US Congress Taking Revolutionary Steps Towards A Central Bank Digital Currency

The future of money is here; will the Federal Reserve Board be authorized to use distributed ledger technology for the creation, distribution and “recordation” of all the transactions of a Digital Dollar?

On July 28, 2021, a new bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives. This bill, sponsored by Congressman Don Beyer,1)“Press Release: Beyer Introduces New Legislation To Regulate Digital Assets,” (United States Congressman Don Beyer, Washington, July 28, 2021), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://beyer.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=5307 aims to regulate crypto-currencies. But it does more…

The bill is called the “Digital Asset Market Structure and Investor Protection Act”2)“H.R.4741 – Digital Asset Market Structure and Investor Protection Act, 117th Congress (2021-2022),” (US Congress, Washington, July 28, 2021),
https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4741/
[author: there is on September 18, 2021 only one version of the bill].
(“Digital Asset Bill”). And for the majority, it sets out future rules for crypto. However, hidden in this bill, changes to the foundation of the Dollar are proposed.

And because nobody outside crypto (and frankly, few inside crypto) actually read the bill, these amendments have so far largely gone unnoticed.

<Changing the Nature of Money_

Crypto-currencies have been making waves. Fans of crypto think they have the new medium of exchange. However, in the current proposed regulations, Congress clearly takes a strict approach towards crypto and its various use cases. The following article provides an overview of these new US crypto regulations.

Included in the Digital Asset Bill, amendments to the Federal Reserve Act and the definition of legal tender are proposed. These amendments drastically expand the powers of the Federal Reserve, and change how money is created and distributed in the US.

<The Dollar and the Federal Reserve_

Instrumental in the creation of the US Dollar is the Federal Reserve. It was set up in 1913 as a reaction to the 1907 financial crisis. During this crisis, Finance mogul J.P. Morgan, who had bailed the government out of a financial crisis in 1895, had to organize private sector investments and lines of credit to stabilize the banking system.

The original idea behind the Federal Reserve was for private bank deposits to be combined in a reserve. This could provide an emergency line of credit in times of economic stress.3)Staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, “Federal Reserve Act Signed into Law, December 23, 1913” (Federal Reserve History, Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, November 22, 2013), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/federal-reserve-act-signed

<What The FED Does: Creation of Digital and Physical Dollars_

Contrary to what is widely understood, the Fed does not “print money.” It can only manage the money supply indirectly.4)“What are the tools of U.S. monetary policy?,” (Federal Reserve Bank of San Fransisco, San Fransisco), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.frbsf.org/education/teacher-resources/us-monetary-policy-introduction/tools/

It is the private sector that “creates” most of what we use as money in the modern banking system. They do this by issuing credit to the market.

It is with the supply of credit by private banks that the monetary supply is inflated. Conversely, with the reduced demand for credit, the money supply deflates. The FED does not have as much direct influence on this process as it wants the market to believe.

In addition, the FED is responsible for the distribution of Federal Reserve Notes (those little papers we know and use as Dollars). Currency departments at each of the 12 Federal Reserve banks make recommendations about future currency needs. The banks then place orders with the Comptroller of the Currency. After reviewing the requests, the Comptroller forwards them to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which then produces the appropriate denominations of currency notes. The Federal Reserve distributes these through its member banks.5)“Distribution of Currency and Coins,” (U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, November 13, 2014), accessed on September 18, 2021, https://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/distribution.aspx

To summarize: the Federal Reserve does not directly create digital money. And, it also doesn’t create physical money (notes and coins).

<Introducing the Central Bank Digital Dollar_

After looking at what the FED is and isn’t allowed to do, we can look at how their authority is to be expanded. According to the Digital Asset Bill, section 11 of the Federal Reserve Act is to be amended to provide the Federal Reserve Board with new powers:

“(d) To supervise and regulate through the Secretary of the Treasury the issue and retirement of Federal Reserve notes (both physical and digital), except for the cancellation and destruction, and accounting with respect to such cancellation and destruction, of notes unfit for circulation, and to prescribe rules and regulations (including appropriate technology) under which such notes may be delivered by the Secretary of the Treasury to the Federal Reserve agents applying therefor.” 6)“Federal Reserve Act, Section 11. Powers of Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (d),” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/section11.htm
[author: included amendments from Digital Asset Bill, SEC 301 IN GENERAL, page 33]

So far so good. But the next section, contains the real story. According to the Digital Asset bill, Federal Reserve notes will in the future also be issued digitally:

“Federal reserve notes, to be issued at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the purpose of making advances to Federal reserve banks through the Federal reserve agents as hereinafter set forth and for no other purpose, are authorized. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is authorized to issue digital versions of Federal reserve notes in addition to current physical Federal reserve notes. Further, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, is authorized to use distributed ledger technology for the creation, distribution and recordation of all transactions involving digital Federal reserve notes. The said notes shall be obligations of the United States and shall be considered legal tender and shall be receivable by all national and member banks and Federal reserve banks and for all taxes, customs, and other public dues. They shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve bank.” 7)“Federal Reserve Act, Section 16. Note Issues (1),” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/section16.htm
[author: included amendments from Digital Asset Bill, SEC 301 IN GENERAL, page 24]

<Creation, Distribution and Recordation_

As we saw, the Federal Reserve does not have the power to create Dollars directly. It seem like this power is now to be granted to them. Given that these new Reserve Notes are digital, this strangely merges two distinct forms of money as well.

