Switzerland to hold referendum on banning private banks from creating money

© Dado Ruvic
A radical initiative to strip private banks of their power to “create money” and make it exclusively a central bank privilege has gathered enough support for the Swiss government to announce a referendum on the issue. A vote in favor may result in a return to 100 percent reserve banking.

“Banks won’t be able to create money for themselves anymore, they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from savers or other banks, or even, if necessary, money that the Swiss National Bank has provided them,” the campaign said in a statement on their petition website.

As soon the petition concerning changes to the Swiss banking system had received more than 100,000 valid signatures, the Swiss government confirmed it would hold the referendum, according to the Telegraph. The date when the country will vote to decide whether private banks should be keep their power of creating money has not yet been set.

The move comes as part of the Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative (known as the Vollgeld-Initiative in German) that seeks to put an end to financial speculations. The group is concerned with the current state of affairs in traditional fractional reserve banking, where real coins, banknotes and central bank liabilities account for only a minor part of money in circulation, while most of it exists as electronic cash created by private banks.

“Most people believe that the money they have in their bank accounts is real money... This is wrong! Money in a bank account is… a promise the bank makes to provide money, but it is not itself legal tender,” they group explains in their statement.

The initiative claims that it strives to change the system so that it complies with the Swiss Constitution, guaranteeing safety and avoiding such phenomena as finance bubbles and empty money.

If the change is introduced, Swiss banks would have to look for a workaround to continue providing their clients with the usual set of services.

This won’t be a first referendum on monetary policy in the recent history of Switzerland. The Swiss voted against a law that would increase country’s gold reserves from 7 percent to 20 percent back in 2014, despite early polls showing increasing support for the initiative.