THE PHYSICS OF MONEY
The exchange process without money
The exchange process with money
Suggested method for
uniquely linking newly issued money to
the intrinsic value in real exchangeable items
Suggested changes to the money system
Even though money is a concept created by humans this concept springs from physical reality, hence the above title ‘The Physics of Money’. This reality is actually quite easily grasped by ordinary people. What ordinary people do not see however is the logical connection that exists between money and this everyday reality. In this article I will try to demystify money for the ordinary person by explaining how money plays a role in this ordinary every day reality. Unfortunately money’s role can be either an honest one or a dishonest one. It is the honest role, of course, that we are primarly interested here but reference has to be made to the places where dishonesty is legally practiced.
But first ,what is this everyday reality that I am speaking of?
All life forms, whilst they are alive, have constant exchanges with their environments and these exchanges are vital for the life form’s continued survival.
For us humans an every day example of this would be our breathing which is essential for our continued survival. We inhale into our lungs air containing oxygen in order to infuse the oxygen into our bloodstreams. Simultaneously our lungs extract CO2 from our bloodstreams so that the extracted CO2 can be excreted along with the exhaled air.
The breath is just one of the vital exchanges that we humans are dependent upon for our survival. These vital exchanges can be split into two groups those requiring the involvement of our fellow human beings and those not necessarily involving our fellow humans. The exchanges with our fellows can range from conversations to the exchanges of goods and/or services. Now it is these latter exchanges that we are particularly interested in here because, these days, money plays a central role in them and they too are vital for our continue physical survival. The role that money plays is a facilitative one as will hopefully become clear.
Unfortunately, as metioned above, money can also be created dishonestly. This is because it can be created independent of any actual link to particular real goods or services. Such money, being indistinguishable from honest money, does however play the normal facilitative role of money in exchanges, but it does so dishonestly because it is claiming to represent the intrinsic value in particular goods or services which it simply cannot do because it is not uniquely linked to any particular exchangeable goods or services.
Individuals who put such money into circulation are prosecuted and gaoled, sadly not for their economic crime, e.g. theft , that they have committed, but for usurping the State’s money producing role. This is not to say that the State and its agents do not produce such fraudulent money, they do. The State sees it as its right to do so, publically stating that this is done in order to better manage the economy. Ordinary people have become accustomed to this dishonest practice. There is even an accepted, rather than pejorative, name for it in the USA. It is titled, QE, or quantative easing, by the US Federal Reserve.
Undoubtedly exchanges of goods and services have to take place if we humans are to survive.
In a healthy society these exchanges are voluntarily. Such voluntary exchanges form the rock solid foundation for any healthy economy, the only foundation in fact. This in turn provides the basis for the continued survival of the human community. Basically without such exchanges the members of the human community would die and the community, without members, would cease to exist and so would its economy.
Interestingly such exchanges do not require the use of money but once the concept of money was conceived, money, because of its facilitative utility soon became regarded as a vital part of any exchange process. It came to be viewed in this way because it has the ability to facilitate binary exchanges, enabling them to happen at any time in any place and to include an unknown third party in the process thus widening the possibilities for making exchanges.
The exchange process without money
Two parties A & B agree with one and other to voluntarily exchange two items with one and other, item IA, belonging to A, is swopped with item IB, belonging to B, i.e. the ownership of the two items is exchanged.
It is safe to say that because the exchange was completed voluntarily neither party, although they are now in possession of different items, experienced any loss of value through the transaction. So for each of them the intrinsic values that they accord to IA and IB must be the same. Notice, however, that in an exchange not invoving money the intrinsic values accorded by A do not necessarily have to be the same as those accorded by B.
As already noted such completed exchanges are what make up any healthy economy. They are the indivisible economic events, or atoms, that form the essential building blocks of a healthy economy. We shall call them economic nuggets because they are literally equivalent to gold nuggets in economic terms.
Now if we wish to maintain a healthy economy the formation of economic nuggets must remain the same, even when money becomes part of the exchange process. However the potential for serious disruption of their formation is a very real possibility when newly issued money is introduced into the exchange process. To avoid this happening special preventative measures need to be taken as explained below.
The exchange process with money
Quite simply money is a stand-in, or surrogate, for the intrinsic value of one of the items being exchanged. Clearly if the exchange is to properly form an economic nugget then the money involved in the exchange must be honest, not fraudulent.
