Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Central banks have unloaded trillions of dollars of stimulus in efforts to push inflation above 2% in countries from the U.S. to Japan and across the eurozone, but nothing seems to be working.

Driving the news: One radical idea that could boost spending and help resuscitate moribund economies is Silvio Gessell's proposal for depreciating money, writes Stephen Mihm, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, in an editorial for Bloomberg.

What it means: Money, if not spent, would lose its value by 5% a year. That would encourage people to spend, rather than hold onto it. Such a plan would radically boost the "velocity" of money, giving a major boost to developed economies where services account for a hefty majority of economic growth.

  • "In Gesell's formulation, money became a 'hot potato' that note holders tried to use before it lost value," Mihm writes. "As far-fetched as they seem, his writings had practical implications because they pointed a way out of the impasse the world confronted in the Great Depression."

Context: The idea has been tried before. The mayor of Wörgl, Austria, used the town’s funds to put Gesell's depreciating currency into rotation and managed to stimulate a minor boom in the midst of the Great Depression.

  • "The'Wörgl miracle' became the object of immense fascination, and other municipalities copied it — until Austria's central bank became worried about losing its monopoly over issuing currency. Not long afterward, the nation's highest court ruled that 'emergency currency' was illegal."

The intrigue: Depreciating currency has even been studied, by "several academic economists eager to find a way for central banks to circumvent the 'zero bound' in interest rates" as recently as the 1990s.

The bottom line: While it's unlikely the Fed will be jumping on the Gesell bandwagon anytime soon, Mihm says that the idea of a depreciating currency could serve the U.S. and the global economy in the event of another downturn.

  • As central banks have already pushed interest rates into negative territory and governments have increased debts to historically unprecedented levels, unorthodox means may be required to dig the world out of its next hole.

Go deeper: Inside the global economy's "delicate moment"

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”