How the game works
Play the Boom Bust Money Game and see just how easy it is to make money — when you’re a bank and you can literally make it out of thin air! Then see how it all goes wrong when you make too much of it.
The Boom Bust Money Game is a representation of how our banks operate and aspects have been simplified for the purpose of making it into a game. We recommend that first time users follow the tutorial within the game.
(After you’ve played the game, we’d love your feedback.
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How the real money game works
The Reserve bank creates our notes and coins that form less than 3% of our money supply. The rest is electronic money for EFTPOS transactions and internet banking which is created by private banks when people take out loans. This electronic money is created out of thin air and the banks then lend it to you and me and charge us interest on money they never had.
You may find it hard to believe, but don’t take our word for it. As the Bank of England puts it:
‘The reality of how money is created today differs from the description found in some economics textbooks: Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits.’
For a New Zealand perspective, view this seven-minute clip.
Nearly every dollar in the economy today was created when somebody went into debt.
So where do banks put this created money? They pump most of it into the housing market, pushing up prices year in and year out.
It is very profitable for banks to lend money on housing. If you cannot make the payments on the loan for the house or farm, then you will be thrown out. Remember that banks created the money out of thin air, yet you and I have to pay interest on that created money.
This is only half of the problem.
As they create the money themselves, the main constraint on how much new money is created is people’s ability to take on higher and higher levels of debt. This created money distorts the property market and allows house prices to increase year in and year out, irrespective of demand.
New Zealand’s housing inflation took off in 1995
“There was a large, statistically significant upward shift in real house prices in 1994–5. Between 1965 and 1995, real house prices grew 1 percent per annum, but after this they grew 4 percent per annum on average.”
— Reserve Bank Bulletin (Vol 79, No.1, January 2016)
Read more about how the real money game works
Banks make enormous profits from money creation — more than $5,000 million dollars (that’s $5 billion) each year — $10 million dollars a day and most of that profit disappears overseas. It is a huge drain on our economy.
There is however another problem. When people repay their loans, that money disappears from the economy. Loan money that is repaid to the banks cannot then be lent out again because as the original loan money was created from nothing it must return to nothing.
In banking terms money is “destroyed” when people repay loans. This is ridiculous and is probably what the former governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King was alluding to when he said, “Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today”.
For our economy to work, more people must get into debt than get out of debt. This is unsustainable and is at the heart of inequality, rising debt levels and growing child poverty.
In times of recession, people take out fewer loans as confidence declines, and more people repay their loans reducing our money supply. The banks also get nervous as their confidence in people’s ability to repay loans diminishes and they lend out less money.
Governments make matters worse by introducing austerity measures or requiring surpluses, cutting back on their spending. This further reduces the amount of money in the economy, prolonging any recession.
When confidence picks up, people take on new loans faster than the old ones are repaid, banks become bolder and lend more and the government spends more, creating a boom. This is the boom and bust cycle which is an artificial construct based on a flawed monetary system.
Four reasons to change
The power to create money is given by government. It should be used for the public good, not just private profit. It could build schools and hospitals, improve public services, or lower public and household debt.
The amount of new money created, and where it ends up, is too important to leave in the hands of private banks. The data now clearly shows they have misused this power, enriching a few at the expense of our economy and wellbeing.
New money should be spent into the economy to create jobs, infrastructure, better public services, and support productive activities. Instead, today it is lent into the economy which inflates house prices, buries us in unproductive debt, and drains money out of the economy as this debt is repaid.
The changes that created our problems with excessive private debt and bloated, too-big-to-fail banks, have also created an unequal, stressed, debt-laden reality for most Kiwis. It’s time to stop it before the damage is beyond repair.
Help us to achieve real change in our money system and make sure that it works for the public good not just for private profits.
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