How money is created

Earlier today, I banned the commenter “map” for his ignorant attempt to “correct” those who actually understand how money is created. And on that note, if, at this point, you are going to try to argue with me on core economic concepts, you simply will not be permitted to comment here. The fact that I have correctly predicted two out of the last two serious economic crises – and done so in a timely manner – is sufficient justification for not putting up with idiots opining in ignorance on the basis of their outdated college textbooks. I am perfectly familiar with their beliefs about everything from comparative advantage to the money supply to the woefully inaccurate belief that banks keep 10 percent of their deposits in reserve.

In any event, back in 2014, the Bank of England helpfully explained how modern money is actually created in an article entitled Money Creation in the Modern Economy (pdf). If you don’t understand that money is debt, read the whole thing. And if you still don’t understand that after reading the article, read it again.

One common misconception is that banks act simply as intermediaries, lending out the deposits that savers place with them.  In this view deposits are typically ‘created’ by the saving decisions of households, and banks then ‘lend out’ those existing deposits to borrowers, for example to companies looking to finance investment or individuals wanting to purchase houses…. Another common misconception is that the central bank determines the quantity of loans and deposits in the economy by controlling the quantity of central bank money — the so-called ‘money multiplier’ approach….

Lending creates deposits — broad money determination at the aggregate level

As explained in ‘Money in the modern economy:  an introduction’, broad money is a measure of the total amount of money held by households and companies in the economy.

Broad money is made up of bank deposits — which are essentially IOUs from commercial banks to households and companies — and currency — mostly IOUs from the central bank. Of the two types of broad money, bank deposits make up the vast majority — 97{de336c7190f620554615b98f51c6a13b1cc922a472176e2638084251692035b3} of the amount currently in circulation. And in the modern economy, those bank deposits are mostly created by commercial banks themselves.

Commercial banks create money, in the form of bank deposits, by making new loans.  When a bank makes a loan, for example to someone taking out a mortgage to buy a house, it does not typically do so by giving them thousands of pounds worth of banknotes.  Instead, it credits their bank account with a bank deposit of the size of the mortgage.  At that moment, new money is created. For this reason, some economists have referred to bank deposits as ‘fountain pen money’, created at the stroke of bankers’ pens when they approve loans.

Just as taking out a new loan creates money, the repayment of bank loans destroys money. For example, suppose a consumer has spent money in the supermarket throughout the month by using a credit card.  Each purchase made using the credit card will have increased the outstanding loans on the consumer’s balance sheet and the deposits on the supermarket’s balance sheet. If the consumer were then to pay their credit car bill in full at the end of the month, its bank would reduce the amount of deposits in the consumer’s account by the value of the credit card bill, thus destroying all of the newly created money.

Banks making loans and consumers repaying them are the most significant ways in which bank deposits are created and destroyed in the modern economy.

Now, perhaps you will understand why I am a deflationista. And so are you, if you believe that any of the current outstanding debt will be written off or otherwise go unpaid, even if you don’t realize that you are. Debt forgiveness and bankruptcy-related debt write-offs are the literal destruction of money, and since deflation is a reduction in the money supply, any reduction in the amount of debt must necessarily be deflationary.