Below is a half hour video presentation on the importance of Alexander Hamilton’s credit policy for the development of Africa. The forum was organized by Watch Democracy Grow, an organization promoting democracy and development in Africa, and was filmed Afrique Today.
As I discuss in the video and article below, African nations need long-term and low interest lines of credit to finance trillions of dollars necessary for infrastructure projects across the continent. Government backed authorities or the government itself can issued public credit in the amounts required. To provide credit for the newly united colonies, Hamilton designed the National Bank of the United States in 1791 at the request of President George Washington. It was a corner stone of the successful American System of Political Economy. Similar institutions are appropriate for African nations to finance vitally needed infrastructure today. Applying the Hamiltonian model, the Belt and Road Initiative, promoted by China, is helping Africa build and finance infrastructure that is essential for African nations to industrialize and expand their agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The article in the link below is a detailed and useful expose of how the CFA franc, controlled by France, contributes to the suppression of economic development in Africa. We have now past a half century since many nations in Africa liberated themselves from colonialism. Yet the French banking system still exercises colonial domination over the finances of African nations that should be economically independent. African nations will never be truly independent until they are economically sovereign. This means having sovereign control over their own currencies and the issuing of credit for internal improvements of their economies. African nations should have National Banks and Development Banks for the issuing of credit, as first conceptualized by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s concept of government-national credit was essential for the creation of an industrialized USA from thirteen agrarian based colonies.
The article below written by a friend of mine is a useful over view of the African Union’s plan to build High Speed Rail-lines in Africa. High-Speed Rail together with the production of abundant supplies of energy are indispensable for the continent’s development and the industrialization of African economies. The link to the entire article that is worth reading follows the excerpts.
“The vital plan for an African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), approved by the African Union (AU) in 2014, appears to be going forward energetically. But in fact, Africa is getting only half a loaf at best. Standard gauge rails are being built, but to “save money,” they are not being built to standards permitting the high speeds that the African Union had specified. These “higher”-speed lines are not “high-speed” by any accepted standard. Or, worse, existing lines of the old colonial gauge are being rehabilitated—again because “there is not enough money.”
“Yet having “enough money” is not the problem it seems to be: The principle of Hamiltonian credit—credit extended by government, on the strength of nothing but the skills of the population, and earmarked for projects sure to produce leaps in productivity—has been known in theory and practice for 200 years, even if suppressed by the business schools.” Read my post from earlier this year on Alexander Hamilton: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy
“AIHSRN is not a master plan for all rail transport in Africa. It is, rather, a plan for rapid rail transport across long distances. And Africa has long distances. To go from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope by road or rail is more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)—the equivalent of going from New York to San Francisco and back again.
“Yet with the AIHSRN, an express train could depart from Cairo at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, travel at an average of only 220 km/h (137 mph), make only five half-hour stops—at Khartoum, Nairobi, Dodoma (Tanzania), Harare, and Johannesburg—and arrive in Cape Town in time for an early breakfast on Wednesday. The east-west trip from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dakar, Senegal—“only” 8,100 km—will be quicker. The implications of such speed for the African economy—and for African integration in all respects—are enormous.
“The continental plan is for six west-east routes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea, and four routes that run from north to south—a 6×4 grid (see map).
“Because of their high speeds, the trains must run on dedicated, standard gauge lines that will not usually accept traffic from other, slower lines of the sometimes denser, surrounding rail network.
“The plan includes the construction of railway manufacturing industries, parts suppliers, maintenance facilities, and the building up of railway training academies.
“The AIHSRN is part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a fifty-year plan for the economic, social and cultural development of the entire continent, born in 2013”
With the initiation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement on May 30, 2019, now is the time for African nations to finally jettison the CFA frank, a relic of French Colonialism. No longer should 14 African nations have their sovereignty infringed upon by a former European colonial country. Economic sovereignty is inviolate. For a nation to develop its full economic potential it must control its currency, which is a from of national credit. One of the great accomplishments of the President’s George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was his creation of a National Bank, which unified all the currencies and debt held by the thirteen colonies. A nation that does not have sovereign authority over its currency and credit will never be truly free, and its people will suffer from underdevelopment..
Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles Of the American System of Economics By Nancy Bradeen Spannaus
A Review by Lawrence Freeman-March 28 2019
For those followers of our beloved Alexander Hamilton and for those new to his writings, this book is for you. Nancy Spannaus, in her just-released book Hamilton Versus Wall Street, makes a unique contribution to the existing volumes written on Hamilton’s political and economic thoughts. In her relatively short easy-to-read book, she weaves together Hamilton’s revolutionary ideas on political economy that served as the pillars for the creation of the United States, their legacy in the next two centuries of America, and their influence internationally. Throughout her treatise, Spannaus also provides constructive historical analysis of the battle inside the United States to adopt Hamilton’s concepts. This book is a valuable complement to Hamilton’s economic reports and will aid those unfamiliar with his seminal texts. *
Spannaus polemically begins by countering the popular myth that Hamilton was an agent for the banks (Wall Street) against the interests of the “little man,” agrarian society and the states, as espoused by Thomas Jefferson and others. She later devotes entire chapters to Hamilton’s opposition to the British central banking system and Adam Smith, exposing another slander which alleged Hamilton was a supporter of the British aristocracy.
