–Monetary Sovereignty: The key to understanding economics

Only two things keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders

Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.” ====================================================================

Perhaps no words more accurately and succinctly illustrate the confusion about economics than “Monetary Sovereignty.”

It is not a theory or a hypothesis or a philosophy. In its essence it merely is a description of the way federal financing actually works.

A Monetarily Sovereign government has the exclusive and unlimited power to create its sovereign currency. Monetary Sovereignty is the foundation of economics.

The United States is Monetarily Sovereign. It has the exclusively unlimited power to create the dollar.

China, Canada, Australia, the UK and Japan are Monetarily Sovereign. They have the exclusively unlimited power to create their sovereign currencies.

The U.S. government created the very first dollar from thin air, by first creating from thin air, all the laws and rules that made the dollar possible.

Being sovereign over the dollar, the U.S. can do anything it wishes with the dollar. It can make the dollar equal to three euros, two pumpkins or one partridge in a pear tree.

The federal government’s sovereignty over the dollar is unlimited.

Image result for bernanke and greenspan
It’s our little secret. Don’t tell the people we don’t need or use their tax dollars.

Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

Alan Greenspan: “Central banks can issue currency, a non-interest-bearing claim on the government, effectively without limit. A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”

St. Louis Federal Reserve: “As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational.

Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago are monetarily NON-sovereign. The dollar is not their sovereign currency, and they do not have the unlimited power to create dollars.

France, Germany, and Italy are monetarily non-sovereign. They do not have the exclusively unlimited power to create the currency they use, the euro. That power is owned by the European Union.

You, your business, and I also are monetarily non-sovereign. Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do not have the unlimited power to create dollars. They are monetarily non-sovereign.

Because our Monetarily Sovereign nation has the unlimited power to create its sovereign currency, it never needs to ask anyone for dollars.

It doesn’t need to tax or borrow, and it never can be forced into insolvency. It can pay any dollar-denominated invoice of any size at any time.

In fact, the federal government creates money by paying its bills. The U.S. has created many trillions of dollars, simply by pressing computer keys, and it will continue to do so. It does not “owe” anyone for creating these dollars.

The U.S. government cannot live beyond its means; it has no means to live beyond. By contrast, if the debts of France, Germany et al, exceed their ability to obtain euros they, as monetarily non-sovereign nations, could be forced into insolvency.

They did not create the euro, nor do they have the unlimited ability to pay euro-denominated bills.

Everything you believe about your personal finances — debts, deficits, spending, affordability, saving, and budgeting — are inappropriate to U.S. federal finances.

For this reason, your personal intuition about U.S. financing likely is wrong.

Because the U.S. cannot be forced into insolvency, none of this nation’s agencies can be forced into insolvency. The U.S Supreme Court, the Department of Defense, Congress, Social Security, Medicare, and any of the other 1,300 federal agencies cannot become insolvent unless the federal government wishes it.

(All the talk about Social Security or Medicare running short of dollars is misguided. Even if FICA were eliminated, Social Security and Medicare would not need to default on their obligations, unless Congress wished itThey could pay benefits, forever.)

The unlimited ability to create money is an uncontested fact for Monetarily Sovereign nations although, at any given time, economic growth, inflation, deflation, recession, depression, and social factors may influence a nation’s decision to create money.

A Monetarily Sovereign nation even can choose to declare insolvency, for various reasons, but this would be an arbitrary matter of choice, not a forced necessity.

An example would be Congress’s failure to raise the debt ceiling. This could force the U.S. into insolvency.

There are those who do not (or do not wish to) understand the implications of Monetary Sovereignty. You never will see that term on such debt hawk websites as The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” or the Concord Coalition.

If you go to those sites you will see federal debt described in the same terms as personal debt – as an unsustainable obligation.

While debt can be unsustainable for you, me, businesses, states, cities, counties, and the monetarily non-sovereign EU nations, no dollar debt is unsustainable for the U.S. government.

Debt hawks suffer from Anthropomorphic economics disease — the false belief that federal finances are like yours and mine.

