For most of us, ‘currency’ automatically means ‘legal tender’ currency, for example the Dollar or Pound, which we use every day. Running in parallel with this ‘normal’ money there are also many forms of so-called complementary currencies, which complement the national currency without trying to replace it: Regional currencies, Customer Loyalty Programs, Business to Business (B2B) barter systems and the WIR Bank, State-issued parallel currencies, LETS and Time Banks, so-called Virtual and Crypto-currencies (Bitcoin), Energy currencies, Freebanking and other Complementary Currencies. Each type of system fills a different niche in our economic ‘ecosystem’. A variety of monetary systems is just as useful for developing society as a variety of species is for a sustainable environment.

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The stability of the money system depends on belief in future profits and economic growth. The system of credit is a belief system (from the Latin credere = to believe). Credit is the belief in the ability of the borrower to pay back the borrowed money plus interest. Loans include interest repayments. This kind of money system forms the basis of capitalism: capital must yield a profit. The economy must always grow. Crises in the capitalist money and economic system are crises of belief. They occur when there is ‘too little’ growth, not ‘too much’. ‘Too little’ means the original calculations for growth and profit on issuance of the loan turn out to be exaggerated or the belief in them (for whatever reason) dissolves and the expectation of growth is revised more


We have no choice. Whether we want economic growth or not, our capitalistic system needs growth to at least match interest repayments in order to remain stable. The associated regular interest income of the ‘net interest winners’ is not only responsible for the fact that the wealthy become ever wealthier but also for the constant pressure for economic growth that seems inevitable. When interest income is not completely and directly consumed but reinvested at interest (which is especially normal practice with great wealth), then the mighty dynamic of compound interest sets in along with a resulting “growth spiral”. With ever increasing wealth, the demand for interest and resulting profits also increases. In order to balance this, new value has to be created – in other words: growth.
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Further economic reforms are being discussed around the world, new concepts are being conceived and new approaches tried. We can distinguish two main approaches here:

  • Top-down reforms, initiated by government bodies

  • Bottom- up reforms through altered economic behaviour between people.

On this website you will find further explanations of the following themes:

Common Good Economy

Ethical Investment

Crowdfunding and Microcredit

Sharing Economy and Gift Economy

Regulatory Approaches

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Most people think that money is created by the state or the central bank. But central banks only issue the cash we use, which is about 10% of the total money supply. Only a fraction of money has its origin in the state, namely notes and coins. By contrast, around 90% of the money supply is created as loans by commercial banks, which earn money from them. In order to bring the power of money creation back under democratic state control, money reformers discuss three core ideas: 100% Money (also known as the Chicago-Plan or Full Reserve Banking), Positive Money and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).
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All the great religions include a ban on usury, the charging of unjust interest, and Islamic Banking still practices this principle today. Very worldly businesses that also practice interest-free banking include the Swedish JAK-Genossenschaftsbank, in which customers save and lend money without interest, regional currencies, or the idea of a currency with a “circulation incentive”, which is based on the Freigeld idea of businessman Silvio Gesell. In view of the unworkability of all classical financial instruments in increasingly frequent financial crises, even conservative circles are adopting unorthodox measures: in June 2014 the European Central Bank dropped its base interest rate below 0% for the first time. Will negative interest rates become part of the monetary policy toolkit?

People say the first million is the hardest if you want to get rich. Let’s get to the bottom of this saying by taking a careful look at what an investor can do with a million Euros. He or she can ‘invest’ their money as most banks, investment fund managers and financial advisors suggest: interest payments are a tempting reward and the greater the wealth invested, the more they flow. The great investment funds such as pension funds receive better conditions than individual savers.

Capital assets   Yearly income (in Euro) from an interest rate of
1% 3% 5% 7% 10%
1000 Euro 10 30 50 70 100
100.000 Euro 1.000 3.000 5.000 7.000 10.000
1.000.000 Euro 10.000 30.000 50.000 70.000 100.000

With an interest rate of 5%, a millionaire receives 50,000 Euros a year for lending her million. That is more than 4,000 Euros a month – with that one can even afford to live well in expensive cities such as Paris or Munich. If the interest is not consumed but reinvested in the asset fund, then the powerful dynamic of compound interest takes over. Instead of 50,000 Euros interest as in the first year, the millionaire receives 52,500 Euros in the second year and over 55,000 Euros in the third year. Not only does her wealth grow but also the extra income on the capital grows too.

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Electricity comes to us from the plug, drinking water from the tap and money from the bank. But most people do not know how money is created. Who makes money? Or, as the experts ask: how is money created?

Cash in Germany is issued by the German Central Bank (Deutsche Bundesbank) and the European Central Bank. A maximum of 10% of money in existence in Germany is cash. Germans love to pay in cash. Other countries use cash much less and the long-term trend is away from cash. Most money only exists digitally as deposits in bank accounts and is created by commercial banks when bank loans are created. This system of money creation is the same all over the world: money is created through credit. Thus money and debt are two sides of the same coin. For each Euro of debt someone else in the world has a Euro of wealth.

What does money creation through credit mean? When a bank gives a 100,000 Euro loan, for example to buy a house, then in principle it creates this money ‘out of nothing’. The bank must keep a minimum reserve of 8% (1) to cover this loan and will demand some kind of collateral, for example in the form of a mortgage; thus credit creation is not unlimited. The bank can, with or without our savings accounts, give credit and thus create money. Banks are actually not only – as is often claimed – intermediaries for money.

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