Moneyless Euro Proposal

This proposal for a “real economy clearing system” for Greece is meant for the perusal by anyone dealing with Greek public finances these days. (Esp. of course for Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras if we are lucky enough to catch their attention.)

The following proposal to introduce “moneyless Euros” via  clearing system is designed to:

  • fix the deflationary spiral of the Greek economy,
  • allow recovering of outstanding tax debt from money-wise insolvent taxpayers (reportedly over 60 billion EUR in Greece as of 2015),
  • support the Greek national economy and create jobs there,
  • reduce the economy's overall need for Euro currency liquidity,
  • all while still keeping the Euro as legal tender currency.

We propose to implement this clearing system with network bartering, a technique pioneered on our platform goods and services are offered in Euro-denominated value on a web-based marketplace. Intentions to order them are recorded there too, resulting in an order graph. A MILP optimization algorithm permanently tries to find subsets of this order graph that can be executed as network barter deals. In each network barter deal, every involved participant receives goods and services, and gives goods and services, and both sides equal out. This way, goods and services are used for payment. No money tokens (“Euros”) are needed for such trading, which means that it works both under deflationary conditions and with monetarily illiquid participants. At the same time, it avoids the pitfalls of parallel currencies (local trust requirements, collective credit problem, Gresham’s Law) – because money is not used as tokens at all here, just as a unit. It is also not a problem for national or international trade, since most jurisdictions allow barter trade and treat it same as trade with money involved, for tax purposes demanding that all legs of a commercial  trade are documented with invoices.

Obviously, such many-party barter deals are still less flexible than trading in money tokens, but this can be handled by using a hybrid barter/money system (like Makerfox’s instant deals), which alleviates liquidity issues through bartering as much as possible while relying on money tokens for the rest.

For the Greek population and its public finances, the following template for a barter deal seems especially relevant:

Scenario: Recovering unenforcable tax debt. Citizens pay in kind, and government forwards these products and services to its employees and pensioners (former employees) by paying their wage / pension partially in barter value rather than cash. This additional tax revenue is additional demand for local products and services, supporting the local economy; it also frees up regular monetary tax revenues to pay for necessarily monetary expenses like sovereign debt service.

End note, to illustrate the proposal a bit more: the barter algorithm we propose (nearly) does not suffer from the “coincidence of wants” problem of old-school one-on-one barter. It is a highly flexible, advanced form, made possible by mathematical optimization algorithms and considerable computing resources, able to find network barter deals automatically that fit the above template. Such specific deals will include additional participants as required to make values match up. In our simulations, concrete deals easily include 100 participants and 200 orders each. As an example, this is how one network barter deal would look in practice (circles representing users, squares representing products or services, arrows direction of exchange):

Supporters. The following teams and projects want to support the Greek government in implementing the above proposal, either free of charge or compensated in-kind as proposed for public employee payments above:

  • The Makerfox team, wanting (1) to consult the Greek government on how to implement a network barter system and (2) to provide our current network barter marketplace software as a basis.
  • The Epelia team, wanting to provide a custom food marketplace that can be easily integrated into a network barter economy and is tailored for direct sale by small-scale producers.

Feedback direly desired :wink:

Before attempting to get the attention of the Syriza government to the above, I would rather like to make sure the proposal is substantial, meaningful and accurate in financial / economic terms. Since I’m only an amateur regarding finance and economics, I’d like to submit this for feedback to @ArthurD, @Alberto and FIST founder @hexayurt … and anyone else on Edgeryders, as we do here :slight_smile:

You and anyone else on Edgeryders may want to offer some ideas and support as well … very welcome, I’d include them into the proposal as well. (I’d also send the proposal in the name of Edgeryders if we can agree on that, but maybe the idea is just toooo experimental for making it sth. official …)

try the networkedlabour mailing list

for feed back I would post it on the networkedlabour mailing list :

(or I could do it for you)

there are participants, such as Michel Bauwens

who have some contacts with Syriza around those sorts of subjects



Great tip, thank you! As you seem registered there already, I’d be glad if you could quickly post a link to this discussion here on that mailinglist. If a substantial discussion develops there, I’ll gladly register and join in :slight_smile:


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Social Banking

I just read a hefty book an social money (incl interest free loans), 10.000year history; it is works well now on Sardinia and South America. The good news: the software needed is now tested and available for free!! see

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That’s good, for local initiatives

Cyclos is good stuff, thanks for adding it. I once tried it for a bit :slight_smile:

We had a discussion here on about social currencies / LETS / time banks just recently, and kind of agreed that they work on local scale but cannot be scaled up to any size. For example, one case where they did scale up is the 2001 Argentine debt crisis, where complementary currencies accounted for 25% of GDP, but then also quickly disintegrated due to corruption and internal mismanagement. Social money needs the social element, the local trust within a community, to work properly. (That’s not a criticism, but simply a property of these systems.) Greece has them on the local level too – I met a lady from Volos in 2013 for example, telling me about the city’s LETS currency. But they did not scale up to a national system, and Mr. Varoufakis indicates that the reason for this is something called “Gresham’s Law”. I’m looking for something to work at scale, which is why I’m trying to do without currency tokens at all here.

