The Yellow Vests Get it Right

The Yellow Vests Get it Right by Robert Gore – Straight Line Logic

Financial nuclear warheads.

The mainstream media has degenerated irreparably. Here’s a reliable rule of thumb: if it’s important it’s not covered; if it’s covered it’s not important. Stories in the American mainstream press about Yellow Vest protests have been few. One aspect of the protests, transcendently important, has received scant coverage.

The Yellow Vest protestors have called for a coordinated run on French banks. Whether they realize it or not, they’re playing with nuclear warheads that could annihilate not just the French, but Europe’s and the entire world’s financial system. Because inextricably linked to the ends of contemporary governments―how much they can screw up the lives of those who must live under them—is the question of means―how do they fund their misrule? The short answer is taxes and debt.

Since 1971, when President Nixon 
“temporarily” suspended international convertibility of dollars for gold (it’s never been reinstated), the monetary basis of the global economy has been fiat debt. Neither government or central bank debt nor currencies are tethered to any real constraint, like precious metals (see “Real Money,” SLL). Thus, politicians and monetary officials can create as much debt as they want: debt by fiat.

Government and central bank debt is at the apex of the global debt pyramid. The next tier is commercial banks that have accounts at central banks. Those accounts are bank assets and central bank liabilities, or debts. Central banks expand their fiat liabilities to banks in exchange for banks’ fiat government debt, an exchange called debt monetization, which is a bit of a misnomer since no “Real Money” is involved. The “monetization” is the central bank’s fiat expansion of banks’ accounts with the central bank in exchange for fiat government debt, which expands banks’ assets available for loans to governments, businesses, and individuals.

In “Real Money,” money was defined, in part, as that which has intrinsic value and is not a liability of an individual or entity. This part of the definition is controversial; it invalidates everything we currently think of as money. Popularly accepted definitions are essentially: money is as money does, anything that serves as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account (the other parts of the SLL definition) is money.

However, just because something has monetary functions doesn’t mean it’s money, anymore than using a hairbrush to brush your teeth makes it a toothbrush. While there are some metaphysical questions about the notion of intrinsic value (that term was chosen because it’s shorter and more convenient than saying, “Something to which most people would assign a value apart from its potential value as money,” every time) the important point is that by SLL’s definition, using debt as money, including the debt in your wallet known as Federal Reserve Notes, doesn’t make it money.

Except for the relatively few instances when gold, silver, or other tangible value is used as a medium of exchange in private transactions, everything that is currently used is debt, including currencies. When individuals and businesses make deposits in a bank, they are exchanging one form of debt, usually currency or endorsed checks, for another—the bank’s promise, under a specified set of conditions, to return either currency or a check drawn on the bank.

The depositor is a creditor and the bank is free to loan out the funds deposited. This is the basis of fractional reserve banking, the banking system’s ability to create debt in multiples of amounts deposited. For every $10 deposited, a bank will loan out perhaps $9 and keep $1 in reserve to meet withdrawal requests. The fraction that can be lent out and the fraction that must be kept in reserve are generally specified by government or central bank regulations.

The amount lent out usually finds its way back to the banking system, where it serves as the basis for further lending. For analytical simplicity, introductory economics classes say that within the banking system, any autonomous increase in bank deposits will expand the total loans by the reciprocal of the reserve requirement. If the reserve requirement is 5 percent of bank deposits, an increase in bank deposits will lead to a 20 times expansion of bank loans. Real life is not quite that simple, but it’s a decent approximation.

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Robert Gore

Robert Gore was born in 1958 in Livermore, California. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both his parents worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His undergraduate education was at UCLA. He graduated in 1980 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in economics and political science. He completed the JD/MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1984. He held part-time jobs throughout undergraduate and graduate school. He passed the bar exam and is an inactive member of the California Bar Association. Mr. Gore’s career in finance began in 1984 with a bank in San Francisco, trading municipal bonds. In 1985, he went to a Wall Street firm’s west coast municipal bond office in Los Angeles as a bond trader. He developed its block and institutional sales capabilities and after four years was promoted to manager of the region.