Next, we saw that the distribution of Dollars was done through member banks. It isn’t clear if this remains the case. It clearly says that these digital Dollars can be issued “in addition” to the current Federal Reserve notes. There is nothing, at least not in this law, preventing the Federal Reserve from taking a more centralized and direct role in distributing the digital Dollar. Perhaps during the next “emergency.”

And finally, the Federal Reserve Board is to be authorized to create and distribute a “ledger-based” digital Dollar that could be used for everyday transactions. There are a few technologies one could imagine, but let us for now assume this will be a blockchain. Blockchains are great for recording transactions; it is what they do.

Perhaps that is why the Federal Reserve will be authorized to do so? However, it is a bit hard to imagine that such a centralized structure would not lead to monitoring of all transactions. And what about privacy? What about security?

<Possible Outcome_

The Fed is currently not as powerful as it wants the market to believe; the Federal Reserve Act restricts a lot of its actions. This amendment, however, could drastically expand the powers of the FED, by allowing them to create and distribute a “digital USD” directly. It could change the entire structure of the financial system, with far reaching consequences.

And how are digital Federal Reserve Notes to be justified in terms of the origins and authority of the Federal Reserve? If the Digital Dollar is based on a blockchain, how can they also be based on reserves?

And what mechanism will determine how funds (and how much) are added to the economy? And where and how will they be distributed? Will this all be under the control of a board of seven unelected bureaucrats? And how will they control a distributed ledger of such magnitude?

This amendment has the potential to change the way the Federal Reserve operates. It is not law yet, and can still be changed. This deserves a wider discussion by economists and financial experts outside the crypto-space as well.

 

Cite this Article

Thysse W., “US Congress Taking Revolutionary Steps Towards A Central Bank Digital Currency” (Decentralized Legal System, September 19, 2021), available on: https://decentralizedlegalsystem.com/us-congress-central-bank-digital-currency/

 

References

References
1“Press Release: Beyer Introduces New Legislation To Regulate Digital Assets,” (United States Congressman Don Beyer, Washington, July 28, 2021), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://beyer.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=5307
2“H.R.4741 – Digital Asset Market Structure and Investor Protection Act, 117th Congress (2021-2022),” (US Congress, Washington, July 28, 2021),
https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4741/
[author: there is on September 18, 2021 only one version of the bill].
3Staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, “Federal Reserve Act Signed into Law, December 23, 1913” (Federal Reserve History, Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, November 22, 2013), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/federal-reserve-act-signed
4“What are the tools of U.S. monetary policy?,” (Federal Reserve Bank of San Fransisco, San Fransisco), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.frbsf.org/education/teacher-resources/us-monetary-policy-introduction/tools/
5“Distribution of Currency and Coins,” (U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, November 13, 2014), accessed on September 18, 2021, https://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/distribution.aspx
6“Federal Reserve Act, Section 11. Powers of Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (d),” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/section11.htm
[author: included amendments from Digital Asset Bill, SEC 301 IN GENERAL, page 33]
7“Federal Reserve Act, Section 16. Note Issues (1),” (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington), accessed on September 6, 2021, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/section16.htm
[author: included amendments from Digital Asset Bill, SEC 301 IN GENERAL, page 24]

6 Replies to “”

  1. I wonder how this ties in with the IRS $600 bank reporting bill. Seems to me that the structure will be set up to track most banking events, which can then be flipped over to the digital “recordation” of all transactions.

    1. Agreed. If the FED gets authority ti do the Digital Dollar, they can (and will) flood “banking” and who or what is to stop them from pulling ALL physical currency shortly after, destroying it and making it illegal?
      I have heard rumors that Europe is already outlawing the large denominations of physical bills, as well as hearing that here in the U.S.

      My thoughts go to- they’ll work in control, add electronic currency, pull physical monies off the market and outlaw them, then control all of your minutes and assets… including but bit limited to pulling all of your savings, bank accounts and retirements. Then reward those that comply and literally destroy those that don’t.
      The govt has already taken steps these last 2yrs to cause a food shortage (one step) by ordering destruction of crops before harvest or they’ll Agent Orange the fields.
      This action is being taken across the globe not just here.
      Looking around as the puzzle pieces come together, every aspect of life as we know it u.s violently changing. It can be slowed and maybe stopped but that will possibly mean Civil War… unless the Democrats and FED back down on all levels… and though I pray for it, I don’t see that happening.

  2. This would destroy most small banks , leaving only a handful of huge ones, which may be the main objective. Small banks could not afford the computing power required for the distributed ledger to record ALL transactiojs, not just their own as they do today.

  3. Truly scary!! Who can stop this from becoming a reality. Can members of congress be required to read the entire bill, especially the passages referring to completely changing our present monetary system? Even I realized the country has been bankrupting itself giving free money for repaying debts people willingly sighed up for. No one paid my bills.

    1. You can protect yourself from central bank digital slavery by owning PHYSICAL, hold-in-your-hands gold and silver.

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