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UPDATE 3: Swiss voters reject a campaign to radically alter the banking system



* Swiss government said satisfied with result

* Most cantons vote against offers

* Opponents warned of damage to economy (Add end result, official, government comment)

] By John Revill

ZURICH, June 10 (Reuters) – A radical plan to transform Switzerland's financial landscape by preventing commercial banks from generating money electronically when they lend was roundly rejected by Swiss voters on Sunday.

More than three quarters rejected the so-called sovereign money initiative, according to the official result issued by the Swiss government.

All the autonomous cantons of the country also voted against the survey, which needed a majority of the 26 cantons of Switzerland, as well as a simple majority of voters to be successful.

Concerns about the potential risks to the Swiss economy through the introduction of a "vollgeld" or "real money" system seem to have convinced voters to reject proposals.

The Swiss government, which had opposed the plan because of the uncertainties it would unleash, said it was satisfied with the outcome.

"Implementing such a scheme, which would have raised so many questions, would have been difficult without years of problems," said Finance Minister Ueli Maurer.

"The Swiss generally do not like taking risks, and … people have not seen any benefit from these proposals, you can also see that our banking system works … Suspicions against banks have been eliminated in big measure ".

The vote, convened by the Swiss system of direct democracy after gathering more than 100,000 signatures, wanted to make the Swiss National Bank (SNB) the only authorized body to create money in the country.

Contrary to common belief, most money in the world is not produced by central banks, but is created electronically by commercial lenders when they lend beyond the deposits they have as savers.

INFLATION WORRIES

This agreement, backed by the belief that most debts will be repaid, has been a cornerstone of the global capitalist system, but opponents say it is unstable because the money created could exceed the rate of economic growth, which could generate bubbles of inflationary assets.

If approved, Switzerland, famous for its banking industry, would have been the first country in the world to introduce such a scheme, which would lead opponents to label the plan of a dangerous experiment that would damage the economy.

The plan could have had repercussions beyond the borders of Switzerland by eliminating a practice that underpins most of the world's bank loans.

Support for reform had grown in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, and activists said their ideas would improve the security of the financial system and protect people's savings from bank runs.

In addition to the Swiss government, the opposition came from the Swiss National Bank and business groups.

"We are glad that this was an extremely damaging initiative," said Heinz Karrer, president of the Economiesuisse business lobby.

The SNB acknowledged the result and said that the adoption of the initiative would have made it very difficult to control inflation in Switzerland.

"With the conditions now unchanged, the SNB will be able to maintain its monetary policy approach to guarantee price stability, which is an important contribution to the prosperity of our country," he said in a statement.

The activists – a group of academics, former bankers and scientists – said they would continue working to express their concerns.

"The discussion is just beginning," said campaign spokesman Raffael Wuethrich. "Our goal is that the money is at the service of the people and not the other way around, and we will continue working on it". (Reporting by John Revill with additional reports by Angelika Gruber Edition by Keith Weir and Mark Heinrich) [19659025].


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