Money in the financial system overwhelms all it encounters making it a growing threat that needs to be dealt with
We are being overrun – by money. There may be worse things to have battering down one's door but a surplus of cash in the financial system can have scary consequences. The financial system was set up to facilitate the movement of cash to parts of the economy where it is needed but has instead become a behemoth exerting a dominating influence over the creation of goods and services in the actual economy.
Quantitative easing feeds the beast by flooding the banking system with even more cash in the hope that a few crumbs will drop down into the actual economy. However, not only is the financing no longer having the desired effect, but the extra money is becoming increasingly erratic and hard to control. Policies are needed to yank banking back into line.
Money getting out of hand
Spare cash in the form of savings is the basis for economic growth. Surplus from current production is invested to enable higher output later on. Banks were first created to shift extra money elsewhere so that production could be expanded. Yet, banks have gone beyond the basic operation of allocating money and moved into the business of making money from money. This is a waste of resources considering our best and brightest could be put to better use. But more than that, the colossal size of the financial sector is in itself a problem – it is like a giant trampling everything in its path.
Money is free to move around the globe on a whim. Too much free-flowing cash turns into a menace in terms of stability. The danger always seems close at hand – banks and others creating more cash out of thin air by increasing leverage when times are good while central banks unleash a mass of new money to shore up the economy when things turn bad. Yet, money is not always forthcoming - the impact of the global financial crisis was exacerbated by a flood of cash fading to a trickle.
The money is out there lurking and waiting. The skulking leviathan surfaces only in a few places but creates distortions wherever it emerges. A clear example is the property prices in London and other places in the UK which are booming at a time when the underlying economy is stuck in a faltering recovery. Emerging markets have also fallen victim to the ebb and flow of global finances due to their less developed financial markets and limited domestic savings.
Making money work for us
If massive money movements are causing chaos, it is only sensible to conclude that greater controls should be put in place to rein in the rampaging. The current direction of policy on finance has turned to re-regulation after decades of deregulation gave banks the freedoms which allowed the phantom cash to wreak havoc. The finance sector has railed against any restrictions, but the monster now rearing its ugly head cannot be left uncaged.
It is argued that free movement of money is essential despite the risks, as credit is cheaper as a result. But even the cheap cash from central banks has not been enough to convince banks to lend which suggests that easy money does not bring the benefits previously thought. This means that we should not fear the utilization of policies as controls over the movement of money, the separation of retail banks (which take in savings and give out loans) from investment banks (which deal in financial wizardry), or the introduction of higher standards for banks in each individual country. Money in itself is not evil – it just needs to be kept in its proper place.