Grip of Death – Michael Rowbotham

    Colin Whitmill reviews: It’s best to take this book one chapter at a time to aid absorbing its powerful, logical arguments against the problem of debt-based finance.

    An immediate and positive response to the challenges it presents will likely have hands reaching for wallets, purses, piggy-banks, direct debit forms and cheque books to aid those fighting for the sane reforms which Mike Rowbotham suggests.

    He explores the simple method of creation, not of money, but of debt and how it affects multi-national companies, farmers, consumers, in fact everyone. The only debt-free money created in Britain — coins and notes — is 3 per cent of the total supply.


    A reader of this valuable contribution to monetary and economic debate will be much better able to see through the rhetoric and flummery masquerading as wisdom emanating from politicians, conventional economists and news media experts.

    The author notes that “our government officials, political economists and newspaper columnists appear intellectually content with the current arrangements, oblivious to the depth of crisis that economics presents to the world.

    “They still happily argue about the dangers of ‘overheating’ or needing to ‘cool off’, as if an economy that functions along the lines of a domestic boiler or kitchen toaster provides an acceptable basis for co-ordinating human activity.”

    “It is assumed by everyone — and clearly by economists — that money is a neutral and accurate medium; that money does no more than reflect the economic facts.

    “It is assumed by almost everyone that the financial figures provide an accurate statement of our affairs. All the economists, politicians, businessmen and industrial experts agree, so we simply must cut expenditure, become more competitive, improve productivity, start new enterprises, create more jobs, export more to other countries. They are saying the same in …” (and here you can list every country you can think of).

    The author explains that modern money actually operates within its own detached and limited mathematical world. It projects its own version of ‘the facts’; its own version of an economy; its own reality. It tells us what we can and cannot do; it tells us what we can and cannot afford. But these amount to demonstrably false, irrelevant and misleading ‘facts’.


    He observes that “every budget and every election is dominated by spending plans, spending cuts, savings made here, and accusations of money wasted there. ‘The other party’s spending plans don’t add up’ they all chorus. Scores of economists and political commentators then huddle round their calculators to check whether one party’s promises have more financial credibility than the other’s. With a triumphant shout, the claim is made that ‘there isn’t enough money’… So we can’t do it. Money is trusted. Money is accepted as the final arbiter. Money is the overall economic truth; the limiting reality. And if there isn’t enough money, well that’s that …

    “For any one person not to have enough money is rational; for an entire economy constantly not to have enough money, and thereby prevented from doing what it is clearly capable of doing, is absurd.”

    Let’s not be taken in by the cries of we must have economic growth, inward investment, or the bleating for more jobs. The reality, a simple counting of numbers, will show that there is not, and never can be — under the debt finance system — enough money to pay off the debts.

    Rowbotham explains how the only way to provide economic improvement — under the debt finance system — is to create more and more debt, but it is a false way, as the time of reckoning has to come eventually.

    In order to prevent bankruptcy, manufacturers, shop owners, the self-employed and others, who are all in debt, must stay one step ahead of ruin by winning, at the expense of others, and maintaining “market share”.

    The family run corner shop is threatened because bigger firms have caught up with their advantage of being open all hours. Flexible working hours, and all the other encroachments upon leisure time, social time and rest time have all given added advantage over rivals in the fight for “market share”.

    Other opportunities for advantage over competitors are low wages and tax breaks. This fight for “market share” and money to stave off bankruptcy is echoed in the international market — that’s why we have the WTO and MAI to enable strong nations and multi-nationals to exploit advantages. It’s all caused by the debt finance system.


    The chapter on Export Warfare gives an understanding of why conventional economists and politicians bleat about exports.

    Being a net exporter means the economy is vigorous and healthy, although effectively losing real wealth with a net outflow of goods because it provides a supply of “debt free money boosting domestic purchasing power”.

    “The modern battle over exports is really nothing to do with trade at all. It is a battle for sales growth and solvency in a world dominated by debt.”


    The author is more charitable towards those who operate conventional economics than perhaps others may be inclined.

    The trouble, as the author finds, is that “the majority of politicians and officials who operate financial systems, like the majority of economists, simply do not understand it. Or, at least, they understand it only from their limited perspective and on their own terms.”

