Wheat and water — money is just information, it’s not real wealth

Pavan Sukhdev in 2009 made a strange comparison here between the loss of notional capital during the banking crisis and the ongoing loss of actual capital such as forests. According to the SAPA news story

The world was losing as much potential capital annually through the destruction of forests as was wiped off the major markets in last year’s financial crisis, an economist warned on Friday. […] He said the current pace of forest loss meant a potential economic cost of the order of two to $4.5 trillion a year. “In other words, if we continue business as usual that’s how much natural capital we are throwing down the tube,” he said. That was comparable to the amount of capital lost by Wall Street and City firms when the worst financial crisis in the history of the world hit in 2008.

According to Hakim Bey

Information in the form of culture can be called wealth metaphorically because it is useful and desirable – but it can never be wealth in precisely the same basic way that oysters and cream, or wheat and water, are wealth in themselves. Information is always only information about some thing. Like money, information is not the thing itself. Over time we can come to think of money as wealth (as in a delightful Taoist ritual which refers to “Water and Money” as the two most vital principles in the universe), but in truth this is sloppy abstract thinking. It has allowed its focus of attention to wander from the bun to the penny which symbolizes the bun. In effect we’ve had an “information economy” ever since we invented money. But we still haven’t learned to digest copper.

According to Wikipedia

According to Silvio Gesell, all human-produced goods are subject to expensive storage, whereas money is not: Grain loses its weight, metal products rust, housing deteroriates. Therefore money has a supreme advantage over all other goods. John Maynard Keynes found another effect, which he deemed more important: liquidity preference. Being “liquid” with money is a great advantage to anybody, much more so than having comparable amounts (past utility) of any product. The result is that people will not even provide zero-risk, inflation corrected credits unless a certain interest rate is offered. Freigeld simply reduces this ‘primordial’ interest rate, which is estimated to be somewhere around 3% to 5%, by an absolute, in order to lower the average interest rate to a value around 0.

According to the dek of “The second economy” via Sean Murphy’s blog

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible — thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

See also these ( 1 2 ) summaries of the most recent Singularity Summit.

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1 Comment

  1. “Productivity is the only savings the future can have. Training and education and investment are the only tools with future utility. The future economy will have to produce what is needed at that time in order for there to be any ‘wealth’. You can’t save education or healthcare or corn, you have to keep growing the resources to provide it, human resources and top soil for instance.”

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