Alternative Structures for Money and Banking

September 03 - 06, 2017 Vienna
Local Organisation: Jean-Robert Tyran
Core Conference: Hans Gersbach
Open Meeting : Davide Cantoni


The financial crisis of 2008/2009 has spurred efforts to give money and financial intermediaries a proper place in macroeconomic thinking and models. It has also given a powerful impulse to the search for potential alternatives to the current monetary and financial architecture.

In the current system, the banknotes and coins issued by the central bank are the sole legal tender. Yet, most of the money is created by commercial banks. Only certain depository institutions – mostly commercial banks – are eligible to borrow reserves from the central bank, and these reserves are used to settle interbank liabilities.

Paired with new ways to transact and pay, which are enabled by digitalization and encryption methods, several alternative architectures for money and banking are now being discussed in academic and in policy circles. Some proposals and technological developments could fundamentally change the current monetary architecture as well as the entire banking and financial system:

  • Abolition or Strong Limitation of Money Creation by Commercial Banks 
  • Abolition of Cash and the Role of Book Money 
  • Crypto-currencies and Free Banking

At this conference, we will review the core ideas underpinning these alternative architectures, and will assess their consistency, completeness, and prospects of adoption. We will draw on historical experience to assess whether these alternative architectures are merely a rehash of old ideas or whether they are truly new. We will also examine how central banks view digital currencies and new transaction technologies.

Keynote speakers are:

  • Michael Kumhof (Bank of England): “Monetary Reform: The Chicago Plan and Central Bank Digital Currencies”
  • Martin Hellwig (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods): "Geldtheorie, Bargeld und Giralgeld"
  • Adi Shamir (ACM Turing Award, Weizmann Institute in Rechovot, Israel): "The Past, Present and Future of Bitcoin"
  • Albrecht Ritschl (London School of Economics): "Emergency funds, cigarettes, Bitcoins: About the rise and fall of alternative currencies"

The general theme of the conference is also covered in a panel discussion with leading and experienced representatives.