I am in the fortunate position to be working as an interpreter for Tino Sehgal's work This is Exchange. However, I was not happy when I arrived for my shift to be told that the offer was now reduced from £2 to £1 because 'there wasn't enough money'. I considered my options and decided to stay with the project - because I had made a commitment, and also because I am really enjoying the conversations. I have no idea who made the decision to reduce the offer or whether it was a deliberate, provocative move to reflect the 'austerity' measures proposed by governments and seriously affecting ordinary people. I just welcome all opportunities to raise awareness of money as a means of exchange and a commodity in scarce supply.
So why isn't there enough money? Who is making the decisions about our money supply?
I asked a primary school child visiting the Turner Prize exhibition with her parents 'do you know where money comes from?' She answered 'from the Prime Minister and the Government'. Good answer. The reality is much further removed from democratic accountability. Most people are surprised to learn that around 90% of the money in circulation in the world (97% in the UK) is created by banks out of thin air when they make loans. That means that 90% of the money supply is linked to debt taken on by individuals and businesses (and they have to pay interest on it!) The amount of money in circulation is simply dependent on the confidence of the banks. Banks take risks with lending when they are confident of making profit (boom times). In times of recession (caused by the banks reckless lending) you will hear politicians talking about 'taking measures to encourage banks to lend more'. That's about the extent of regulation exercised. (Fractional Reserve Banking was always a myth.)
Whether banks lend to local businesses, invest in property (pushing up house prices) or speculate on the stock exchange is entirely up to them and the interests of their shareholders.
I realise that all this seems quite incredible, surely there is some government control? Well, don't just take my word for it. Do your own research to find out where money comes from and why there isn't enough. You might start with www.positivemoney.org and listen to another smart girl giving her explanation.