FEASTA Guest Lecture & Discussion: Creating & Directing Public Money by Mary Mellor

Friday 25th April 2014, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Sq. , Dublin.

Download the powerpoint slides from the talk

Mary Mellor is Emeritus Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle. One of her primary interests is in developing radical alternative models of money, finance and economic development. Mary is the author of The Future of Money and is working on a new book : Debt or Democracy? The Necessity of Public Money.

This event picked up where Feasta’s May 2013 seminar, The Money Mess, left off, and was co-facilitated by Feasta’s Graham Barnes and Paul Ferguson of Sensible Money.

The hidden mechanics of money-issuance are becoming progressively exposed thanks to the efforts of Positive Money, Sensible Money, NEF, Feasta and others, and the enormous subsidy/ preference given to private banks in the form of the power to create money is more widely understood; as is their misallocation of loan capital. But what responses are open to us, individually and collectively?

The private-good public-bad ideology of the neoliberals is being used to mount a sustained attack on public welfare and infrastructure. This assault is underpinned by a narrative Mary calls ‘handbag economics’ – the idea that sovereign governments need to operate like households; where each public investment is immediately countered with a ‘where is the money to come from’ argument (when the government can create public money if it chooses); where public expenditure is portrayed as a drain on the private sector ‘wealth creators’; where non-GDP activity is effectively treated as worthless.

Mary’s talk explored our current predicament from this handbag economics perspective, how it rationalises unnecessary austerity and emphasises scarcity. Can a sufficiency economy develop on the back of monetary reform?

In the discussion that followed we explored the possible responses to monetary dysfunction – both through reform and via monetary diversity. The simplistic private-good public-bad narrative is being attacked on a number of fronts – for example by Mariana Mazzucato who points out the seminal role of the public sector in technology developments. So we have powerful and articulate fellow travellers. But how can we take back control of the prevailing narrative from a reactionary capitalist establishment, dug-in to deny climate change and welshing on their environmental responsibilities? And what would truly democratic Public Money look like?

Download the powerpoint slides from the talk

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