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The Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative

Katrin Assenmacher () and Claus Brand ()

Credit and Capital Markets, 2018, vol. 51, issue 4, 621-644

Abstract: On 10 June 2018, Switzerland voted against a constitutional amendment to introduce a system of sovereign money or Vollgeld. The proposal foresaw that all money be created by the central bank and that commercial banks be banned from creating demand deposits. Demand deposits would have been required to be held in off-balance sheet accounts at commercial banks. We discuss the specific features of this proposal and compare them to its historical predecessor, the Chicago plan. We argue that the Swiss initiative would not have tangibly enhanced financial, monetary, and economic stability. Specifically, if implemented earlier, it would not have addressed the root causes of the Global Financial Crisis and would have been ineffective in changing its course and its consequences for Switzerland. Though the Vollgeld proposal would have turned commercial bank into central bank money, close-money substitutes would likely have remained on the liability side of commercial bank balance sheets. Vollgeld would also unlikely have redeemed promises of ancillary effects such as a reduction in public debt, more sustainable economic growth, and less complex regulation. Forestalling and tackling financial imbalances requires limiting leverage and safeguarding liquidity buffers through bank-level and system-wide rules and regulation.

Keywords: Sovereign money; Chicago plan; money supply; reserves; financial stability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E42 E50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:kuk:journl:v:51:y:2018:i:4:p:621-644