Money reform and the Eurozone crisis: panacea, utopia or grassroots alternative?

North, PJ ORCID: 0000-0001-5147-7296
(2016) Money reform and the Eurozone crisis: panacea, utopia or grassroots alternative? Cambridge Journal of Economics, 40 (5). pp. 1439-1453.

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The economic crisis that broke out in 2007–2008 and the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone has given a new urgency to discussions about alternatives to capitalism, and a new salience to proposals for monetary reform and for grassroots economic alternatives. Using Marx and Engel’s concept of Utopianism as an analytical tool to distinguish between what is the work of ‘cranks’, and what of ‘brave heretics’, the paper examines four monetary responses to the crisis: (1) Positive Money’s call for a state monopoly on money issuance; (2) the reintroduction of national currencies, in particular the drachma; (3) proposals for state-issued parallel currencies; and (4) grassroots or subaltern money networks of various types. The paper argues that the dominance of neoliberal ideology at a European Union level means that proposals for monetary reform at the international and national level are unlikely to be taken seriously by elites and consequently seem utopian in Marxian terms. There seems to be little political will to engage with the complexities of and potential opportunities of a more diverse monetary architecture within the Eurozone, and a perceived need to ‘discipline’ potentially ‘irresponsible’ governments like Greece’s SYRIZA, although ‘responsible’ actors in the north of the Eurozone get more leeway. The potential of grassroots alternatives is also too often overstated. While alternative currency networks developed as part of the Greek crisis are not particularly well developed, alternative currency networks could work as sites of innovation, normalising the idea that there are progressive alternatives to Eurozone breakup.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alternative currencies, Financial crisis, Greece, Monetary reform
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 16:07
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:35
DOI: 10.1093/cje/bew022
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