NEF should stop imposing their politically acceptable dogma on the monetary reform movement and start supporting real community initiatives.
Like many social sciences, including economics, it is tricky to identify hard success indicators for complementary currencies. Success and failure are pervasive, tangible and obvious, but rarely focused on one measurable metric. High trade volume may not indicate economic transformation. So I'd like to know what success indicators led to NEF's recent grant of 5.5 million pounds for their presumptuously named 'Complementary Currency 2.0' project.
In December 2010, NEF/Brixton pound announced was to relaunch the Brixton pound digitally after 2 years having no impact on paper. Josh Ryan Collins admitted the transition pound projects were not working when he referred to them as 'breaching experiments'. Nonetheless the gravy train was rolling and they spent $200,000 that year, importing the best software expertise from Holland, and relaunching the Brixton last Autumn with SMS and much talk of David Bowie. The latest circulation figures as of last December report £4000 circulated around 50 Businesses. Even if you count every digital pound changing hands as 100% impactful, this project returned 2% on its investment. The project's real success has been with publicity; NEF has the resources and clout to promote its initiatives at every alternative economics event in the hemisphere, and featuring an American sporting celebrity on the £5 caused the launch to be reported from coast to coast.
But now the gravy train has really arrived. The new software platform 'Monea', is built on the ancient and obscure 'Cyclos' software whose open source future is under question and which will need those millions just to keep up with the rapidly evolving web.This approach to monetary reform could kill the movement for the next 80 years.
-It does nothing to increase liquidity when the economy is short of money. -By focusing on the high street and not the businesses it ignores the larger money flows -It does nothing to demonetise and decommodify our lives, or rebuild community -This design is more expensive to issue than national money, whereas other monetary designs involve free issuance. -it does nothing to insulate the local economy from economic shocks -It has much more support from wealthy foundations than from the community. -Encouraging local trade is laudible but the effectiveness of localised pounds at changing people's purchasing decisions has yes to be measured. NEF is probably the most radical of all the establishment UK think tanks. It produced a marvellous book last year, Where Does Money Come From, accessibly challenging the neoclassical view which prevails in the economics profession and central banking. It publishes constantly on matters of social justice, relocalisation and a host of other issues that no government has ears for. It partners with projects around Britain prototyping models for change. However, NEF has no stake in the success of its projects, and its donors seem to be asleep.