Wray- the currency as a public monopoly

Good to see this- been suggesting it for quite a while.

Working Paper No. 658, March 2011

Keynes after 75 Years: Rethinking Money as a Public Monopoly

L. Randall Wray

Economists and government policymakers fail to recognize that money is a public monopoly. The result of this misunderstanding is unemployment and inflation, says Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray. The best way to operate a money monopoly is to set the “price” and let the “quantity” float, as exemplified by Hyman P. Minsky’s universal employer-of-last-resort program.

Understanding how a monopoly money works would advance public policy formation a great deal, says Wray. And since banks are given the power to issue government money, failure to constrain what they purchase fuels speculative bubbles that are ultimately followed by a crash. The real debate should be over the proper role of government—how it should use the monetary system to achieve the public purpose.

In this paper I first provide an overview of alternative approaches to money, contrasting the orthodox approach, in which money is neutral, at least in the long run; and the MarxVeblen-Keynes approach, or the monetary theory of production. I then focus in more detail on two main categories: the orthodox approach that views money as an efficiency enhancing innovation of markets, and the Chartalist approach that defines money as a creature of the state. As the state’s “creature,” money should be seen as a public monopoly. I then move on to the implications of viewing money as a public monopoly and link that view back to Keynes, arguing that extending Keynes along these lines would bring his theory up to date.