How banks work

There’s a lot of confusion about how banks work and where money comes from. Very few members of the public really understand it. Economics graduates have a slightly better idea, but many university economics courses still teach a model of banking that hasn’t applied to the real world for decades. The worrying thing is that many policy makers and economist still work on this outdated model. In this video course we’ll discover how banks really work, and how money is created.

Technological Disobedience in Cuba (Ernesto Oroza)

In 1991, Cuba’s economy began to implode. “The Special Period in the Time of Peace” was the government’s euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as “art” in a movement he dubbed “Technological Disobedience.”

Diagrams and dollars (Devin Smith)

A helpful visual representation of money flows between government and private sector. The actual explanation of the thought process can be found here: part 1 and part 2. It is obviously a conceptualisation that simplifies much of what is going on. I therefore recommend also having a look at Money is created out of nowhere (Dominic Frisby)Money as debt (Paul Grignon) and Money as Debt II – Promises Unleashed (Paul Grignon).

Unreliable GDP stats lead to misguided ‘evidence-based’ policies (Morten Jerven)

There has been a lot of discussion about the viability of GDP as a measure of development (see The Genuine Progress Indicator, an alternative to GDP (Ron Colman)). Here, Morten Jerven discusses another issue with GDP, namely its unreliability (with a focus on Africa). Estimates of economic growth rates and per-capita income are basic to the operation of governments in developing countries and to nongovernmental organizations and other entities that provide financial aid. As Jerven notes, the current catchphrase in the development community is “evidence-based policy,” and scholars are applying increasingly sophisticated econometric methods—but no statistical techniques can substitute for partial and unreliable data. Similar arguments have been put forward  regarding extreme poverty calculations (see What is happening to poverty? (Rammelt and Surace)).