    While some see the control of the world in the hands of a scurrilous banker cartel, the Bank of International Settlements, the secretive Bilderberg group and so on, the author rejects the concept of a conspiracy. If there is a conspiracy, then he argues it is one of error. What dominates the world, he believes, is a philosophy that economic problems can best be solved by “experts”, not by those directly affected. The errant philosophy is that where the policy fails, it is not decentralisation that is needed, but more centralisation. “All this boils down to the belief that those in power know best.”

    But Rowbotham does not always dispel charitable largesse towards those instigators and defenders of the status quo. In a typical concern for those in need, he thunders: “How dare the government force the elderly to sell off their houses or connive to make them pay insurance they cannot afford. It is quite unjustified to seek to impose any charge for care on today’s elderly when they have been paying [tax] all their lives on the understanding that, should they need care in their old age, it would be available. The only reason we cannot find this care is because this is a debt economy run on a scarcity of money and our financial statements do not reflect what we can really achieve.”


    The chapter on inflation is worth the price of the book alone. The author states that “inflation is not caused by too much money; it is caused by too much debt-money.”

    He comments: “The whole principle of changing from a debt-based to a credit-based economy [i.e. one supplied with adequate debt-free money] is that money needs to be created, both to provide a stable money stock and to allow repayment of excessive debts.

    “As long as it is created free of debt, distributed in the right way, and with parallel supporting measures, such money can be created in complete safety. It will not cause inflation and will simply support the functioning of the economy. The debt-free money distributed as a basic income would not cause spiraling inflation, runaway inflation, soaring inflation, hyper or mega inflation, or supa-dupa-cosmic inflation with flashing lights and sirens. It will not cause inflation because, in a modern economy, inflation is not caused by too much money …”

    It is of course not enough to discover the faults in the monetary system. The onus is to suggest an alternative approach, and Rowbotham provides.

    Over several years I have studied the written contributions of many social crediters and monetary reformers. This excellent production puts into one volume their combined basic thinking, logic and positive solutions. It is a modern exposition of just what is wrong with our financial system, how it occurred, why it occurred and how the errors can be corrected to benefit all people.

    Knowledge is said to be power. And this book gives ordinary folk that power to challenge the economic “wisdom” which emanates from the minds and mouths of Treasury and IMF mandarins. If the mandarins read this book, they may realise they’ve been wrong all along. But are their minds closed?


    Richard Dymond reviews:

    If you ever wondered where money comes from, how it’s created, and why it’s created in the way it is, then The Grip of Death is for you.

    This book explains how the banking system is actually a form of institutionalised fraud, based on the original activities of goldsmiths who would lend more “money” than they actually had on deposit. The only reason we accept the system without a second thought seems to be that it has the weight of tradition behind it. But the weight of tradition is not enough to justify its validity, as the author shows.

    This book explains how we have come to regard money — or more precisely, the absence or presence of it — as an indicator of what work can be done or “afforded”.

    The government closes hospitals and schools down because of lack of money. Does that mean there are suddenly not sufficient people with sufficient ability and sufficient willingness to keep these hospitals and schools running? Of course not! All it means is that the government mistakenly believes that “lack of money” equals “we can’t do it”.

    We have become slaves to the economy, when instead we should be its master. The author shows how we can achieve our freedom.

    This book explains how attempts by a government to reduce the national debt, under the present system, can be disastrous for the economy, and why those countries with the largest national debts are those who have achieved the greatest economic success. Sounds paradoxical? It isn’t at all, once you understand what the national debt is and how banks create money.

    This book explains why projects in developing countries funded by the likes of the World Bank and the IMF are destined to fail, and how the only beneficiaries of interest payments made on third-world debt are commercial banks which created — out of nothing — the money that formed the original loans.

    This book explains how the boom-and-bust cycle is a necessary consequence of the way in which the vast majority of money in a nation’s economy is created by banks as a debt.

    One way to escape this cycle is to turn our economy from a debt-based to a credit-based one.

    How? A simple solution, involving the creation of debt-free money by the government, is suggested. If anybody should question whether it is “fair” that the government create such money, let them ask this question: Is it “fair” that we should let private institutions create, with no effort on their part, and then charge us for using — in the form of interest payments on debt — 97% of the money in our economy?

    The government has a right to create its own money debt-free, and it should exercise that right.

    In short, this book is one of the most eye-opening, informative and inspiring books you could wish to read about money and its origins.

    The Grip of Death is available for £15 payable to Jon Carpenter Publishing at Alder House, Market Street, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. OX7 3PH