24 Jun 2012

Is there a major monetary 'reset' coming in six months?

PLEASE NOTE: I've edited this post a bit to add new information, clarify some points and to correct minor errors.

The world's major financial institutions are insolvent. Between debt, derivatives, re-hypothecation, and fractional reserve banking, there is just too much (several hundreds of trillions of USD more) of 'notional money' in the system than corresponding real assets or collateral value.

No repayment or settlement is possible... A major financial and monetary system resest is INEVITABLE.

Of late, several economists and thinkers have been noting a movement toward bifurcating the 'money system' as we know it today, into two parts:
- a universal 'store of value' (i.e. global currency)
- an electronic 'medium of exchange' (i.e. cashless society)

On one hand, there are very visible candidates for 'global currency' - like the IMF's Strategic Drawing Rights (SDRs), which is valued against a basket of currencies - and The World Bank Group's Bancor, a concept that is valued against gold.

On the other hand, cashless e-transactions are being aggressively promoted as an alternative that is safer, faster, more efficient, and trackable (thus less prone to corruption). The advantage for the financial system is that a 100% electronic cash would also end the need to even keep a fractional amount in reserve.

But a electronic cash also has its downsides:
- it is essentially a trasfer of zero-value IOUs;
- it is still created by bankers;
- it is usable only within an approved network;
- it will eventually require some form of electronic / biometric identification; and (most perhaps, most importantly...)
- it can never be 'stored' or 'saved' by the users (i.e. the public).

Although nearly inevitable, there has been never been a date or timeframe ascribed for this 'reset event', or more likely 'reset process'... until last week, that is!

On 17 June 2012, India's Finance Ministry instructed the country's banks to "ensure that at least one person per family across the country has a bank account in the next six months." Essentially, a call to plug the lives of all 1.3 billion Indians (or 1-in-6 of all humanity) into the financial matrix.

The intention is to transfer all government transactions online. From taxes to subsidies - EVERYTHING will be in e-payment!

You probably don't think India has the IT infrastructure, authentication processes, or financial inclusiveness to make this happen... You are wrong. Almost every village of over 2000 persons in India's un-banked hinderland is now connected by private - and substantialy, foreign - companies called 'Banking Correspondents'. Its shareholders include hedge funds and foreign banks.

The IT infrastructure and system is in place - and it's called the National Information Utilities (NIUs). Not surprising, these too are structured for heavy corporate participation. This system will in-turn be based on the largest biometric database in history, the Unique ID (UID) System - which too will be validated, operated and maintained by private corporate entities!

This is from the Report of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects, presented by a team led by Nandan Nilekani to the Finance Ministry: "NIUs are important institutions, since they aid the functioning of Government. Due to various factors such as a large upfront sunk-cost, economies of scale, and network externalities from a surrounding ecosystem, they are essentially set up as natural monopolies."


The set-up is very similar to a Chartered Company monopoly - the most familiar of which (for Indians at least) would be the East India Company.

But such a drastic, far-reaching realignment of power between the public and private domains would need a serious crisis as backdrop in order to manufacture the appearance of public consent, or to takeover via 'emergency' powers minus public debate... Here's where the significance of the recent debasement of the Indian Rupee (by over 1/5th of its value), the downgrading of India's banking sector as well as its sovereign debt rating to one notch above 'Junk' status - could possibly come into play in the next few months!

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