For money to act as an honest stand-in it must be old money, i.e. already be representing the intrinsic value of a particular exchangeable item. So if money is not to disrupt the formation of an economic nugget the money must be honest, it cannot just claim to represent intrinsic value, it must uniquely represent the intrinsic value of a real exchangeable item. If not the money is counterfeit in the full meaning of the word. It is pretending to represent an intrinsic value which does not exist because the exchangeable item in which the value should inhere does not exist. The money is thus fraudulent and consequently the formation of a healthy economic nugget is compromised. In economic terms the nugget is, corrupted.
It is essential here to draw a distinction between new money and old money. New money is money that has not yet been uniquely linked to a real intrinsic value. That is the intrinsic value inhering in a real exchangeable item whereas old money has been so linked.
Thus old money, because it cannot help but honestly represent the intrinsic value of existing exchangeable items can never be fraudulent. So when old money is used as the surrogate in the exchange process the formation of an economic nugget will not be compromised in any way.
The problem of corrupted nugget formation occurs when newly issued money is used as a surrogate for an exchangeable item. This is because the newly issued money cannot honestly claim to represent the intrinsic value of an exchangeable item. For it to do so a deliberate effort has got to be made to uniquely link the newly issued money to the intrinsic value of a particular exchangeable item. Once this is done it then becomes old money and can honestly claim to represent the intrinsic value inherent in a real exchangeable item.
Ensuring that this happens will require a change in the way the current money system operates.
Suggested method for uniquely linking newly issued money to the intrinsic value in real exchangeable items.
The intrinsic value that inheres in exchangeable items resides in the heads of the people wanting to make exchanges of the items. It belongs to nobody else.
The workings of the suggested money system are predicated on the above fact. The current money system simply ignores it.
As already pointed out unfortunately once intrinsic values become externalised in the form of money it becomes possible for the externalising agents [i.e. the monetary authorities] to lay false claim to the value in the money. This is a temptation that the authorities have unfortunately succumbed to time and again throughout history.
In previous eras money had to have a physical form and for this reason alone money had to have a central controlling body to oversee its production and issuance. This made it easy for the members of the controlling body to lose sight of the fact that the intrinsic values of exchangable items, externalised in money, actually belonged to the people making the exchanges, not to anybody else particularly the monetary authorities.
In the current era of ubiquitous electronics there is no reason to be bound by the physical constraints of previous eras. Now, provided that an individual has a cell phone, money, both old and new, can be issued electronically to the individual when and where it is needed. The only constraints on this practice will be the ones that are logically neccessary to mantain the honesty of the money.
The banks are already issuing money electronically. They do this by means of credit and debit cards. These cards can be used to make payments at the point of purchase and in due course the money involved in the transaction is transferred electronically from the purchaser’s bank account to the supplier’s bank account.
Unfortunately under the present monetary system before people can make use of these cards they have to have a bank account and for this they have to already have money.
People with little or no money cannot have a bank account, thus a credit or debit card, nor can they enter into voluntary exchanges of goods and services that involve money. This situation is highly undesirable both from an individual and from a societal health point of view.
The situation can be rectified however by adjusting the money system to operate in a different way to that in which it currently operates. This change is not a radical one as the bulk of the money system can remain unchanged.
Suggested changes to the money system
The change will be in how money is created, put into circulation and removed from circulation. Physical money will be discarded completely, replacing it with electronic money. Electronic money, both new and old, will be issued directly to individuals at their point of need. Further more in order to impede the accumulation of money in financial centres individuals will be encouraged to spend their money within their proximate community by levying an ‘out of community’ tax on money spent outside of their proximate community.
The following points list some of the most important changes. Other ones will of course be uncovered as the reformed money system is fully developed.
1. Money is only ever recorded and held in an electronic form. It will no longer exist in any ‘hard copy’ form.
2. Thus the national currency will only need to have a single unit of currency [UoC].
3. An independent National Currency Authority [NCA] will need to be established. It will look after and keep a record of every UoC created.
4. Because each UoC is intended to be representing an economic nugget it will exist as a uniquely identified record on the national currency database [NCDB]. The NCDB wiII be the electronic equivalent of a central bank’s gold holding.
5. The NCA will maintain the NCDB.
6. The NCDB will also contain a recorded history of the identities of the successive holders of each UoC.
7. Through strict controls on the amount of new UoCs issued into circulation at any one time the NCA will ensure that the national currency contains the absolute minimum of new UoCs, and thus the national currency will never be deliberately debased as currently happens.
8. All UoC will be held only on the NCDB. Outside of the NCA they will only appear as the recorded amounts of UoC held by, economically functional entities[EFE’s]. EFE’s are either real persons, or legal persons.
9. The amounts of recorded UoCs held outside of the NCA will, just as is currently the case, require regular auditing to ensure the integrity of the recordings.