All true what you say, but the latest 2015 Cyclos software works much better and can be finetuned to get the right social impact!

Just read that 500 new local initiatives have been started this year already based on this software. Sorry all this info is in Dutch!

I am working for payments for climate services, like tree planting, no not planting, tree caring, monthly @treecredits


Who compensates for the treecare?

Just looked around the Treecredits website and I like the idea (… I like everything about reforestration b/c I have an enthusiastic forest ranger uncle :smiley: ). But I couldn’t quite work out what the economic model is: who pays, or otherwise compensates, the poor people for caring for the trees? Since this is about a commons resource, this is difficult (and we’ve had lots of discussions here on this platform!). If you want, you could tell us a bit more, e.g. with your own post in the Agora group. I’ll return the favor and give you some feedback like you did for me here.

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Solid idea, but how to propose it?

The idea is solid, though so radical as to make it unsuited to the faint of hearts. I spent a few minutes trying to shoot it down, but could not. Receiving taxes in kind is better than not receiving taxes at all. There are a couple of iffy incentive positions:

  1. impoverished citizens who are, at the moment, not paying taxes might wonder why they would give material goods like food to the government in return for a receipt of tax payment. Once you stop paying, life becomes really simple, at least if you don't own anything that the tax man wants to reclaim. These people would be parting from valuable food in return for more or less meaningless pieces of paper.
  2. government employees might apply Grisham-like logic to food, and insist they be paid in euro instead. The vastness and complexity of govt budgets makes it very tempting for any one group to say "pay us, plug the holes in the budget cutting elsewhere".

But, assuming people could be brought on board and do not try to game the system (which is admittedly a big assumption), the scheme could work. And it is big and ambitious: bravo!

I wonder, though: who to address this project to? And how?

Thanks for the feedback, I feel a bit better about that crazy idea now :stuck_out_tongue: Analyzing incentive positions is a nice technique, I’ll remember it! On your first point: most tax debtors will be business owners, esp. small business owners – not employees, as income tax on wages is deducted “at the source” and not paid out. So the motivation to pay off the tax debt in-kind is to avoid the impending danger of having ones business closed down.  On the second point: yes, granted, that will be a problem. To avoid another incentive problem though, the barter scheme should probably only be applied to the current unenforceable tax debt, as a one-off measure (still 69 000 000 000 EUR though!) … else everyone would start to hide their money in order to pay their taxes in-kind, which can’t keep a state going.

What I’m still wondering about is the macro-economic effects of this scheme: Would it maybe boost the national economy, since the government acts as a “consumer of last resort”? However, enforcing tax debts is extractive, how could that be responsible for boosting the economy? frown

How to present this proposal? Yea, difficult. Two months ago posting a comment on would have been a good idea, since he has always been responsive there and is open to outlandish ideas (such as here). But he seems to have little time lately :smiley: The Syriza contacts mentioned by @fjanss above seem our best bet so far.

This would be an ideal set-up for manufacturing, farming and food co-operatives.

With a co-op structure you’ve got the time-tracking and task-tracking built in.

Makers co-ops would be able to produce all of the hardware necessary to perform urban-farming.

Allow sale of pruduce on the free market, and you’ll avoud the productivity problems that were found in the USSR and China.

Set the tax-deficit-repayment of the produce provided to the common stocks equal to the market sale value, and you’ll have an equitable solution.

If the maker’s co-ops use this as the opportunity to upscale to modern CNC systems, and you’ll get an increase in productivity, whioh is where the Greek experience has been lacking as compared with Germany.

When setting the co-ops up, include clauses in the Constitution, the Articles and Memorandum, that specifiy that if the co-op shuts down, all of the assets can only be tranfserred to another co-op with identical rules to the original co-op, and you’ll stop anyone trying to loot the assets.

All long-term dividends are paid to the members of the co-operatives.

Have every greek citizen be a member of these co-ops, and you’ll be able to harness their own self-interest.

It would only require that the Greek government initally set them up, and provide spaces to make things and spaces to grow food. Once they’re up and running then the co-op’s would be run by their members, so the admin/bureaucracy would be minimum that the members require.

