he often swims at the edge of the mainstream and sometimes thinks completely outside the box that limits many economic thinkers.  So when you want a breath of fresh air, read Martin Wolf.  He can pull heads out of the sand; there isn’t much fresh air in that medium. Continue reading