Principles of Political Economy
Unlike like other publications on Hamilton that gloss over or give insufficient attention to Hamilton’s ground-breaking concepts of banking, credit, and manufactures, Spannaus makes a great effort to elaborate Hamilton’s contributions to: “The Core Principles of the American System of Economics.” **
All nations would benefit greatly, if their leaders and citizens studied Hamilton writings. American culture would not be at the low level it is today, if my fellow citizens had been taught Hamilton’s economic theories, which in fact were crucial to the creation of our nation from thirteen indebted, agriculturally-based colonies. Advanced sector countries that are dominated by financial systems dictated by Wall Street and the City of London, and underdeveloped nations that rely on resource extraction and farming, because they lack a manufacturing sector, could learn a great deal from Hamilton.
However, Hamilton’s thinking about economic growth was not limited to the mere production of goods. He understood for society to continually increase the productive powers of the economy, the development of the human mind was essential. Spannaus quotes Hamilton: “To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of the nations may be promoted.” (p. 28).
Friederich List, a student of Hamilton’s philosophy in the nineteenth century, wrote that “capital of mind, capital of nature, and capital of productive matter” are all essential components to achieve economic progress. (p. 29)
The Constitution and Public Debt-Credit
Hamilton knew that for a nation to be truly sovereign, it must possess the means to produce the physical wealth necessary to maintain the existence of its citizens and their posterity. It is no coincidence that the Founding Fathers embedded this concept in the profound Preamble to the US Constitution. As Spannaus emphasizes, for Hamilton, the importance of establishing federal credit through the creation of the National Bank, stabilizing the currency, developing the manufacturing capability of the young United Sates, and increasing the wealth of the nation through internal improvements, was coherent with the intent of the Preamble “to form a more perfect Union.”
Hamilton used the “general welfare” clause of the Preamble to justify his revolutionary idea to create a public-private National Bank to consolidate the separate states and establish a unified currency to promote national economic growth. Generations later, in the footsteps of Hamilton, Franklin Roosevelt, who studied Hamilton’s writings, would also rely on the “general welfare” clause to garner support for his New Deal and other programs he initiated to revive the U.S. economy wracked by the Great Depression.
Public Credit, anathema today to virtually all Democratic and Republican leaders, was another key concept Hamilton fought for, knowing that private sector funds and privately-owned banks would never adequately fund a nation’s economic growth, especially for large-scale internal improvements, i.e. infrastructure.
To emphasize the unique role of public credit, Spannaus lists four exceptional periods in U.S. history when the efficacious application of government-issued credit led to a pronounced expansion of the American economy. These are administrations of Presidents George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. (p. 55-56)
In chapter 7, the author concisely summarizes Hamilton’s outlook: “…it is the deliberate increasing of the productive powers of labor through technology, improvements in infrastructure, and the use of government power to create credit that will produce value in the economy.” (p.128) This is more than good advice that all public officials. government leaders, and informed citizens should follow to secure a joyful future for their nation.
In Africa and other underdeveloped regions of the world where nations have suffered from hundreds of years of exploitation of their natural resources, Alexander Hamilton’s wise words should be fully grasped: “The intrinsic wealth of a nation is be measured, not by the abundance of the precious metals contained in it, but by the quantity of the productions of its labor and industry.” (emphasis added p. 1)
*Hamilton wrote four major economic reports for Congress and President George Washington between January 1790 and December 1791: Report on Public Credit; Report on a National Bank; Report on Manufactures; and Opinion as to the Constitutionality of the National Bank.
**This is the subtitle of Hamilton Versus Wall Street.
With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation. Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.
President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA. However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.
Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.
Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects.
Nov. 7, 2018—One thing is definitive about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections: Neither political party put a solution to the country’s economic and financial disaster on the national agenda. That doesn’t mean that many of the new Democratic members of Congress don’t have a strong commitment to address the economic crisis, however. They can potentially galvanize the veteran Congressmen into action. The question is, will competent, workable proposals be put on the table in the 116th Congress?
Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.
Rep. DeFazio in his campaign photo.
More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.
“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”
The Issue of Funding
The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.
The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.
Moving ahead on Gateway would be a good place to start.
Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do? Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.
So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects. These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters. If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.
For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here
The Council of African Security and Development-CASADE has published my article regarding the debate over whether China is forcing African nations into a new ‘debt trap.’ Despite the propaganda from some Africans and Westerners, China is not the new imperialist in Africa. You can read my analysis below.
CASADE: COUNCIL ON AFRICAN SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT
The Debate On China’s Role In Africa; A Different Point Of View
Oct 20, 2018
A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”
The world is witnessing an increase in attacks on Africa’s relationships with China in various articles, as well as low-level, unthoughtful, messages on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Not only does that content intend to demonize China as the new colonial empire of Africa, but it also includes vulgar demeaning caricatures of African Heads of State.
