an introduction to fiat money (pdf) by Steve Randy Waldman:* - "Self-reinforcing bootstrap dynamics hold as strongly for a king's token as it would for any other thing, but much more stably so, since the king can reinforce and assure the stability of his token so long as he retains the political capacity to coerce or persuade payment of tax." (via) [more inside]
A Reddit thread recently broke down the exchange rate between Wizard and Muggle money, and in doing so shed some interesting light on the financial disparity between many of the characters in the Harry Potter universe. [more inside]
In case you missed it Ethereum announced its first developer release a week ago. What is Ethereum? According to the video it's a "planetary scale computer powered by blockchain technology." Given the breathlessness, some skepticism is in order, but what if it purports to do on the tin is true? [more inside]
Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency. Trading at eight dollars this week—and being used to pay for everything from freelance programming jobs to magic mushrooms—it has been described as “the most dangerous open-source project ever created” and “an unambiguous challenge to the government monopoly on the power to print money.” Estimated at over 20 petaFLOPS the Bitcoin network is currently the fastest virtual supercomputer in the world. [more inside]
Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
Meet the new form of prison currency: Honey buns.
"a story of great potential overwhelmed by a genius for acts of pointless economic self-destruction"
People with a keen strategic sense maintain a well-diversified hoard of coins and painstakingly build alliances with local shopkeepers or bank tellers, conspicuously proffering coins for one purchase or deposit in the hopes of being indulged when they're short of change at some point in the future. Argentina's coinage problem. [more inside]
"There are several factors which determine the value of stone money. The first is the number of human lives that were lost on the journey to bring the stone home..." The giant stone coins of Yap were used for hundreds of years before the island experienced inflation of the most literal kind due to the entrepreneurship of a shipwrecked American fugitive. Today, the Yap islanders are trying to save their currency, as well as their caste system; while an economist at the Federal Reserve considers what Yap says about our money. [last link pdf, some html excerpts here]
The Bitchun Society is now open for all of your Whuffie-market needs. Or cynical mocking, take your pick. Via (of course) BoingBoing. Can a brother get a ping? Confused?
Will Currency Wars Effect You? Oldman gives a quick run-through of the geopolitics of America's budget deficit, with some likely scenarios for the next 2-5 years.
What if oil was traded in euros? "Even more alarming, and completely unreported in the U.S. media, are significant monetary shifts in the reserve funds of foreign governments away from the dollar with movements towards the euro. It appears that the world community ... seems poised to respond with economic retribution if the U.S. government is regarded as an uncontrollable and dangerous superpower." An analysis of the previous link. Apologies to those I
How geeks can do away with cash and be their own banks. We've been around the topic of alternative economics a few times before on MeFi, but this piece from the reliably clever Shift makes it all clear to me. How you can do it, and why. And it actually suggests that programmers are the best people to manage a new money system. There's even a Bay Area monetary guru to hand. Does this make as much sense to anyone else as it does to me?