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Money, Debt and Value

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1
    Money is both a measure of value and an IOU for your input into the economy. Sometimes money is considered a store of value but value is subjective based on our personal tastes which are based upon our means. Money is often created in the form of debt by either governments or banks borrowing money from central banks. This gives banks and governments an uncompetitive advantage with regards to their cost of borrowing. In an inflationary economy (A boom) the cost of goods may rise faster then the interest rate, and people who can borrow cheaper then this inflation are guaranteed to make money purely based upon their position in society rather then their contribution to the economy.

    While to some extend money needs to be controlled to avoid scams it does not need to be controlled by a single entity. Technology allows us to quickly exchange commodities at minimal cost. Consequently, it is not necessary for the government or central bank to be the sole issuer of money. Alternatively, consumers and companies could choose the currency that best suites them to do business. A currency can be created based on standard baskets of goods. Companies could borrow based on the currency that best matches the products in order to minimize the impact of market swing on the company.

    Reserves at these currency issuing institutions could be promissory notes buy produces for a given value of their product. The amount a company could borrow from the currency issuing institutions would be based upon the value of their production, the size of their assets, and their fiscal health.
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  3. Jul 6, 2010 #2
    By investing in what? As far as I know, every commodity inflates faster as more investors buy in. Then it reaches a point where the price is so high that people start to speculate it won't sell at that price, at which point they try to sell before the bubble bursts, which causes the bubble to burst and the price to deflate.

    You could be borrowing money for free, but if you buy in too high and aren't able to sell before the bursting bubble deflates the price below what you bought it at, you will lose money.

    The best way to look at money, imo, is as a means to reduce people to slavery when they have lost it all. By this I mean that someone who has expended their means of postponing undesirable work reaches the end of their credit line, they have to take whatever job is available to them to pay off their debt. Since there are myriad forms of underpaid, undesirable labor, it is important for the economy to reduce people to the point of needing to take on this work, or else no one would want to do it.

    Interestingly, the means of reducing people to poverty is driven by competition for money. Profits are increased by reducing wages as low as possible and getting the highest possible price for products and services. From the consumer point of view, this amounts to having to pay as much out as possible from income that is kept as low as possible. When people find a way out of this "squeeze," it is by raising their income, usually by figuring out a way to sell more of some commodity at a higher price or a way to get more done by paying less out to other people. In other words, the way people make money is to take it away from other people in any way possible.

    Once sufficient people are impoverished, it provides the means of recruiting labor into the jobs that no one wants to do but many people are willing to pay to consume. People may not like working in fast-food, but when you see all those cars lined up in the drive-thru you know that there's an economic interest in getting their money - so there has to be a way to motivate people to apply to work there.

    Reduce demand for undesirable labor, and you reduce the need to for the economy to generate poverty.
  4. Jul 7, 2010 #3


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    Could you check my fix of your grammar in that sentence and go into some more detail about how these "currency issuing institutions" work? It sounds to me like you're saying a company would buy futures contracts for commodities, then issue currency based on the value of those commodities....but where would it get the money to buy the commodities in the first place?

    The whole post seems pretty odd and the idea of decentralizing currency sounds like an exceedingly bad idea. Moreover, you don't say anything about any flaws in the current system that would necessitate a replacement, nor benefits of the system you propose that would make people want to adopt it instead of what we have now. The fact that something can be done tells us nothing at all about whether it should be. You're proposing a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.... That's probably why the reading of it seems odd - the idea is missing most of what is needed to properly develop it.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  5. Jul 7, 2010 #4
    I think there are already global counterfeiting operations that escape control. I heard that there is a large national government that has even developed dollar-printing capabilities - although this could just as well be propaganda BS. Still, I'm not so sure that decentralized currency-printing would change much. I think as long as a significant number of people are kept impoverished, the labor pool to serve everyone with overflowing cash-fountains is maintained. Now, if all the service workers got ahold of unlimited cash reserves, that might alter the economy somewhat.
  6. Jul 7, 2010 #5


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    But what would back the currency? What reserves to back currency would people with no resources have?
  7. Jul 7, 2010 #6
    No, all I meant was that if service workers would have an unlimited source of printed money, they would quit their jobs and no one would be there to fry anyone's fries for them. But as long as a sufficient number of people are kept poor enough to take those jobs, I think it wouldn't matter how much money everyone else had and spent because the service-workers would just fry their hearts out until their shift was over.
  8. Jul 8, 2010 #7
    Your grammer correction is correct.
    I hadn't thought of it that way but that makes sense.

