China’s Creative Accounting: Using Debt as an Instrument of Economic Development

Published on Global Research.ca (first on Web of Dept), by Ellen Brown, 2010-10-30.

China may be as heavily in debt as we are.  It just has a different way of keeping its books — which makes a high-profile political ad sponsored by Citizens Against Government Waste, a fiscally conservative think tank, particularly ironic.  Set in a lecture hall in China in 2030, the controversial ad shows a Chinese professor lecturing on the fall of empires: Greece, Rome, Great Britain, the United States. 

 ”They all make the same mistakes,” he says. “Turning their backs on the principles that made them great. America tried to spend and tax itself out of a great recession. Enormous so-called stimulus spending, massive changes to health care, government takeover of private industries, and crushing debt.”

Of course, he says, because the Chinese owned the debt, they are now masters of the Americans.  The students laugh.  The ad concludes, “You can change the future. You have to” … //

… If the Fed can do it to save the banks, the Treasury can do it to save the taxpayers.  In a paper presented at the American Monetary Institute in September 2010, Prof. Kaoru Yamaguchi showed with sophisticated mathematical models that if done right, paying off the federal debt with debt-free Treasury notes would have a beneficial stimulatory effect on the economy without inflating prices.  

The CAGW ad is correct: we have turned our backs on the principles that made us great.  But those principles are not rooted in “fiscal austerity.”  The abundance that made the American colonies great stemmed from a monetary system in which the government had the power to issue its own money – unlike today, when the only money the government issues are coins.  Dollar bills are issued by the Federal Reserve, a privately owned central bank; and the government has to borrow them like everyone else.  But as Thomas Edison famously said:

“If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. . . . It is a terrible situation when the Government, to insure the National Wealth, must go in debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious value of gold.”

China’s government can direct its banks to advance credit in the national currency as needed, because it owns the banks.  Ironically, the Chinese evidently got that idea from us.  Sun Yat-sen was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln, who avoided a crippling national debt by issuing debt-free Treasury notes during the Civil War; and Lincoln was following the lead of the American colonists, our forebears.  We need to reclaim our sovereign right to fund the common wealth without getting entangled in debt to foreign creditors, through the use of our own government-issued currency and publicly-owned banks. (full text).

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