Could the reason for the uptick of these kinds of diatribes be related to the successful September 3-4, Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, attended by leaders from almost every African nation? China has reached out to Africa and formed a special relationship which is being embraced by African Heads of State. It should be clear to any intelligent historian, that China is not acting as an Imperialist manner towards Africa.
However, what has been conspicuously, egregiously omitted from this unsubstantiated vilification of China, is the history of Western nations and institutions, which have acted as an Imperialist power towards Africa. The latest accusation is that China is deliberately entrapping African nations into unpayable debt. However, this is precisely what the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, along with their allies in the City of London and Wall Street did to Africa immediately following the “Winds of Change.”
The motivation for this propaganda barrage is that China via FOCAC and the Belt & Road Initiative is offering African nations a pathway toward growth uncontrolled by the financial predators in the City of London and Wall Street. Contrary to the myth that China is stealing African resources; which the Western powers did first under slavery, then under colonialism, and have continued under neo-colonialism, China is actually providing credit for physical infrastructure; the sin qua non to spur economic growth.
Debt and Credit for What?
A pervasive and quite serious problem affecting well-intentioned individuals from all corners of the globe is the lack of understanding of what actually creates economic growth. Neither money, nor financial transactions, nor derivatives, nor speculation, nor rising stock markets, nor the market place are the cause of growth or synonymous with real economic growth.
Credits issued for infrastructure; water, energy, rail, roads, healthcare, and education, identifying the most vital categories, if properly organized, leads to an increase in the productivity i.e. the economic power of the society. This is measured by the ability of society to increase its physical output from one production cycle to the next. By utilizing advanced technologies embedded in new capital equipment, including infrastructure, farmers and workers can produce more efficiently. Simply providing abundant energy, high-speed railroads, and water inputs to an African nation would lead to a jump in economic output. Shortly after the death of President Kennedy, the US ceased its commitment to assist Africa nations in expanding their infrastructure.
China is committed to lending, issuing credit-yes creating a debt to fund long-term investment in infrastructure. Credit directed in this way is good debt. With non-usurious interest rates over 15-20 years, the loan can be retired from the profit it generates to society. This form of debt is not equivalent to the hundreds of billions of dollars African nations were forced to pay to the financial capitals of the world for loans to cover rigged terms of trade, and currency devaluations.
If you study the American System of Political Economy with its cornerstone; Alexander Hamilton’s national credit policy, you will realize that China is emulating the best of America’s past. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt, who successfully applied Hamilton’s principle to rebuild the Depression riddled US with state issued credits, would have little trouble understanding the principles of President Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road.
Economics and the Common Good
There is a deeper level to comprehending economic growth. Every human being is united by a universal principle often expressed as the “common good of mankind.” Yes, all human beings regardless of religion, color, ethnicity, or place of birth, share a “common interest.” We are all created with the power of creativity. Not logic, not deduction, not induction, but the power to hypothesis new ideas. The power of discovery, to discern new principles of the universe that we previously did not know but were there waiting to be revealed to the human mind. These scientific discoveries spawn new technologies which are the primary source of economic growth. Thus, it is the responsibility, nay the obligation of every society to nurture and develop that creative potential innate in all its citizens from birth to death.
For all citizens to realize their potential, live productive lives, and raise their families without fear of hunger and security, a nation must have the economic means to expand the total physical wealth of society over succeeding generations. An advanced industrialized nation requires a healthy manufacturing sector, which is also an essential component of a productive agriculture sector. The absence of robust agro-manufacturing economies in Africa is crime along with its huge deficit in infrastructure. Sadly, the West does not have the vision to assist African nations in overcoming these deficiencies. China in all, but name has launched the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for Africa.
Among the eight major initiatives that President Xi laid out at the Africa-China Summit, China will:
1.Promote industrialization; 2. Support agricultural assistance programs; 3. Work with the African Union (Agenda 2063) to formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation program; 4. Increase its imports from Africa, in particular non-resources products; 5. Train 1,000 high-caliber Africans for training in innovation sectors; provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships; and sponsor seminar and workshop opportunities for 50,000 Africans and invite 2,000 African students to visit China for exchanges.
China has come to understand that it is the common interest of its own country, and in the fact all nations, is to help Africa develop productive industrialized societies not dependent on revenue from one resource or one crop. Under these improved conditions, hunger and poverty, the underlying causes for conflict, can be eliminated. Great progress can be accomplished in Africa and the world, if the US and Europe acquire the wisdom to join China’s Spirit of the Belt & Road
The world is on tenterhooks waiting for the next moves from the Trump Administration in terms of the draconian tariffs he has threatened to place on China as well as on a number of other countries, including our close neighbors Canada and Mexico. And the question remains for most people: Is he really intent on carrying out the threat (the first tariffs are to take effect on July 6) or is this merely an “in-your-face” negotiating tactic to cut a better deal for the United States? We probably won’t know until the last moment, but a number of things seem to be clear.