Automation of the growing systems would mean that the amount of time required to ensure consistent food supply would minimal.

And that’s based on existing solutions, with existing technology. No new research required, just design and implementation.

I forgot to mention the GPL-like clauses for co-op set-up.

When working with co-op’s before, i came across the clauses system in the articles of one co-op, where if the co-op folded, all of the assets could only be transferred to another co-op with identical rules.

Add in the clause that if anyone proposes taking the co-op to a limited company model, so it could be sold off, the co-op is immediately dissolved, and all assets transferred to another co-op with identical rules, an identical roster of members, and an identical set of legal relationships, before the changes are allowed to be voted upon. This allows blocking any attempt by 51% of the members of the co-op trying to rip off the other 49% of members.

Please note that these clauses say nothing about how the co-op is to do business on the operational side of things. This doesn’t affect the day-to-day running of the business.

They are purely protective.

Using these in any business is a clear indicator that the business owners aren’t looking to make a quick buck by punting a really bad idea as a dodgy IPO. These rules mean that they intend to make a long-running viable business. One housing co-op i know of that’s using this model is still going 43 years later, and since they’ve bought the freehold to the land, they’ll still be running and providing low-cost housing for as long as the co-op exists. :smiley:

High mistrust!

I appreciate the need for protection and long-term thinking. However, one must be careful in injecting too much rigidity in one’s work. Italy, for example, is a country with a very strong cooperative tradition: and yet, one sees plenty of co-ops still dominated by the mythical founder, typically in his 70s, who has been a visionary and now is holding on. Protective clauses work well, but protect the co-op from positive change too.

Also, there is something unconvincing in building something with others, under the assumptions that these others are stupid and/or evil and you have to put in place very tough legal armor. I mean, safeguards should be there, but they should be minimal. A co-op is not a religion, it is just a legal form for doing things. As the environment changes, that form might no longer be adequate to the original mission.

I’m from the UK.

I’ve seen the privatisations that have been running since the beginning of the 1980’s, and i’ve seen the rip-off’s and fraud that took place during the privatisations of what had previously been state-owned enterprises.

When BT was privatised, they posted a profits boost in the first few weeks of operation. They hadn’t changed how the business was run, they just changed how they counted the  money as turnover.

It meant that they were making it explicit about how their customers had been ripped off, while it was a monolithic state-run enterprise, but they didn’t change anything, except the pockets that the money was going to. Now they were a monolithic private enterprise. With a physical monopoly on the existing telecoms infrastructuire of the UK…

It’s been improving, but the local ISP’s and co-operative ISP’s have had to fight tooth and nail to get BT to provide the services that they’ve been contracted to do. In terms of exchange access which BT are legally required to provide, in terms of rural digital exchange upgrades, and in many other ways, BT have been dragging their heels about letting other players into the market.

As an engineer and techie, i’m more interested in efficient solutions than most people.

As someone who worked in the music biz, i’m always looking for the ways that people can be ripped off, because if you don’t have all of the loopholes nailed shut, then it WILL happen.

And don’t get me started about Hollywood accounting…

Note, i didn’t say anything about how the co-operative was going to be RUN, i was only saying that they need explicit clauses about how it should be OWNED.

I’ve seen the studies from China that showed when it was a state-run model, you got lots of free-riders, who didn’t put their share of the work in, because they weren’t directly benefiting, both on the ground doing the labour, and higher up the hierarchy.

It was only when the peasants were able to sell direct to the market and profit for themselves, that the state farming enterprises were able to function effectively.

That was the real secret behind the economic miracles of Hunan and Shenzen.

Harnessing people’s inherent self-interest efficiently.

What i was trying to create was a rule-set that would mean that the longer-term self-interest, would win out over the short-term quick buck.

There was one attempt to try and privatise a housing co-op, while one friend was living there. To paraphrase what he said at that particular meeting. “Yes, we could realise a quick profit by moving out and selling the buildings, but if we still wanted to live in London, we’d end up paying commercial rents. The share of the money that we’d each get, would cover one year’s commercial rent. Which is why we have the minimum length of membership being one year.”

It doesn’t mean that i’m approaching the idea of co-operatives dogmatically as an ideology. Here in the UK, the simplest and quickest way to start a co-operative, is to use a limited company as a legal structure, with rules that set it up so it behaves according to the co-operative principles.

I just want to have explicit guarantees built-in from the start, so that they can avoid the routes to fraud that have already taken place.

To misquote Kim Stanley Robinson, “Do you want real change, or do you want business-as-usual with a different set of faces in charge?”