The U.S. was not always completely Monetarily Sovereign. Prior to 1971, the U.S was on a gold standard. It had a sovereign currency, but it did not give itself the unlimited ability to create that currency, since every dollar needed to be backed by an arbitrary amount of gold. No gold; no dollars.

The amount of gold needed to back the dollar was arbitrarily determined by Congress and the President, and that requirement could be changed at any time by Congress and the President, a fact often forgotten by gold lovers.

In effect, even while on a gold standard, the dollar actually was backed by federal fiat, not by gold.

The EU nations are on a euro standard. Their ability to create euros is limited by law.

Our states, counties, and cities are on a dollar standard. Their ability to create or obtain money by borrowing or taxing is limited by local law, by voters, and by lenders.

The financial problems of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (The PIIGS), are due not to deficits and debt.

These nations’ financial problems are due to them having surrendered the single most valuable asset any nation can own — their Monetary Sovereignty — thus preventing them from servicing their debt by creating money.

Some debt hawks say that a Debt/GDP ratio exceeding 100% puts a nation on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet today, Japan has a Debt/GDP ratio above 200%, and this Monetarily Sovereign nation has absolutely no difficulty servicing its debt.

When the U.S. exceeds that magical 100% ratio, it too will have no trouble servicing its obligations.

The debt hawks, as usual, having learned nothing from this, continue to wail about the meaningless Debt/GDP ratio, which because it is a classic apples/oranges comparison, is devoid of significance (the numerator is a 200-year measure of cumulative T-securities outstanding; the denominator is a one-year measure of productivity. The two are unrelated). So-called federal “debt” is nothing more than the total of dollars deposited in T-securities accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank. These accounts essentially are savings accounts.

To “pay off” the federal debt, the Federal Reserve Bank merely debits these T-securities accounts and credits holders’ checking accounts, the same way your personal bank transfers dollars from your savings account to your checking account. No new dollars needed.

Thus, Congress easily could eliminate all federal debt,  tomorrow. That would require pressing a few computer keys. It would be a simple asset exchange, with no new money created and no inflation consequences. Because a Monetarily Sovereign nation has the unlimited ability to create its sovereign currency, that nation needs neither to tax nor to borrow. Why would it? Further, that nation does not use tax money or borrowed money to pay for spending. Federal income has no relationship to federal spending and so, taxes and borrowing are unnecessary.

When the states, counties, cities, you and I spend, we transfer dollars from our checking accounts to some other checking accounts. When the federal government spends, it creates new dollars.

To pay its bills, the government sends instructions (not dollars) to creditors’ banks, instructing the banks to increase the dollar amount in creditors’ checking accounts. These instructions are in the form of checks or wires. At the moment the bank obeys those instructions, dollars are created, and the money supply is increased. This is how the federal government creates dollars — not by “printing,” but by sending instructions.

If U.S. federal taxes and borrowing fell to $0, or rose to $100 trillion, neither event would reduce by even one penny, the federal government’s ability to create the money to pay any size bills.

Although Monetarily Sovereign nations need neither to tax nor to borrow, they may choose to do so for reasons unrelated to financial need.

The spending by Monetarily Sovereign nations had been constrained only by inflation. However, since 1971, the end of the gold standard and the beginning of Monetary Sovereignty, there has been no relationship between federal deficit spending and inflation.

More about this at Inflation and at SUMMARY.

Because taxes do not pay for federal spending, FICA does not pay for Social Security benefits. FICA could (and should) be reduced to zero, and benefits even could be tripled, and this would not affect by even one penny the federal government’s ability to pay Social Security benefits.

Recently, the federal government made a profit on its purchase and sale of corporate stock (GM et al). All such profits came out of the economy, and therefore the government’s profits were recessive — harmful to the economy and useless for the federal government.

By reducing the money supply, federal profits = losses for the economy.

Federal surpluses = economic losses.

On occasion, the federal government has “saved” money by firing, or reducing the pay of, federal employees. Those so-called “savings” would be money not sent into the economy, and therefore, are recessive.

The federal government, having the unlimited ability to create dollars, does not need to “save” dollars.

