US Congress Quietly Sneaks In Crypto-Bill Amendment Authorizing 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?
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.
To summarize: the Federal Reserve does not directly create digital money. And, it also doesn’t create physical money (notes and coins).
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.