Use the Brussels connection?

If you want Matthias I can call the Greek MEPS most likely to be interested, or check with Julia Reda on Monday what she thinks? We;re meeting anyway about a possible collaboration so it’s no extra trouble to ask…

Yes please :slight_smile:

If you’d do a bit of concurrent networking on EU level, I’d really appreciate it. But just a bit, since this is clearly a “shooting the blue sky” idea. So I don’t want you or me or anyone to sink a lot of time into this idea. A first contact from or near the Greek public finance people, to send a rough proposal to, and who can then say “Ok, elaborate this and that, then I can do this and that with it and get it close / closer to being considered for implementation.” … that would be the ideal case.

That said, I’m amazed by the ideas and connections that everyone contributed in this thread already! Didn’t expect that the Edgeryders community is that resourceful now :slight_smile: Thanks everyone!

Macroeconomic benefits of writing off toxic credits…

There is plenty of evidence that writing off toxic credits has a highly positive macro effect. If you have a credit of 10 units towards someone who has no chance in hell of paying you back, that’s a burden. After the subprime bubble burst, brokers were selling toxic debt at 10 cents to the dollar, remember? What you are saying is you have a way to recover a bit more value from unenforceable credit, where “unenforceable” is the key word.

The other selling point is obviously reducing of EUR costs of government employees. That even the troika could like, because you are saying that you can reduce deficit, by salvaging some unenforceable debt by its transformation in in-kind stuff. Another way this could happen (less likely to give rise to conflict with the powerful trade unions of the civil service) is a scheme whereby people can bring food to, I don’t know, hospitals or refugee centers, and be paid in vouchers (denominated in EUR) redeemed against tax reports. The state would save EUR by not having to buy that food, and at the same time reduce the amount of delinquency in paying taxes. Not bad!

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Really good!

I like your idea of payment in tax credits for providing supplies to the government, esp. supplies that serve social security / solidarity. The tax credits idea has been proposed by Yanis himself here, but he proposed to let people buy them for Euros and redeem for face value in money any time, and alternatively for, say, 120% their face value in tax payments on maturity (2 years). That still requires people to have Euros to pay at least some taxes, so it won’t happen for the 69 billion EUR outstanding tax debt. With your idea however, these can be recovered at least in part. And at the same time, it plays along with the conditions on the ground in Greece: lots and lots of soup kitchens, medical services etc. which took over former functions of the state and are run by volunteers and on donation basis, also in-kind. Syriza would like the state to take on these functions again and “solve the social emergency”, but there’s very little money for it. Paying it from outstanding tax debts in-kind by re-framing and re-inforcing the civil solidarity movement that provides these functions at the moment anyway is kinda ingenious :slight_smile: So I’ll put that into the proposal, not paying public employees 20% in barter value.

From this starting point, adding more flexibility to such economic exchanges is either possible by making tax vouchers tradeable like a currency, or by using network barter. Tradeable vouchers would allow anyone to pay their taxes in-kind, by trading stuff for such circulating vouchers, which costs the government real money in cases where tax debt could be enforced to be paid in money. So, tradeable vouchers are only an attractive option when they are bought in money as in Yanis’ proposal. With network barter, vouchers would not be tradeable, they’d rather be immediate tax debt reduction and would be available only to those who qualify as having unenforceable tax debts.

Haha I really like this :slight_smile: We “found” up to 60 billion EUR to fight the Greek social emergency. Debt towards the government is transformed from something that cripples the economy and makes small businesses close for good to a tool for government to say: “Look people, we have a lot of problems, there’s a lot to do in this society, and you have to do it, and you can do it because without a full job you have the time.” Underemployment, tax debts and social crisis are problems that could just cancel each other out.

Think locally

Have you considered doing a local pilot? It reduces perceived risk (and I imagine the Greek govt does not want to be seen as doing too edgy stuff lest the markets get trigger-happy); and it simplifies logistics. I don’t know if cities levy taxes/charges in Greece: in Italy they do, they levy an urban waste tax that comes down to a few hundred EUR a year per household. This is also a reasonable sum that a person could attempt to clear in kind, so the psychological barrier would be low. You could maybe knock on the door of our old acquaintance Spiros Pengas (you remember him from LOTE1?), who seems to be still deputy mayor of Thessaloniki – the second largest Greek city. I think this is way more practical than addressing an MEP, because a city administrator has direct administrative leverage to make things happen, whereas a MEP has to work by moral suasion, call a meeting, set up a committee, you know the drill.

BTW: a local pilot does not have to be in Greece. You could just walk to your own city hall in Salzburg and ask the mayor for an appointment. smiley