The Book in a Nutshell
In 1910, a small group of individuals that made up over a quarter of the world’s wealth met and gathered on a small island off the coast of Brunswick to agree the blueprint for the Federal Reserve. In The Creature from Jekyll Island, Edward Griffin forensically set outs the dangers of the Federal Reserve, fiat money and the fractional-reserve banking system. Through its capacity to create money from nothing, Griffin argues that the Federal Reserve is not only incapable of achieving its stated objectives, but instead creates economic instability, encourages war, and ultimately acts as an instrument of totalitarianism.
Book Summary: The Key Ideas
#1: Seven Reasons to Abolish the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve should be abolished because it is incapable of accomplishing its stated objectives, operates for private interests and functions as a fiat money system. Through its mechanism of creating money from nothing, it generates our most unfair tax (inflation), encourages war and ultimately acts as an instrument for totalitarianism.
#2: The Natural Laws of Money and the Mandrake Mechanism. Fractional and fiat money systems always degenerate into economic chaos. They depend on the Mandrake mechanism, which describes the process by which government debt gets converted into money from nothing.
#3: The Rothschild Formula. The Federal Reserve has given the most powerful in society a formidable tool in their manipulation of geopolitics. Throughout the last 400 years, powerful families have played both sides of war for their own financial gain.
#4: The Federal Reserve and Global Tyranny. The Federal Reserve plays an important role in a broader agenda of global socialism. Through the IMF and World Bank development loans and the growing footprint of the UN, there is a conscious long-term effort to move towards a world fiat currency (under IMF/World Bank framework) and a world government (under UN framework).
Book Notes: The Key Ideas in Detail
The below are more detailed book notes on the key ideas from The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin. These notes are not an endorsement nor a critique. They also do not by any means cover the full breadth of the book and are instead intended as an introduction to the key themes, from which to decide whether to read the full book.
Key Idea #1: Seven Reasons to Abolish the Federal Reserve
Throughout the book, Griffin makes the case for seven reasons to abolish the Federal Reserve.
Reason 1: It is incapable of accomplishing its stated objectives. Griffin suggests this is exemplified by the failure to achieve economic stability (e.g. the Great Crash 1929, recession of 1950s, etc.).
Reason 2: It is not a protector of the public, but a cartel operating against the public interest. As is the nature of a cartel, its design ensures that the public always bears the cost. Griffin argues that the unstated primary objective of the cartel on Jekyll Island was to use the government to transfer responsibility for losses from banks to taxpayers. The “for-the-public-good” argument could make banks “too big to fail”.
“We must not forget the phrase “lender of last resort” means that the money is created out of nothing resulting in the confiscation of wealth through inflation.”
Reason 3: It is the supreme system of usury. Griffin defines usury as “the charging of interest on a loan of fiat money”. This distorts a true process of lending as it depends on the creation of debt and money from nothing.
Reason 4: It generates our most unfair tax (inflation). Through the creation of government debt and issuance of money from nothing, the Federal Reserve debases the US dollar and creates inflation in the economy. This has disproportionate impacts on those who own the least tangible assets, and distorts the field of economic play.
Reason 5: It encourages war. The fiat monetary system of the Federal Reserve funded World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. Similarly, the Bank of England’s creation funded wars since 1694. Griffin argues that most of these wars would have either not occurred at all, or greatly reduced in severity, without the system of fiat money.
“It is the ability of governments to acquire money without direct taxation that makes modern warfare possible, and a central bank has become the preferred method of accomplishing that.”
Reason 6: It destabilises the economy. The fractional reserve banking system has led to a record of boom and bust, inflation, bank failure, and currency collapse. Fed policies led to the Great Depression, with a spiral of monetary expansion and contraction leading to a final bubble.
“As long as men are given the power to tinker with the money supply, they will strive to circumvent the natural laws of supply and demand.”
Reason 7: It is an instrument of totalitarianism. The chain of events that leads to global government and socialism starts with the Federal Reserve and fiat monetary system. To paraphrase Griffin, fiat money leads to government debt, which leads to inflation, which destroys economies, and provides the excuse for escalating government power and ultimately, totalitarianism.