    The currency issuing institution exchanges currency for futures contracts with the producer. When the produce sells the goods, the produce must either return the currency to the issuing institution or issue new contracts to the institution.

    I'll address these points more later. Some problems with our current money supply are:
    It is unstable (market cycles)
    It can be manipulated (fed)
    Savings are taxable though quantitative easing
  9. Jul 8, 2010 #8


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    Seriously? Why would a futures contract seller want to do such a thing? Heck, I'll go print some money right now if you'll let me exchange it for your car!

    Just printing money doesn't make it have value. For your idea to work, these currency issuing institutions must have a way to guarantee/stabilize the value of their currency. Otherwise, the currency issuing institution is exchanging something with no value (the paper money I just printed) for something with value (your car), which they can then just turn around and sell for a profit.
    You've got the issue backwards. These problems are made better by a centralized money supply and worse by a decentralized one. They are much of the reason we nationalized our currency in the first place!
    I'm not sure what you mean by that, but the government can tax literally anything the courts will allow it to tax. Centralized or decentralized money is irrelevant.
  10. Jul 9, 2010 #9
    If I can redeem that money later for an equivalent car then why not. Or even better if I can earn interest on that money and buy an even better car latter then bonus. The futures contract issuer would do that because there would be less counter party risk in the currency it is exchanged for then the original future contract because of the reputation of the issuing institution. The contract issuer would also do it because the money he or she would receive in return would be more liquid and hence more useful in paying his operating cost.

    I never said it did. The fact that it had value would be contingent on the issuing institutions ability and reputation to redeem that currency for the commodity it is backed by.

    The currency is stabilized based on how much of the commodity can be produced.

    They wouldn't be able to sell it all for a profit because they would have reserve requirements and when they exchange the future contracts for cash this can be done in such a way to remove an equivalent amount of money from circulation.


    Central banks have not proven themselves in their ability to eliminate the market cycle. You putting your faith in centralized institutions to act in your best interest when you posses now power too influence their actions.
  11. Jul 9, 2010 #10


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    Because you can't exchange it later for an equivalent car. That's the whole point. There is more to the value of money than the number printed on it. The people who you want to use it have to believe it has value or they won't use it.
    That's circular. You're saying the company has a reputation which makes the currency have value as an explanation of how the company gets the reputation. In the real world, this would not happen. How could you possibly believe that a 3rd party would consider the money I print off my printer to actually have value?
    No. Currency is stabilized by confidence in the stability of the underlying agency that created the money, which is precisely why bigger is better. If I give you a R$10,000 bill and you give me a car, that means the car was worth R$10,000 to you, but it doesn't mean that other people will agree.
    I never said they have. But you're missing a key point here: something similar to what you are suggesting has already been tried and has proven to not work, which is why we have what we have now. There is no need to speculate - we already know from history that what you suggest is an inferior system.
    I vote.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  12. Jul 9, 2010 #11
    No. Money the set of assets in an economy that people regularly use to buy goods and services from other people.

    It has three functions:

    1. A medium of exchange - an item that buyers give to sellers when they want to purchase goods and services
    2. A unit of account - the yardstick people use to post prices and record debts
    3. A store of value - an item that people can use to transfer purchasing power from the present to the future

    Of course, money is not the only store of value in the economy, for a person can also transfer purchasing power from the present to the future by holding other assets. The term wealth is used to refer to the total of all stores of value, including both money and nonmonetary assets.

