Bernard Lietaer,the most famous Belgian of whom you’ve never heard, has died at the young age of 77.
He was the original economist who dared to talk about money, having been warned by Paul Krugman that talking about money would impede his career development, which was almost definitely correct. But when, as the Belgian Central Bank’s representative for the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), a fellow delegate had told him that the BIS was all about preserving the status quo, he left. He (quite correctly, in my view) felt that bankers were an invisible lobby for the existing system which greatly benefitted them – and thus would never support change.
Thereafter he specialised in advising on the setting up of parallel and alternative currencies. He considered the Bristol pound (into which, I think, he had no direct input) the most sophisticated local currency in Europe, which, incidentally, having merged with the local Credit Union, backs every paper Bristol pound with a pound sterling held by the Credit Union. As the Bristol pound is also electronic and Bristol City Council, and other organisations in the city, offer their employees the option to take part of their salaries in Bristol Pounds, and Bristol City council accepts the currency in payment of Council Tax, the Bristol pound would also appear to be unique in the EU in creating new money – of which Bernard Lietaer would only approve.
He was an ‘Modern Monetary’ supporter, though he thought its proponents should embrace, not just one, but a diversity of currencies, which he considered necessary to ensure greater monetary resilience and stabilty.
With his passing the field is starkly bereft of economists willing or able to fill his everyday ‘money’ shoes.
A short youtube video follows which is worth the 10 minutes it lasts:
and a link here to a 30 minute one which goes into greater detail.