10. Every EFE will have to be registered with the NCA before they can be involved in any monetary transactions.
11. Every ‘person’ EFE will have to be recorded as a member of an identified community comprised only of persons proximate to the EFE in question.
12. All ‘legal person’ EFE’s will have to be recorded as members of a single national community.
13. Every EFE will have to have an account with the NCA. These accounts will be maintained by the NCA on a EFE database [EFEDB].
14. Every EFE will be required to have a bank account registered with the NCA.
15. The NCA will keep a record, on the EFEDB, of every UoC, old and, new if any, issued to individual EFEs.
16. Only the NCA will be allowed to issue new UoCs or to remove old UoCs from circulation.
17. The preferred means of EFE access to the NCA will be electronic.This will not preclude face to face or email interaction with the NCA when necessary.
18. It will be essential for the NCA to provide, for every EFE,the means for secure electronic access to the money system.
19. Many positive benefits to individuals and to the community as a whole will arise from a switch to a solely electronic currency thus the State should bear the electronic transmission costs of all monetary transactions between individual EFEs and the NCA. This means that the State will bear the electronic transmission costs between the NCA and banks as they too are EFEs.
20. For those at the lowest levels of the economy cell phones are likely to be the only means of access to the NCA’s systems and thus money. Therefore the State must fund cell phones for EFEs where necessary.
21. Every monetary transaction entered into by an EFE will have to start its life with the NCA.
22. When an EFE wants to make a payment to another EFE the NCA would first check to see if the receiving EFE was a member of the same community as the paying EFE.
22.1. If yes the NCA would ensure that the ‘out of community’ tax register on the transaction was set to zero and proceed to step 23.
22.2. If no the NCA would calculate the tax payable on this ‘out of community’ transaction and put this amount in the ‘out of community’ tax register before proceeding to step 23.
23. The NCA would check to see if the paying EFE had enough funds in its bank account to make the full payment, i.e. transaction plus tax, if any.
23.1. If yes the NCA would first take the tax portion of the transaction, if any, for itself before passing the transaction through to the receiving EFE’s bank account. The tax portion could be used to defray the NCA’s operating costs.
23.2. If no the NCA would fist check to see if the required amount of new money could be issued to the paying EFE. [EFE’s would have an enforced limit on the number of unredeemed new UoCs that could be issued to them.]
23.2.1. If yes it would transfer the new UoCs to the EFE’s bank account and add them to the amount of new, i.e. unredeemed, UoCs issued to the EFE and proceed to step 23.1..
23.2.2. If no it would halt the transaction and inform the paying EFE accordingly.
24. If money from another EFE was to be deposited into the EFE’s bank account then the NCA would first check to see if the recieving EFE has any record of new UoCs issued to it.
24.1 If no then the money would be immediately transferred to the EFE’s bank account.
24.2 If yes the NCA would, before transferring the deposited UoCs to the EFE’s bank account,
24.2.1. Deduct from the deposited UoCs the number of UoCs equivalent to the number of new UoCs previously issued to the EFE and reduce the amount of previously issued new UoCs accordingly.
24.2.2. Pass the remainder of the deposited UoCs, if any, through to the EFE’s bank account.
24.2.3. The deducted, deposited UoCs, would be removed from circulation and placed on hold awaiting their re-issue into circulation through the national treasury.
25. The NCA in conjunction with the Dept of Statistics would constantly monitor the percentage change in the size of the economy.
26. At regular intervals, based on these statistics, the NCA would issue into circulation via the National Treasury the volume of additional UoCs, if any, needed in the economy. These UoCs would come first from the UoCs currently on hold then, if there are insufficient UoCs on hold to meet the need, issue new UoCs. Under these circumstances these new UoCs would not be inflationary.
1. Adherence to procedures 22 to 24 would ensure that newly issued UoCs become old UoCs without corrupting the formation of economic nuggets.
2. The controlled issuing of new money to individuals at the point of need would eliminate cash starved individuals and communities and begin a natural process of eradicating poverty.
3. The elimination of cash starved communities would naturally boost the economy and in due course drastically reduce poverty.
4. The switch to an electronic currency would eliminate the need for
a) the infrastructure established to handle and secure physical money and
b) all the infrastructure’s associated costs.
5.The criminal uses of money would become impossible once the switch to an electronic currency takes place because of suggestions 8, 9 and 10 above.
6. Any criminal activity that flourishes because of the anonymity accorded to the holders of money under the current money system would be threatened once suggestion 6 above is implemented.
Rory Short 2014/04/27