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Money, Credit, and Debt

Project Manager: Mark Notturno

Money by Curtis Gregory Perry on Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

We all know that money makes the world go round. But what is money and what real value does it have? How is money related to credit on the one hand and debt on the other? Why do some people seem to have so much of it and other people so little? How can something be worth a fortune one day and nothing the next? Do you know how the Federal Reserve creates money by buying US Treasury Bonds—or how ordinary banks create it through the ‘miracle’ of fractional reserve banking?​

Money by thomasjfellows on Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

Today, many Americans live in fear of both personal and national economic collapse.  They worry about whether they will ever be able to pay off their credit card and mortgage debt and whether their social security and retirement accounts will be worth anything when they retire. Today, changes in our money and monetary system have left us in uncharted territory. And today, many Americans are resigning themselves to a future in which they will most likely leave their wealth not to their children, relatives, and friends—but to the banks and other creditors that have lent them money.

This project began with a brief exploration of the evolution of our concept of money—what it was in the past, what it is now, and what it might be in the future—and its changing relationships with credit and debt. The panel discussions then explored various governance concerns and questions that Americans might have about money, credit, and debt—and then worked to develop and describe several contrasting conceptual policy possibilities for addressing them.

The panel discussions for this project concluded their meetings in 2012, and you can now download a pdf copy of the current working draft of this discussion report from the button above or from the following link:  Money, Credit, and Debt (MAN draft of Jan. 2013) (30 pages/2.4 MB).

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