    The term liquidity describes the ease with which an asset can be converted into the economy’s medium of exchange. Because money is the economy’s medium of exchange, it is the most liquid asset available. Other assets vary widely in their liquidity. Most stocks and bonds can be sold easily with small cost, so they are relatively liquid assets. By contrast, selling a boat, an Andy Warhol modern art piece or a Michael Jackson diamond glove requires more time and effort, so these assets are less liquid.

    When people decide in what form to hold their wealth, they have to balance the liquidity of each possible asset against the asset’s usefulness as a store of value. Money is the most liquid asset, but it is far from perfect as a store of value. When prices rise, the value of money falls. In other words, when goods and services become more expensive, each dollar in your wallet can buy less.
  13. Jul 10, 2010 #12
    If the institution issuing it, guarantees it is redeemable for an equivalent value of a commodity then it has value. The value is based upon the commodity it is backed by and the confidence the market has that the institution can meet these obligations.

    If by printing the money you are obligated to redeem it for an agreed upon quantity of a commodity then the value that paper would hold would depend upon the confidence the market had on your ability to meet this obligation.

    I agree but I'm not sure how your point contradicts my arguments. All it suggests is that a car would be a difficult product to use to back a currency with. That doesn't mean it is is impossible.

    Are you either reffing to the gold standard or the Breeton woods agreement? Nixon got rid of Breeton woods so he could borrow more money to finance the Vietnam war. Since then their has been a considerable expansion of both public and private debt. I hardly consider this a positive consequence. As for the the gold standard, the great depression lead to the removal of the gold standard. I would like to discuss the reasons why it failed to prevent the great depression in another thread. However, the removal of the gold standard also resulted in an expansion of debt.
  14. Jul 10, 2010 #13


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    So the company owns commodities - lots of them - before it issues currency? Like a big stash of gold in a vault somewhere? You didn't say that before.

    How does the currency issuing institution buy itself a large quantity of physical gold? With US dollars? Where does it get them?

    Unless you're still thinking circularly:
    No, the car is not the backing of the currency: I used the currency to buy the car. The currency has to have value before I buy the car.
    Further back. Long before we had a national currency, we had state and local currencies. They were consolidated largely because of the problems you describe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_American_currency
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
  15. Jul 11, 2010 #14

    I believe you are suggesting not to use fiat money rather suggesting backing it up with some commodity like gold. So, money will be based on the market value of commodity.

    I remember reading about the benefits of commodity money but I believe with fiat money it is easier to implement fiscal policies to stabilize short term instabilities. Note that Central bank is independent of government and it's role is to have stable economic growth not serving government/banks.
  16. Jul 11, 2010 #15

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    Hence the saying, "not worth a continental". (Something I was trying to work in using a Lincoln Continental in Mr. Creighto's example)
  17. Jul 11, 2010 #16


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    Even before that, there were bank-issued "currencies," hence the term "banknote."
  18. Jul 11, 2010 #17
    Isn't it just logical that no piece of paper is worth anything unless it is recognized as corresponding to something that does have value? What would you call any institution that guarantees that a piece of paper can be exchanged for something else of value except a "bank?" The term seems self-referential to me.
  19. Jul 31, 2010 #18
  20. Aug 14, 2010 #19


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    Companies already do this. Disney issues Disney Dollars, which can only be redeemed for Disney products. All our central banking system does is create one currency that is considered legal tender that, by law, has to be accepted by any vendor in the United States. That's the only advantage of owning US dollars rather than Disney Dollars; they're more widely accepted. You can redeem them for a greater variety of products with intrinsic value.

    What you seem to be suggesting is we do away with the notion of legal tender entirely and makes all debts settled solely by whatever means of exchange the two parties agree upon and only by that means. That's fine, but you have to realize the huge advantage the existence of the dollar provides us. Many world currencies use a fixed exchange rate pegged to the dollar, allowing for relative predictability in the import/export markets. Also, doing away with legal tender would absolutely wreck our domestic equity markets. Consider that the major challenge of international finance is accounting for exchange rate risk in addition to business risk and financial risk. If you needed to account for exchange rate risk for every single existing domestic company individually, increasing the number of exchange rates literally into the millions, investing in any sane manner would become damn near impossible and capital markets for businesses would become so volatile that required returns would skyrocket, meaning the market values of firms would drop like a stone in the Pacific.

    Now, I realize you're suggesting issuing currencies for different commodity classes and not for individual companies, but that still becomes a very large number and I don't think the hypothetical advantages you're imagining would offset the disadvantages.

    Also, the theoretical opportunities for banks and governments to engage in arbitrage by taking advantage of their low cost of borrowing are rendered moot by legal restrictions on arbitrage.
  21. Aug 14, 2010 #20
    The level that this idea would work on is for stimulation of local economic transactions. If, for example, local governments wanted to address unemployment by coining currency and putting people to work doing whatever, the products of their labor could be exchanged in terms of the local currency and those holding the currency could decide what it was worth relative to US$'s.

    So, for example, if I work on a local farm and my neighbor works in a local furniture factory, I might be able to sell her 10 units of food in exchange for a couch or table she makes. Likewise, she could get food for her table instead of having to compete with translocal furniture suppliers. Ultimately the question would be if either of us could produce food or furniture with so little inputs to out-produce our expenditures. If she had access to local wood and materials, and I had access to sufficient local farm labor (oxen or horses, for example, to till the fields), then we could theoretically come out ahead, assuming we would be unemployed otherwise.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  22. Aug 18, 2010 #21
    If you want the currency to have value, you have to have an economy to back it up. If we want America to have a stronger dollar, we need to start making things again. We need stronger manufacturing and we need to correct trade imbalances. Money has to be backed up by real assets, which include goods and services production.
  23. Aug 18, 2010 #22
    Has it occurred to you that the housing surplus that resulted from the boom would be a big export opportunity if in-migration was allowed? I hate to even mention this because there seems to be so much xenophobia for migration - and even when people don't fear or hate "foreigners," they want to exploit them in favor of "real Americans." I might be assuming a majority from a vocal minority, though. Anyway, the point is that imo people want to move to the US from everywhere and the real estate is there to facilitate it BUT I think the main fear of the US globally has to do with the vast gap between rich and poor. So I would say the thing that would stimulate people to start bringing their money to the US economy globally again would be if the housing surplus was first resolved to eliminate homelessness and then opened up for global in-migration. Boy, I must sound like a raving liberal to some people for saying that, huh?
  24. Aug 18, 2010 #23


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    You think illegal immigrants can buy multi-million dollar homes? You think they can even buy mid-market new homes when legal Americans can't? You think unemployed workers or workers below the poverty level with no credit can buy even an old decrepit home?
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  25. Aug 18, 2010 #24
    What the heck has this devolved into?
  26. Aug 19, 2010 #25
    I don't know which exact class/ethnic intersection you have in mind, but do you realize this world is very big and there are a lot of people with lots of money globally? Much of the anti-Americanism globally is nothing more than the idea that the US is a problem because it has so much wealth and at the same time such a large gap between rich and poor. Such people prefer to live in Europe because they perceive social-economic differences to be less pronounced there, whether that belief is founded or not.

    Currenlty multi-million dollar homes aren't going to be multi-million dollar homes anymore because 300k homes are not going to fetch that amount. There is a housing market glut that isn't going to go away. Even if people were to go nuts and start destroying entire regions, the bubble has been burst. The bubble was a psychological belief in the endless appreciation of real-estate. It began as growth but eventually turned into perception-driven appreciation/inflation.

    At this point, the only thing that would really get the real-estate market moving is if some people gained renewed hope in the US. Existing residence are a lost cause - they never had hope in the first place- only hope for their property price to appreciate and thereby make a profit. There are people all over the world who still have hope and faith in freedom, etc. These people would be willing to invest in a US life if they approved of the US social economy. I'm hesitant to say this, because I think existing US residents would attempt to exploit them by getting their investment money and discriminating in hiring and business, but I am cynical because this seems to happen everywhere globally.

    Nevertheless, I would like to see the world get fixed and for people to develop a positive view of global economic freedom again. I can't imagine living in the spirit of competitive protectionism and consumption-driven fiscal stimulus GDP for the rest of eternity.
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