Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Chop Off Their Hands . . .

President Truman famously called for a one handed economist. The Carolingian kings of France would have accommodated him. They realised that a kingdom required a common currency under the control of the king and well regulated markets to sustain the confidence of the people.

At first mints were established widely, spread across the kingdom. Local barons began to profit from debasing the coinage, undermining confidence in the monetary system. So Charles the Bald established mints under his direct control and regulated the issue of coins:
C.12. Following the custom of our predecessors, just as it is found in their capitularies, we decree that in no other place in all our kingdom shall money be made except in our palace, and in St. Josse and Rouen, which right in the past belonged to St. Josse, and in Rheims, Sens, Paris, Orleans, Chalon-sur-Saone, Melle, and Narbonne.

C.13. And those who have control of the money, with no desire for favor or gain, should select faithful coiners, as if they were seeking our favor and the grace of God. And the coiners should themselves take oaths that they will perform their office faithfully, as well as they know how. And they should not coin a denarius of mixed metal nor one of light weight, nor should they consent to such a thing. And, without any deception or evil disposition towards those whose silver they accept for purifying, they should cleanse the silver, and without practicing any deception in weighing it, they should change the purified silver into denarii. If it be reported that any one has acted contrary to his oath, he will be tried by the judgment of God; and if it be proved that he acted contrary to his oath he will lose his hand just as was decreed for false coiners in book four of the capitularies, chapter thirty-three, and as a sacrilegious person and despoiler of the poor he will be subjected to public penance by order of the bishop;---for he committed no greater fraud if he coined a denarius of mixed metal or of light weight than he would have done by taking the silver of the State, or of the Church, or of the poor, in purging and coining silver with evil intent. In those regions where trials are conducted according to Roman law, he will be tried in accordance with that law.

C.18. And if a false coiner from those places, in which we have decreed that money shall be made, stamps money secretly or offers a false denarius in a business transaction, so that he cannot be caught and punished; he will be seized by our minister, just as has been decreed, if he seeks refuge in our fisc, in any privileged place, or on the estate of any powerful person whatsoever.

C.19. In order that this provision for the non-rejection of good denarii, and concerning the making of false denarii, might be better observed, we wish that every overseer cause the markets of his district to be catalogued, that he report to us what markets there were in the time of our grandfather, and what new ones began in the time of our father, and what were established by his authority, and what markets began to come into existence in our own time, which of them remained in their ancient locations, and, if they had been changed, by whose authority they had been changed.
Modern states gave control of monetary policy and markets to the barons of global finance. The experiment has resulted in the same disasterous outcomes as before. The barons have debased the coinage and corrupted the markets. The state lost control of the currency as central banks allowed the barons in banks and shadow banks to "create" money from securitisation and quantitative easing. The state lost control of markets as the SEC, FSA and others allowed those same barons to set up alternative trading platforms beyond any public scrutiny and to bastardise public exchanges with algorithmic trading and synthetic instruments priced against fraudulent reference rates.

Now that the whole system is falling apart, banks and bondholders - the robber barons and false coiners of our times - want to take more money from depositors and taxpayers to prop it up. The state, the taxpayers and the depositors should not be compelled to protect bank bondholders. Central bankers and market regulators should stop being complicit in debasement of the currency and corruption of the markets - taking the silver of the state and of the poor.

Enough already. Chop off their hands.