Politicians and the press do not yet seem to understand Monetary Sovereignty. However, no one intelligently can discuss national deficits and debt without acknowledging the implications of Monetarily Sovereignty.

The concept is the basis for all modern economics. Monetary Sovereignty is to economics as arithmetic is to mathematics.

The next time you go to any economics blog or website, see if the contributors understand Monetarily Sovereignty and use it in their discussions.

If they do, it might be a good site. If they don’t, the site is worthless. All debt hawk objections revolve around just two questions:

  1. How much money can the federal government create? Answer: Infinite
  2. How much money should the federal government create? Answer: As much as necessary to grow the economy and to narrow the gap between the rich and the rest.

Despite an astounding 50,000% increase in the federal debt since 1971, we are not anywhere near the point where deficits could cause uncontrollable inflation (which is partly controlled short term via interest rates but longer term via procurement and distribution of scarce goods and services).

As of this writing, we are closer to fighting deflation than inflation. Ironically, the best cure for inflation is more federal deficit spending. The reason: Inflations are caused by shortages, usually of food and/or energy. Additional federal spending can cure the shortages that cause inflation.

Thus, most of our economic problems are caused by the politicians, the media, the economists, and the public not recognizing the implications of Monetary Sovereignty.

By crippling the federal government’s ability to grow the U.S. economy, the politicians have injured more Americans than terrorists.

I suggest you next read the data at Summary, for detailed answers to your questions.

Question of the day: How does a tax increase or spending decrease reduce unemployment or grow the economy? Answer: When the federal government taxes, dollars are removed from the economy.

When the federal government spends, dollars are added to the economy. A federal deficit is income for the economy.

Therefore, both a tax increase and a spending decrease reduce money growth in the economy.

Because GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports, a reduction in money growth reduces economic growth.

Money is the lifeblood of an economy. Cutting the federal deficit to cure a recession is like applying leeches to cure anemia. [For more on this subject, see: Free Lunch]


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell [ Monetary Sovereignty, Twitter: @rodgermitchell, Search: #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell ]


  • Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  • Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps: Ten Steps To Prosperity:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

–How President Obama’s National bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform could destroy America

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

Parade Magazine, in its 7/4/10 “Intelligence Report”, printed an interview by Steven Beschloss and Janet Kinosian titled, “Can These Men Fix the Deficit?” The men are Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a former Republican Senate whip. Today, Messrs. Bowles and Simpson are co-chairs of President Obama’s National bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Here, with my comments, are what they said:

BOWLES: “If we don’t solve the (federal) debt problem, we will be paying $1 trillion in interest in 2020. That’s money we can’t spend on Social Security, Medicare, education, infrastructure or innovation to make sure America is competitive in a global economy.”

RMM: “Of course, he’s dead wrong. America is a monetarily sovereign nation. Future spending is restricted neither by past spending, by debt, by deficits nor by tax collections. That $1 trillion in interest will function as an economic stimulus. This is classic cognitive inconsistency. Mr. Bowles believes the government cannot do what he sees with his own eyes, the government actually doing, i.e spending trillions on stimulus plans, despite debt that has grown more than 1,500% in only 30 years. In addition to cognitive inconsistency, he suffers from anthropomorphic economic disease – the mistaken belief that the government’s finances are like yours and mine.

BOWLES: “We’re looking at how we can reduce discretionary spending – things like education, transportation, the military, homeland security – and mandatory spending which includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We also need to raise revenue.”

RMM: He believes that cutting back on education, transportation, the military, homeland security, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while raising taxes, will “make sure America is competitive in a global economy.” The notion would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

SIMPSON: “We’re not going to cut Social Security – we’re going to stabilize it. None of the ideas that have been presented will affect anyone over the age of 58.”

RMM: “Stabilize” is political double talk for, “We are going to cut Social Security for everyone 58 and younger.”

SIMPSON: “As it is, it (Social Security) can’t sustain itself.”

RMM: Ah, the old (and false) “unsustainable” claim.

BOWLES: “We’re going to work our hearts out succeed.”

RMM: In their world, “Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” are code words for austerity, which always causes recessions and depressions. Heaven help us from those who have power, yet cannot learn.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity