2007 - 2021

Currency Matters

An Open Letter from senior Economists ahead of the SNP conference.
International economists have urged SNP members to back a new Scottish currency ahead of the debate at the partys conference tomorrow. Signing a letter opposing Sterlingisation, the esteemed economists argue that the Growth Commission proposal would hinder a progressive economic platform:

“In recent months there has been debate and criticism of the Sustainable Growth Commission. There are several areas of concern, ranging from currency choice and deficit reduction to the implementation of a Green New Deal, recently raised by Nicola Sturgeon.

We are gravely concerned about the direction the Growth Commission would take us. The report reheats much of the failed economic orthodoxy that has led to the present economic and social crisis, stemming from the 2008 financial crash.

The present position of the SNP leadership on currency which supports Sterlingisation follows the framework set out by the Growth Commission’s six tests. These tests are obstacles to developing an independent currency, and would leave Scotland without control of fiscal and monetary policy and the capacity to float an independent exchange rate. This means Scotland would, under current UK economic settings, be unable to develop a long term, investment led economic strategy.

Furthermore, the poverty and inequality that scars Scottish life and the climate emergency we face will not be addressed by the Growth Commission proposals which entrench failed thinking on these matters.

It is of the utmost importance that SNP members attending conference are clear sighted about these issues. In particular we insist that they remove the six currency tests, to then build a visionary and progressive platform that can bring about the necessary economic transformation needed for the challenges of the 21st Century.”

Bill Mitchell, Professor of Economics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia .

Richard Murphy, Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, City, University of London.

Dr Steven Hail, Economics lecturer and author of “Economics of Sustainable Equality”.
Warren Mosler, American economist, hedge fund founder and co-founder of the Center for Full Employment And Price Stability at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Fadhel Kaboub, President of the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and Associate Professor of economics at Denison University.
Earlier this year saw the launch of a new economic think MMT Scotland. Their board of advisors, including advisor to Bernie Sanders Stephanie Kelton, opposes Sterlingisation.

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  1. Stone Elworthy says:

    I’ve no problem with Scotland choosing independence if that is what they want but I’m vehemently against my country being in a currency union with any other country. I’d support the UK taking bold actions to help Scotland establish their own excellent currency system if they choose independence. Just as currency converted when countries joined the Euro, bank accounts, bank reserves and debts in an independent Scotland could switch to being denominated in Scottish currency. Likewise Scotland’s share of the UK treasury debt could also switch to being denominated in Scottish currency. Obviously people who bought outstanding UK treasury debt did so on the understanding that it was sterling denominated. It would be well worth avoiding compromising the UK treasury debt market. However £375Bn of UK treasury debt is owned by the Bank of England as a consequence of the quantitative easing activity of recent years. That UK treasury debt on the Bank of England’s balance sheet has a counterpart in the form of bank reserves and those have a counterpart in the form of customer bank deposits. Upon Scottish independence, all of the bank reserves that switched from being sterling denominated to being denominated in Scottish currency could be mirrored by debt transferred from the Bank of England to a new Scottish central bank and switched into being denominated in Scottish currency. There would nevertheless still be some remaining share of the debt to deal with. To my mind the best approach would be for new Scottish currency denominated debt to be issued and transferred to the UK government’s foreign currency reserves. So the UK government would keep more than its “fair share” of the UK treasury debt liabilities but it would be compensated with new Scottish treasury debt that would be serviced with interest payments payable in Scottish currency. Scotland would then have a robust sovereign monetary system allowing the Scottish government to facilitate an effective Scottish economy. It would also avoid leaving the remaining UK short-changed and ensure that Scotland provided us with a prosperous trading partner.

  2. Robert Hill says:

    The loss of the last independence referendum was largely down to the timidity of Alex Salmond in pursuing a fudged currency option. We should certainly not do this the second time or once again the referendum will be lost to the unionists.

  3. Me Bungo Pony says:

    While I largely agree with the points being put by the experts above, I believe the case being put by the FM, the amendments being put forward at the SNP conference AND the Common Weal currency plan already give us a strong argument when it comes to this issue. In the last Indyref, the lack of a well defined Plan B was the stick they beat the indy currency argument to death with. An amended Growth Commission option (minus the six tests – whatever they are – I’ve not found them yet) with a definite plan to move to a Scottish Pound/Crown/Merk as soon as possible is not too dissimilar to the Common Weal policy anyway. Whichever of the policies being put to the SNP conference is decided upon, the Common Weal policy shows that, should it be necessary, there is a well thought out alternative available that, to my mind, could be put in place in pretty short order. Just as Slovakia initially kept a currency union with the Czech Republic but very shortly afterwards decided to set up its own currency. Something it accomplished in a matter of weeks.

  4. Derek Henry says:

    There are 2 large Elephants in the room that nobody in Scotland wants to talk about and these should also be at the forefront of the debate and tackled head on and MMT economists along with MMT Scotland should be leading this debate as they are the experts. They are teaching mainstream economists every day how the monetary system actually works

    1) What to do with the commercial banks and how to set up the central bank.

    Independence isn’t enough or our own currency what we do with the commercial banks and how we set up our central bank are just as important. Don’t let anyone tell you they know what to do with both apart from Warren Mosler. Warren is the only person I know of who can set these up the way they need to be.

    2) The EU

    An independent Scotland has to keep an arms length away from the EU. The current SNP position of trying to steal remain voters and wanting to be at the heart of Europe and join the single market and customs union is economic suicide. It’s a faux independence and Scottish voters have to start to recognise that the Stability and growth Pact, the 6 pack, 2 pack and excessive debt proceedure and EU neoliberal treaties are the foundation stones of the Growth Comission failures. The seeds used that produced everything wrong with the Growth Comission.

    It’s no use being open and honest about the failures of the growth comission then completely ignore the adject failures of the Eurozone and the European union. You are not only lying to yourselves but what’s even worse is you are lying to the people of Scotland.

    The 22 “advisory groups” that the ECB maintains. They have “517 representatives from 144 different entities: either corporations, companies or associations, mainly trade associations.” All groups but one are completely dominated by financial corporations, and the number of seats taken by the private financial sector is an astonishing 98 per cent (508 out of 517).

    What was and still is at work is an Orwellian strategy of rhetorical deception to represent finance and other rentier sectors as being part of the economy, not external to it. This is precisely the strategy that parasites in nature use to deceive their hosts that they are not free riders but part of the host’s own body, deserving careful protection.

    1) To reduce economies to debt dependency, to transfer public utilities into creditor hands, and then to create a rent-extracting tollbooth economy.

    2) The financial objective is to block governments from writing down debts when bankers and bondholders over-lend.

    3) Taken together, these policies create a one-sided freedom for rentiers to create a travesty of the classical “Adam Smith” view of free markets. It is a freedom to reduce the indebted majority to a state of deepening dependency, and to gain wealth by stripping public assets built up over the centuries.

  5. Derek Henry says:

    The idea that the euro has “failed” is dangerously naive.

    The euro is doing exactly what the bankers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

    Removing a government’s control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession. It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians. Without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.

    Currency union is class war by other means and given rise to the SNP and populism everywhere you look.

    Bank-friendly writers and lobbyists fostered a myth that the economy needed its investment banks to remain solvent to keep the economy functioning. But many former officials, including Bair, Neil Barofsky, and Reagan Administration budget director David Stockman, rejected the claims that public guarantees for reckless bank loans was needed to protect insured depositors. Retail savings and current accounts were never threatened by the bad gambles that banks made. But this myth had to be promoted in order for Paulson, Geithner Bernanke and other bank protectors to persuade Congress to overrule Bair and make governments pay.

    Their aim was to save the banks from being nationalised, and to protect bankers from being prosecuted for fraud or reining in the exorbitant salaries and bonuses they had given themselves. No attempt was made to change the system that had led to the crash.

    The return to classical bank policy would deem loans fraudulent and annul debts when creditors do not lend with any reasonable calculation of how the debt can be paid in the normal course of economic life. Loans made without such a calculation should be considered predatory. The natural check on such behavior is to permit mortgage debtors to walk away from their homes, free of the debts attached to them, letting title revert to the banks that over-lent in the first place.

    The banks seek to shift responsibility onto the financial victims (“the madness of crowds”). Governments are blamed for running deficits, despite the fact that they result mainly from tax favoritism to the rentiers. Having used FICA paycheck withholding as a ploy to cut progressive tax rates on themselves since the 1980s, the rentiers blame the indebted population for living longer and creating a “retirement problem” by collecting the Social Security and pensions.

    The financial mode of conquest against labour and industry is as devastating today as in the Roman Republic’s Social War that marked its transition to Empire in the 1st century BC. It was the dynamics of debt above all that turned the empire into a wasteland, reducing the population to debt bondage and outright slavery. Livy, Plutarch and other Roman historians placed the blame for their epoch’s collapse on creditors.

    Tacitus reports the words of the Celtic chieftain Calgacus, c. 83 AD, rousing his troops by describing the empire they were to fight against: Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land. If the enemy is rich, they are rapacious; if he is poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them.To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire. They make a wasteland and call it peace.

  6. Derek Henry says:


    The other elephant in the room that NOBODY wants to talk about. One of the EU four prisons.

    Europe’s war against debtor countries was turning into class war, which always ends up being waged on the political battlefield as we’ve all seen with the rise of populism. One IMF analyst noted that the money raised for putting up islands and public buildings, ports and the water system for sale “will barely put a dint in Greece’s now-unpayable public debt.”

    Creditors simply hoped to take as much as they could, in the absence of public protests to stop the selloffs. That is why bankers resort to anti-democratic methods in opposing any political power independent of creditor interests. The aim is to centralise financial policy in the hands of “technocrats” drawn from the banking sector – not only Lucas Papademos in Greece, but also Mario Monti in Italy.

    The fear is that democratically elected officials will act “irresponsibly,” that is, in the interests of the economy at large rather than catering to the demands of banks and bondholders.

    The acquisition of power soon leads to its abuse, to economic and social hubris. By seeking to protect its gains, perpetuate itself and make its wealth hereditary, the emergence of a power elite locks in its position in ways that exclude and injure those below. The wealthy indebt them, shift the tax burden onto the less powerful, and turn governments into an oligarchy.

    This has led pro-creditor economists to exclude the history of economic thought from the curriculum. Mainstream economics has become censorially pro-creditor, pro-austerity and anti-government except for insisting on the need for government bailouts of the largest banks and savers. Yet it has captured Congressional policy, universities and the mass media to broadcast a false map of how economies work. So most people see reality as it is written and distorted – by the One Percent. It is a travesty of reality.

    Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted.

    The IMF which is nothing more than a lobbying arm for Wall Street, The City Of London and Frankfurt have told Greece they have to run government budget surpluses for the next 50 years. Which in Greek government accounting terms means the non government sector which include Greek households, businesses have to run deficits for the next 50 years. Forcing more Greek households and businesses to take on more debt keeping the bankers happy.

    I give them less than a decade before the whole thing implodes again unless they chase the IMF out of Greece. Then the ECB will just threaten to turn off the tap of Euro’s again forcing the Greeks to surrender.

  7. Derek Henry says:

    Wall Street and the City of London and Frankfurt scream for balanced budgets or budget surpluses. So the banks can allocate resources and the banks can be the main issuer of the currency. We don’t want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatised in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatised enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for hitherto public services.

    This idea that governments should not create money from thin air implies that they shouldn’t act like governments. Instead, the de facto government should be Wall Street and the City of london. Instead of governments allocating resources to help the economy grow, the commercial banks should be the allocator of resources – and should starve the government to save the wealthy. Starve the government to a point where it can be drowned in the bathtub and which is what austerity and neoliberalism is really all about.

    Allowing the commercial banks to control the money supply they then proceed to privatise the economy, they can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. They can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly. Instead of providing free or subsidised schooling, they can make people pay for it to get a college education. They can turn the roads into toll roads. They can charge people for water, and they can charge for what used to be given for free under the old style of Roosevelt capitalism and social democracy.

    Which now means a large and increasing % of our wages are paid directly to landlords and the economic rent seekers.

    The people of Scotland have to drop this obsession that somehow the EU are left wing and will save them. The people of Scotland have to take a step back and understand you can easily have your own currency thinking you are independent and sovereign but still be fooled into a debtors prison which is no independence at all.

    The EU have to be kept at arms length if Scotland ever gains independence or all that would happen is Scotland would be swapping one currency slave owner master for another. Huge swathes of the 60% that voted to remain in the EU are simply oblivious to these facts. they have been fooled to believe the EU are on their side. Choose to ignore what is happening in France, Greece and Italy and HUGE rise of populism across Europe who are people just like them tying to break free from the bankers that now control Europe.

  8. Derek Henry says:

    Taken from Common Space

    “Kirsty Hughes, Director of the pro-EU Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER), has argued that Sterlingisation would make EU membership difficult, due to “divergence” with the EU rulebook.

    Writing on SCER’s website on Friday, Hughes said: “Scotland would also be unlikely to get any opt-out from the euro, so it would have to commit to eventually joining the euro (although once in the EU, this process could be put off indefinitely). But the currency debate comes to the fore here. If Scotland had kept the pound sterling, but the UK was outside the EU, then Scotland would not be able to demonstrate that it could commit to join the euro at some indefinite future point. Nor – if it took up to a decade to adopt its own currency – could it show that as a member state it would use its independent monetary policy to target price stability and make its exchange rate a ‘matter of common concern’ with other member states (as required by the EU’s Lisbon treaty). So this would be a significant political challenge.”

    Kirsty Hughes should be stopped at all costs. The SNP and Kirsty Hughes will sleepwalk Scotland into a neoliberal globalist nightmare if Scotland was to gain independence. As more and more voters in countries within the EU are taking a step back from the EU’s neoliberal globalist vision. Kirsty Hughes wnats to march head long into the centre of it.

    Complete and utter madness !!!!

  9. Me Bungo Pony says:

    Genuinely impressed by Mr Henry’s “opus”. It all makes perfect sense. However, it is hard to see how an independent Scotland, out with the EU, can change things.

    It is not so long ago that the EU was seen as a left wing organisation that was making Europe uncompetitive (in the eyes of neo-liberals) by insisting on worker’s rights, health and safety, trading standards, etc. That gradually changed as neo-liberals gained power within the government’s of Europe and began to change the mood music.

    If you want to change that back to a tune that benefits “ordinary people”, then only a place at the top table where you can exert influence will do. Ranting and waving at behemoths like the EU, USA and China from a position of “splendid isolation” will gain us nothing and, no doubt, see us eventually and impotently subsumed in any case. Gosh that’s depressing. Better to be in there fighting than taking ourselves off in a huff, in the hope they all leave us alone.

    Finally, Mr Henry wrote;

    “Huge swathes of the 60% that voted to remain in the EU are simply oblivious to these facts. they have been fooled to believe the EU are on their side. Choose to ignore what is happening in France, Greece and Italy and HUGE rise of populism across Europe who are people just like them tying to break free from the bankers that now control Europe”.

    I would suggest that the vast majority of those who comprise “the huge rise in populism across Europe” are just as “oblivious to these facts” as those who voted Remain. Their main concerns are far less laudable. You only HAVE to look at who leads and panders to them. Nigel Farage, Marie Le Pen, Jacob Rees Mogg, Alternative Fur Deutschland, the Northern League, Donald Trump, the English Defence League, Golden Dawn, etc. None are exactly going to “smash the neo-liberal cabal”. Most of them are well ensconced within the “neo-liberal cabal”. To them, the EU is a barrier to making even more money from their own neo-liberal instincts, free from the “shackles” of pan-European standards that currently reign them in.

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      PS Don’t know why “HAVE” is in capitals. It wasn’t meant to be

    2. Stone Elworthy says:

      I’m not Scottish so please excuse me commenting on this but the same general principle applies to citizens of all small countries. I believe that the best way for citizens of small countries (or even large ones) to influence world issues is to set an example. If Scotland shows that it is possible to organise into a prosperous, harmonious, environmentalist etc/whatever nation, then that will inspire people of other nations to follow that example and copy the institutional arrangements that enabled that.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        Hi Stone. The two methods are not mutually exclusive. They actually complement each other. Lobby at the top table while setting examples at home.

        1. Stone Elworthy says:

          I suppose it all depends on the extent to which being part of something such as the EU limits your ability to run things at home in a way that you consider is likely to work best. The very fact that the other countries also have a place “at the top table” (as you put it) within the EU, means that each country is limited in its scope for trying things out as it sees fit and instead has to go along with what the other countries consider best. Greece is a particularly tragic example of mismanagement of one EU country by the rest of the EU. To be honest, I struggle to get my head around advocates of Scottish independence who simultaneously are ardent EU remainers. I realise that’s a widely held combination of views though.

          1. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Brexit has proved that sovereignty always lies with the individual, independent member states. That you choose to share some of it is a good thing. That you can unilaterally take it all back when you deem it necessary is also a good thing. Its what being independent is all about. Currently, Scotland’s sovereignty is held by Westminster and if we want it back we have to ask nicely and hope the Tory Govt (as it will inevitably be) will not just laugh in our face. Its what not being independent is all about.

    3. Armenian Scot says:

      Why doesn’t Mr Henry stand for office, he knows moe than the politicians presently wading through this economic treacle.

      All so called centralized banking is about control, just look at the Federal Reserve…they want to control the money and pretend we are being prudent when supplies slow down; they rely on most of us being idiots, me included, to sleepwalk democracy away.

  10. Derek Henry says:

    Remain and reform is a fantasy they been trying for over 45 years and all they have got through is ban smoking in pubs. Nobody can point to one progressive reform in over 45 years all the reforms have been in the other direction.

    The way the EU is set up you would need EVERY leader to be like Jeremy Corbyn or Nicola Sturgeon and Jean Luc Mechelon and then the impossible task of all of them winning right across Europe at the same time.

    All the leaders of the left across Europe are not from the left they are liberals like Blair with some from the left actually being right of centre.

    Amidst growing popular dissatisfaction, social unrest, and mass unemployment (in various European countries), political elites on both sides of the Atlantic responded with business-as-usual policies and discourses. As a result, the social contract binding citizens to traditional ruling is more strained today than at any other time since World War II – and in some countries has arguably already snapped, as testified by a series of electoral uprisings that, despite their differences, all share a common target: globalisation, neoliberalism, and the political establishments that have promoted them.

    The simple fact is that right-wing forces have been much more effective than left-wing or progressive forces at tapping into the legitimate grievances of the masses disenfranchised, marginalised, impoverished, and dispossessed by the forty-year-long neoliberal class war waged from above. In particular, they are the only forces that have been able to provide a (more or less) coherent response to the widespread – and growing – yearning for greater territorial or national sovereignty, increasingly seen as the only way to regain some degree of collective control over politics and society, in the absence of effective supranational mechanisms of representation. Given neoliberalism’s war against sovereignty, it should come as no surprise that “sovereignty has become the master-frame of contemporary politics”,

    As Paolo Gerbaudo notes. After all, the hollowing out of national sovereignty and curtailment of popular-democratic mechanisms – what has been termed depoliticisation – has been an essential element of the neoliberal project, aimed at insulating macroeconomic policies from popular contestation and removing any obstacles put in the way of economic exchanges and financial flows. In this sense, neoliberalism and globalisation have not entailed a retreat of the state vis-à-vis the market, as most left analyses contend, but rather a reconfiguration of the state, aimed at placing the commanding heights of economic policy “in the hands of capital, and primarily financial interests”,

    As Stephen Gill writes. Given the nefarious effects of depoliticisation, it is only natural that the revolt against neoliberalism should first and foremost take the form of demands for a repoliticisation of national decision-making processes.

    I don’t fear Nigel Farage, Marie Le Pen, Jacob Rees Mogg, Alternative Fur Deutschland, the Northern League, Donald Trump, the English Defence League, Golden Dawn. The reason I don’t fear them is that as soon as they try their policies the economic results will be clear and they’ll be voted out for a generation.

    The progressive left have been asleep for nearly 50 years and these types have stole a march on them as these are the only parties that people right across Europe who want to escape from the bankers can vote for.. Use these useful idiots to take us out allow them to implode and then introduce a true progressive vision that the people are actually looking for.

    I’ve wanted Scottish independence since I was 18 and now I’m nearly 50. I’ve wanted out of the EU since the Mastricht and Lisbon Treaties. I live in Glasgow and now have nobdy to vote for. The logical step is to vote for the Brexit party and once out of the EU then vote for a party in Scotland that offers true independence.

    So I fully understand why millions upon millions of people are now turning to the likes of Nigel Farage, Marie Le Pen, Jacob Rees Mogg, Alternative Fur Deutschland, the Northern League, Donald Trump. They are turning to them to find a voice and a vote that counts.

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      Derek Henry wrote;

      “Use these useful idiots to take us out allow them to implode and then introduce a true progressive vision that the people are actually looking for”.

      You are actually advocating electing these extreme right wing organisations into power in the “expectation” they will “hang themselves” leading to a more enlightened future!!!! Much of what you have written makes a lot of sense …. but that is utter madness. I hate to bring it up, as it is such a cliche, but you do realise that is exactly how the Nazis came to power in the 1930s? You cannot give these people a sniff of power. The consequences would be horrific.

  11. Derek Henry says:

    Small “C” Conservatives don’t go on marches or protest. They organise coffee mornings and neibourhood watch schemes and shop in Sainsbury’s and John Lewis and play bowls and golf. Drink coffee in Starbucks where they get their name on a cup and pop out to the theatre every now and then.

    There are millions upon millions of them right across the UK. They are sharpening their pencils as we speak. A pencil sharperner is how the silent majority protest.

    It won’t happen overnight it will take a few years but I don’t think anybody in Scotland is ready for what is about to happen because the liberal metropolitan elite, Wall Street, The City Of London and Frankfurt have overturned the result of a democratic referendum result.

    Then you have the dyed in the wool unionists that don’t care about anything else who want out of Europe also.

    Then you have the fishing communities that turned Blue the last time.

    There’s a shit storm coming in what form it turns up and how long it will take to turn up I have no idea. The mainstream parties are in for the shock of their lives and why the US ended up with Trump. The SNP are deluded if they think they can run from it.

  12. Derek Henry says:

    The SNP have replaced….

    Scottish voters who have wanted Scottish independence all their lives and want out of the EU because of the Mastricht and Lisbon Treaties.


    Scottish voters who have never wanted independence but want to be run by Brussels.

    Small “C” conservatives, Dyed in the wool unionists and fishing communities haven’t moved an inch. Only question is will they vote for the Tories or the Brexit party but one thing is for sure they’ll vote against the Indy Nicola is offering.

    It’s a recipe for disaster.

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      Disagree with all of that.

      1. Derek Henry says:

        Bungo Pony you should listen to the Nigel Farage show on LBC

        Voters who have voted SNP all their lives are now picking up the phone calling in to Farage and saying they’ll never vote for the SNP again.

        Because Nicola has chosen the wrong strategy.

        SNP voters are running to Farage wether you believe it or not it is already happening and this is just the start.

        1. Me Bungo Pony says:

          And yet support for the SNP is still at record levels, more than double their nearest Unionist rival and more than the Tories and Labour combined. What you are getting phoning into Farage’s nasty little show are angry Leavers who appear more keen on leaving the EU than they are on achieving Scottish independence and leaving the choice of EU membership up to the people of Scotland after that point. We wont be in the EU right after independence and may never be back in it. You can only fight a war one battle at a time. They need to realise that simple fact.

        2. “SNP voters are running to Farage”. Really? Evidence please (hearing someone on a talkshow doesnt count as evidence).

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