Key Idea #2: The Natural Laws of Money and the Mandrake Mechanism
Griffin defines money as “something which is accepted as a medium of exchange”. This can broadly be divided into four categories:
- Commodity money: Usually money backed by metals, chosen throughout history for their non-perishability, divisibility and measurability. As Griffin argues, “Prices become automatically stable under a commodity money system, and this is particularly true under a gold standard.”
- Receipt money: Paper money with a promise of backing to commodity (usually gold).
- Fiat money: Paper money not backed by gold or silver. Griffin notes that throughout history all such currencies have failed, ending in civil disobedience, hyperinflation and economic chaos.
- Fractional money: The pooling and lending of money, even if not available for lending.
To illustrate the importance of understanding these four categories, Griffin sets out what he calls four “natural laws” of money.
- Law 1: “Long-term price stability can only be assured with gold or silver-backed money free from government interference.”
- Law 2: “To enjoy economic prosperity and political tranquility, monetary powers of politicians must be limited to maintaining the integrity of measures of precious metals.”
- Law 3: “A nation that resorts to fiat currency dooms itself to economic hardship and political disunity.”
- Law 4: “Fractional money will always degenerate into fiat money.”
The US dollar and just about every national currency are now fiat money systems. Via their central banks, they operate by using what Griffin calls the “Mandrake mechanism”.
The Mandrake mechanism describes the process by which the Fed turns debt into money. It is a chain of events that results in an overall expansion of money supply (money backed by nothing). The cycle is exacerbated by the fractional reserve ratios operated by commercial banks. Ultimately, it leads to greater and greater boom and bust cycles.
Key Idea #3: The Rothschild Formula
The Rothschild family has played both sides of war for financial gain since the 1800s. Central banks have enabled this model, which Griffin calls the Rothschild formula.
The Rothschild formula has several important steps:
- War is the ultimate discipline of any government.
- To ensure governments maintain and expand debt, it must therefore be involved in war or other crisis of similar magnitude.
- By financing the enemy, a credible threat of war can be created from another side.
- Governments that decline to finance war through debt are eliminated by financing opposition and revolution. (Here Griffin uses the example of Napoleon Bonaparte.)
- To sustain this process, both sides are financed to ensure the perpetual threat of war.
Griffin suggests that the application of this formula is visible in close study of the World Wars, Bolshevik revolution, US Civil War and numerous other wars since the 1700s.
In particular, some longstanding players have been at the heart of the financing and orchestration of this chaos. Griffin points to the influential Rockefeller, Rothschild and Morgan families. He also points to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) which Griffin suggests is even more powerful than the federal government because most of the key positions in US government are occupied by its members.
Key Idea #4: The Federal Reserve and Global Tyranny
One of Griffin’s central arguments is that the Federal Reserve plays its part in an objective of global socialism. As world reserve currency, the Mandrake mechanism has international implications and plays a role in funding IMF and World Bank objectives.
While the announced goals of the IMF and World Bank relate to facilitating trade and stabilizing exchange rates, Griffin claims that their real objective is “world socialism”. Led by Fabian socialists, their establishment would aim to ultimately have a world currency with the IMF as central bank.
To achieve this end, the World Bank has issued loans to governments at the expense of free enterprise.
“The hidden reality behind so-called development loans is that America and other industrialized nations are being saturated by that process. That is not an accident; it is the essence of the plan. A strong nation is not likely to surrender its sovereignty.”
As IMF loan recipients become more dependent on this cash flow, they become components in the plan for world socialism. Groomed leaders are giving up their countries’ autonomy and sovereignty in exchange for privilege and power.
To achieve global socialism, institutions such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) advocate the Fabian strategy of gradualism. This involves gradually and systematically eroding national sovereignty.
The creation of associations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Trilateral Commission (TLC) have sought to accelerate these aims.
In short, Griffin argues that both developed countries (through issuance of loans) and developing countries are being economically damaged by World Bank/IMF loan programmes. Policymakers label these loans as attempts to solve poverty, but they are really a financial racket. This is all part of a conscious effort to move towards a world fiat currency (under IMF/World Bank framework) and a world government (under UN framework).
You can buy the book here or you can find more of our book notes here. For further related reading, try The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek and The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver.