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221  Economy / Economics / Re: BRICS establish $100bn bank, currency pool to cut out Western dominance on: July 21, 2014, 06:42:48 AM
Albert Schweitzer had a different take on this Confucian saying

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"

If I remember correctly (and there seem to be no references to this on the internet?)

The people of West Africa could teach the world how to fish. They live in poverty
because they have no political power, no access to the capital needed to improve
their sea-ports, and because their access to the markets of Europe and North America
is restricted.

Since reading that I have had a jaundiced view of anyone quoting Confucius, and
I now hope the new bank will begin to right the many wrongs inflicted by the IMF and
the World Bank.
222  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: July 19, 2014, 06:08:09 AM
"Major cause in the fall of Rome was rising security costs."

True in the sense that it's not the fall that kills you, but that impact with a hard surface.

A declining GDP and tax base meant they could not afford the needed security,
somewhat like earlier times when they had to pay off barbarians for a quiet life.

The transition to a gold-based currency in Constantinople is interesting though, and
shows that empires can last a long time if the conditions are right.

BTW, if you own bitcoin, Keen's views on the European economy should be of interest:
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2014/06/22/economic-theory-making-europes-crisis-worse-1/

I am still thinking about the implications for bitcoin, but an expanding government
deficit would seem to contradict the need for a fixed quantity of money. Hence the comment
about Constantinople.
223  Economy / Economics / Re: Why did removing the silver content of coins not affect their fungibility? on: June 19, 2014, 06:05:37 AM
"I'm sure the government saw that silver was quickly going to be worth more than the coin itself, hence the reason they ditched the silver minting."

"I'm sure the bankers saw an opportunity to inflict an age-old ponzi scheme
that would, in medieval times, have resulted in the removal of their right
hand and testicle below, hence the reason they ditched the silver minting"

Fixed it for you.

Shamless plug - search for "Learning from Imperial Rome"
224  Economy / Economics / Re: Good business/economy books! on: June 13, 2014, 05:20:50 AM
"Debunking Economics" by Steve Keen is worth looking at first, before you read other
economics texts.

In the same vein, a Warren Buffet quote:
"If you get into a poker game, and after twenty minutes you haven't figured out who the patsy is,
YOU are the patsy"
225  Economy / Economics / Re: Why wont Bitcoin have the same problems as the Gold/US Dollar crisis? on: May 26, 2014, 07:36:46 AM
@OP - Rome had a fixed money supply (gold and silver) between 27BC and, approximately, 4AD.
There were issues in the long term: the price of grain fell because a) the supply increased and
b) realpolitik of bread and circuses; the legions daily pay remained static while purchasing power
increased, (pensions are somewhat complicated here.)
Theoretically, interest rates should have gone to zero, but didn't otherwise banks would have
gone bust as in the reign of Tiberius.

Also worth bearing in mind is the unsuitability of pure gold as a coinage. It is too soft, hence
the need for a near substitiute.

Hence when people point to particular problems with a gold standard, they are, by definition,
being selective, as others have pointed out on this thread. There are problems with
cryptocurrencies and the medium to long term economy that are significantly greater than
those associated with a "gold" standard.   
226  Economy / Economics / Re: Finance Part I: Understanding the Parasite on: April 26, 2014, 08:39:14 PM
@ CoinCube

I'm still inclined to the view that banker behaviour imitates predation, though
a formal and irrefutable proof would be difficult to prepare. There are significant
similarities in the behaviour of parasites and predators, as shown by this paper:
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/pdf/42-3-pp-693-726.pdf
thus it is conceivable that in some specific conditions, there is no difference
between predation and parasitism.

In defence of my view on banking predation, admittedly a single instance -
the banking predator is discussed in the second half of this Max Keiser show E593:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udBFJQqxNiM

Just a fun comment: If you can see a parallell between a fox acquiring the keys to the
henhouse from the farmer in exchange for a handful of counterfeit notes, we are
definitively talking about predation by the bankers.

If you have a particular argument for parasitic behaviour, I will be interested to
read it.
227  Economy / Economics / Re: Finance Part I: Understanding the Parasite on: April 23, 2014, 07:25:06 AM
"It is an ancient and institutionalized form of theft who's perpetrators have managed to convince the masses it is a "natural part of the economy". "

Hmmmm. I would see government as the parasite, favouring stable ongoing symbiotic relationships that enable the maximum to
be extracted from the host without killing it. Banks then function as a competing parasite or as a predator, with the dynamics
favouring the predator (IMHO.) I do not have a reference to hand, but some have suggested that parasite-host-predator systems
accelerate evolution, and that perhaps these systems are "a natural part of" the ecosystem.

I cannot comment on Minsky, and I cannot recall Keen speaking specifically on fractional reserve banking. My own view is
that fractional reserve lending ended when "we" broke the link to gold as the benchmark for money and replaced it with the
US dollar (FRN). Also, when "light touch" regulation was applied, governments gave the "market" the power to decide what bank
leverage ought to be. We now know how well that worked.

As regards your comment on slavery, most people have not begun to see the link between debt and slavery.
228  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: April 21, 2014, 08:02:08 AM
The Byzantine history - I would be very interested to read up on that. The economy of medieval India
was also quite sophisticated, as is any nation exposed to maritime trade.

Just FYI - I'm attempting an extension to my model of the Roman Economy, and it may take some time.
Augustus had the benefit of acquiring silvermines in what is now Spain soon after he became Emperor,
and that may have had the side effect of price inflation toward the end of his reign, thus creating a
crisis that Tiberius dealt with successfully IMHO.
Aurelian and Diocletian found themselves facing price inflation arising from debasement of the silver
coinage and failed to contain the crisis. The reference to seizing gold and silver from the taxpayers
and paying them with fiat currency (the gold content of their coins was less than the face value of
the money) is telling a story.
Modelling that will be challenging.
229  Economy / Economics / Re: Finance Part I: Understanding the Parasite on: April 21, 2014, 07:43:28 AM
Not to disagree entirely with your thesis, but your math is somewhat suspect.

Your PartII seems to suggest a predator-prey model instead of your Parasite-Host thesis.

Have you read any of Professor Keen's work? His models suggest that these cycles
will occur regardless of the intention of any banker actions. Of course they are in the
best position to recognise the state of the system and to maximise their take ;-)

As the scorpion said, "It's in my nature"

I have some thoughts on this also, but not yet ready for discussion.
230  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: April 05, 2014, 09:59:29 PM
I came across some interesting thoughts on another thread:
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=554616.0

while I am researching a couple of ideas, I have some notes for reference:

"The Roman Empire grew through conquest. Subsequent conquests were financed by the spoils of the previous
conquests and the increased taxes from expansion. The conquests also financed the increasing size of bureaucracy
required to maintain an expanding empire."

True, up until Egypt was seized by Augustus, after that Rome preferred a defensible frontier, or
was forced into war by circumstances.

"Once the cost of maintaining the empire exceeded the returns from expansion, the empire stopped growing. "
The history is somewhat more complicated.
in AD14 Tiberius ordered Germanicus to the Northern extent of the Empire to put down a mutiny by the
troops overy pay. Once there Germanicus took the Army and the mutineers into Germany and plundered the
area as a reward to the Legions.
By 105AD Rome needed silver and gold to expand its monetary base, and to pay the Army. Trajan built a bridge
across the Danube, and plundered Dacia, also gaining access to the rich mines of the area.
In 272AD Aurelian went to war with the Palmyrene Empire to regain control of Egypt and the grain supplies
to Rome.
Hence while the statement is evidently true, the calculation of excess returns is at best, imprecise.
Also, after 167BC the costs ot the campaign were borne by their provinces.

"For example, administering the farthest regions of the empire became more costly
than the income from those regions, and some of them were abandoned. Conquering England brought less spoils
than the cost of that conquest."
Paying the Army on the frontier was always a loss leader, but it put Roman money into the local economy,
and financed the Roman lifestyle. Roman Monopolies always made the centre appear more affluent.

"At this point the empire began debasing the currency to compensate for the decrease in spoils and new
populations to tax."
I am uncomfortable with that statement. Arguably peace, technology and infrastructure, access to capital,
and the Roman economy increased wealth and GDP and thus the tax base.

"The empire also increased taxes and became more repressive."
For example, in 167BC, "Rome no longer needed to levy a tax against its citizens in Italy", so not
the whole story, but see below.

"The currency was so debased as to be practically worthless, but the empire still paid its military
and bureaucracy with it. Eventually the empire grew so weak it was unable to resist barbarian invasions and Rome fell".
Debased is not the same as worthless. The modus operandi following the accession of an Emperor was:
debasement to pay off the Army, thus delivering a stimulus to the economy and a spike in inflation, and
thereafter gentle deflation in the Emperor's lifetime. Over time, this probably caused problems with trade,
and I seem to recall that India wanted gold for spices and China wanted silver for silks.
The gold content of Roman coins was almost always of high purity [modern coins have some copper to
reduce wear], but the Roman silver coins went from 97 percent to 2 percent silver. My back-of-an-envelope
calculation shows a further complication: between 250AD and 270AD almost 90 percent of the silver
content of the coins in circulation may have disappeared. How much was hoarded, how much was stolen,
and how much was melted down for foreign trade is anybody's guess. In 271AD Aurelian slaughtered 7000
at the mint in Rome to end the fraud and the theft of silver.
From 250AD to 270AD trust in the currency weakened, barter became more frequent, and by 300AD even
the Military were paid in kind, resulting in the imposition of a reign of terror on the countryside.

"Peasants were so overburdened that some abandoned their fields and went to Rome for the dole, some sold children
into slavery, etc. The peasants were increasingly complacent to barbarian invasions and some welcomed barbarians
as liberators."
Again, not the whole story. See: http://www.unrv.com/economy/roman-taxes.php
"Large inflation rates and debased coinage values, by the reign of Diocletion, led to one of the more drastic
changes in the system. In the late 3rd century AD, he imposed a universal price freeze, capping maximum prices,
while at the same time he reinstated the land tax on Italian landowners. Special tolls on money traders and
companies were also imposed to help increase the tax collections.
Diocletion's program, in theory, should have helped ease the burden on various classes of taxpayers, but it
didn't work that way in practice. As an example, additional taxes were levied on land owners after the land tax had been paid because this was now a separate tax, instead of taking into account that taxes had already been collected. The burden of paying the expected amounts was shifted from communities and individuals within them, to the local senatorial class. The Senators who would then be subject to complete ruin in the case of economic shortfall in a particular region. Following Diocletion, Constantine compounded these burdens by making the senatorial class hereditary. By so doing, all debts and economic ramifications were passed from one senatorial generation to the next, ruining entire families and never allowing for a recovery that could benefit an entire community"

In summary, a much more confusing picture of the collapse. My belief remains that excessive debt was the
driver for the collapse, but the link between cause and effect remains elusive.
231  Economy / Economics / Re: Why don't we see US$ hyperinflation? on: April 02, 2014, 07:51:33 AM
Brief answer: The money "printed" by the Federal Reserve Bank (this is NOT the US government BTW)
can only, for all practical purposes, go to the 12 primary banks. The Federal Reserve is also restricted in
what it can buy, and it buys Mortgage Backed Securities, and it buys Treasury Bonds, from these banks.

There are a few problems - the Fed now owns over 35% of 10-year equivalent Treasuries - the good
stuff, and the toxic stuff is still on someone's books. Besides that the FIRE economy is still trying to
inflate debt by lending to anyone willing to pay high rates of interest so the $53 Trillion of credit market
debt (two thirds of which just keeps funding bonuses) is getting bigger.

A longer explanation is here:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-09-22/what-shadow-banking-can-tell-us-about-feds-exit-path-dead-end
232  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: March 22, 2014, 09:32:06 PM
Debasement.

Debasement of the currency is, for all intents and purposes, a form of taxation. It is in the first
place an abrogation of the trust placed in government to maintain the qualitative and quantitative
standards published for the tokens commonly used as money by the people. It is also a form of
taxation, removing wealth from the holders of the currency and placing wealth into the hands of the
debaser. The debaser is often, but not always, the government.

To examine the how and why debasement began in Imperial Rome, some attention must be paid to events
prior to the reign of Nero.

The Empire came into existence as a relatively stable form of governance after Kingdoms and
Republics had been tried and found wanting. The Empire had suffered the extremes of Tiberius, and
Caligula, and then enjoyed the stability of Claudius before Nero became Emperor. Nero was popular,
especially with the people, and at first continued the policies of Claudius, at least until fire
consumed one third of the Empire's capital city, Rome in 64AD. There are conflicting reports of
taxation under Nero. As modelled, taxation is set at 2.5% (lower than under Claudius) throughout
his reign, with the debasement modelled as a short-term loan of 600M denarii at low interest rates
to the banks. To test an alternative to debasement, the model is altered to increase taxes to seven
percent, and government spending is increased to reduce the contents of the Treasury to that of the
earlier model, with the loan to the banks significantly reduced.

Comparative figures for the economy four years later at the end of Nero's reign in 68AD are as
follows [debasement]: Firms Debts 1843[1953] Firms Assets 1606[1715] Bank Vault 193[211]
Bank Capital 22[23] Government spending 478[329] Taxation 210[87]
Inflation (from 0.7 in 64AD) 1.88[1.87].

A narrative for all this? Suppose that the Roman Empire used a currency that was impossible to
debase - such as bitcoin. Thus when Nero found himself in crisis, he was willing to empty the Roman
Treasury and to expend his personal fortune to see Rome quickly rebuilt - perhaps expecting others
to follow his exuberant example. The Senate and the Wealthy, who weren't getting a fine new palace
sited on 125 hectares of downtown Manhattan, and who may have ceded some land to the Emperor, well,
if there were rumblings of discontent before the fire, some embers would have been fanned into
outright hostility.

Getting new taxes in quickly is guaranteed to cause trouble, even though the additional revenue is
a fraction of the overall expenditure. The disruption from the fire has already cut the economy back,
and there will be no shortage of reasons for not paying taxes on time. Before taxes are raised,
examples are made by placing prominent citizens on trial, and confiscating their estates.
Debasement and modest increases in taxation as an alternative would at least retain the affection
of the mob. As it was there were at least two plots to assassinate Nero before the third succeeded.
Preserving the purity of the silver coinage and increasing taxation to say, seven percent, would
have lost Nero all support, and hastened his assassination.

Some things to take away from this: a) this is just a fiction, feel free to disagree. b) If you are
planning to assassinate someone, character assassination is a good beginning. c) In its impact on
the economy, this debasement was little different than an alternate via increased taxation except
for its acceptibility to the Wealthy and the people. d) It is surprising that the rebuilding of a
great city could cause so much ill feeling in the Elite strata of Roman Society. e) Revenues do not
necessarily increase just because the tax rate is raised. f) "Only the little people pay taxes"
might be relevant in ancient Rome too.

################################################################

 http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~ekalnay/pubs/2014-03-18-handy1-paper-draft-safa-motesharrei-rivas-kalnay.pdf

The above paper models Elites and Commoners as an enhanced Predator-Prey system. While Imperial Rome is
mentioned as civilisation that collapsed, it is difficult to see how this model offers any additional
insight into dynamics of the collapse. The model is referenced here to show alternative points of view,
and it is perhaps more closely aligned to the scenario where the Elite (or Wealthy) are able to avoid,
evade or withold taxes thus increasing the burden on the common people. The exclusion of the Wealthy
from taxation in Imperial Rome post 167AD might, however, be more easily modelled in this Predator-Prey
system.

233  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: March 01, 2014, 10:16:31 PM
Once the Romans had defeated and destroyed the Carthaginians, there were no
armies large enough or sufficiently well equipped and trained to challenge them.

There were invasions and raids, but Imperial Rome itself was rarely under threat
from barbarians.

An interesting angle on all this is the system of taxation, and its reported misuse
under Diocletian:

http://www.unrv.com/economy/roman-taxes.php

"In the early days of the Roman Republic, public taxes consisted of modest assessments
on owned wealth and property. The tax rate under normal circumstances was 1% and sometimes
would climb as high as 3% in situations such as war. These modest taxes were levied against
land, homes and other real estate, slaves, animals, personal items and monetary wealth."

"These Publicani were also money lenders, or the bankers of the ancient world,
and would lend cash to hard-pressed provincials at the exorbitant rates of 4% per month or more."

"Diocletion's program, in theory, should have helped ease the burden on various classes of taxpayers,
but it didn't work that way in practice. As an example, additional taxes were levied on land owners
after the land tax had been paid because this was now a separate tax, instead of taking into account
that taxes had already been collected. The burden of paying the expected amounts was shifted from
communities and individuals within them, to the local senatorial class. The Senators who would then
be subject to complete ruin in the case of economic shortfall in a particular region."

I doubt that improvements in the system of taxation would have helped, assuming of course that
the imposition of debt via the banking system inevitably del to the downfall.

For more on that see this:
 http://www.thedailybell.com/exclusive-interviews/29044/Anthony-Wile-Larry-Parks-Everything-You-Ever-Wanted-to-Know-About-Money-Metals/
“The concept of legal tender morphs from a concept called forced tender. In the middle
of the 13th century, when Marco Polo went to China, one of the things he noticed and
remarked about was that the Chinese emperors had become fabulously rich issuing paper money.
When Marco Polo returned to Europe and told the Europeans about paper money,
they were disbelieving. Why, they asked, would anyone accept a piece of paper in exchange
for his goods and services? The answer was that if one did not accept the emperor's
money he would kill you. With legal tender you don't get killed, but if you don't accept
it in payment of a debt by law you are not entitled to be paid.”

That also contains some interesting views on gold as a money, and on the current state of the
US and related economies.
234  Economy / Economics / Re: REGULATING DIGITAL CURRENCIES : BRINGING BITCOIN WITHIN THE REACH OF THE IMF on: February 22, 2014, 10:50:35 PM
Professor Steve Keen's views on Bancor as an International Reserve Currency are here (video unfortunately)

http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2013/11/30/the-international-financial-order/

I could not possibly comment on whether bitcoin has the characteristics necessary to
behave as a reserve currency, or store of wealth, nor to comment on the behaviour
of gold, or the US Dollar.
235  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Re: Professor asked me to send her the best Bitcoin resources, and give a lecture on: February 19, 2014, 08:25:52 PM
I forgot to add: check out Scotland (independence) and the Lakota Sioux (Pine Ridge?)
for examples of nations that might move towards using cryptocurrencies as their official reserves.
236  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: February 19, 2014, 08:12:50 PM
Thanks bitdreams, adrian-x, thaanos.

"There is the issue of expansion also, as long as roman empire expanded all was good,"

That was precisely the issue Augustus warned about, though it has as much to do with
financial gain as conquest. Clearly if the empire ended up poorer after the expansion,
that process could not continue indefinitely. And a larger empire could spend relatively
less defending its borders. Debasement began in earnest when the expansion slowed,
perhaps because debt is related to area (and therefore a a square law), and gains were
likely linear.
237  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Re: Professor asked me to send her the best Bitcoin resources, and give a lecture on: February 19, 2014, 07:56:10 PM
Hi elianite

Second year politics ... I would suggest you direct your search toward debasement of currencies,
as that seems to attract a lot of political attention. You probably know this already, but it is
worth repeating:

You could start by emptying your pockets and wallet - how much do you own?
Those bits of paper are merely promises that you do not own. Your coins have an
intrinsic value - US nickels are worth more as metal than the purchasing power of the coin.
Do you own your car? or merely pay off a loan? Similarly for your house?
And "your" money in the bank - is a promise that the bank will pay you after they have paid
people earlier in the queue.
But if you own bitcoin, they are undisputably yours. Those and your coins are all you own.

As for bitcoin transforming the world, it depends on the question you ask and when you ask it.
BTW - Have a look at the first couple of entries in the blockchain ;-)

Up-to-date views promoting bitcoin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzALVsGecQc (search youtube for crowdfunding bitcoin rainmaking)

http://www.iamsatoshi.com/coinscrum-alternative-stage-london/

The site http://www.thegenesisblock.com/ is usually worth a look.

For some historical information on currency debasement, have a look at my thread in the economics section.

Hopefully, you now know what questions to avoid :-)
238  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: February 16, 2014, 10:42:13 PM
Some more thoughts on the precursors to the crash beginning in 305AD, beginning with some
links on how others view the history. I've added links to more recent markets and related
comments. The comments below are my own - and I make this stuff up as I go along, obviously ;-)

http://thetraderandhisshadow.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/long-term-charts.pdf

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-08/long-term-charts-1-american-markets-independence
“Sometimes, perhaps all too often; investors, traders, economists, and mainstream media anchors
miss the forest and see only the trees (growing to the sky or crashing to the floor).
To provide some context on the markets, we present the first of three posts of long-term chart series
(and by long-term we mean more than a few decades of well-chosen trends) - stock, bond, gold, commodity,
and US Dollar prices for the last 240 years...”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-09/long-term-charts-2-western-markets-middle-ages
“We previously examined 240 years of US market history for a sense of 'trend' or sustainability but
some were not satisfied. In order to get a truly long-term perspective, we reach back 1000 years to
The Middle Ages and look at how stock prices, interest rates, commodity prices, and gold have changed
in a millennia (and most notably how the key historical events have shaped those price changes).”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-10/long-term-charts-3-markets-dawn-civilization
“We have looked at US markets since Independence and Western Markets since The Middle Ages;
but to really comprehend how far we have come, we need to press back to the dawn of civilization.
5000 years of interest-rates and commodity history and a trend is very clear as epochal events drive volatility.”

http://www.gold-eagle.com/article/ancient-prices
“Ancient price and wage data was collected to satisfy my own curiosity, and is presented for those readers
with a similar interest in the past. For the modern investor, this article contains two facts of relevance.”
“According to the Babylonian system of weights, 1 talent (30 kg) = 60 minas, one mina (504 grams) = 60 shekels,
and one shekel (8.4 grams) = 20 gerahs. True monetary systems did not exist until the development of
coinage c.700BC, however, and prices before 700BC refer to specific weights of metal.
Nb. One troy ounce = 31.1 grams. Prices in silver are as follows:”

In the 50 years prior to Aurelian, it is doubtful that interest rates offered price discovery.
Over those years barter became the normal method of trade, suggesting that the intermediation
of banks and money-changers was progressively reduced. It is hard to imagine how banking worked:
If Julius carried a satchel of silver plated copper coins into his local financial services
outlet, and asked for gold, I'd suppose he would expect a steep premium. Hmmm . . . maybe not
so difficult . . .  try today to buy a $50 gold coin or a £1 gold coin with anything less than
a large handful of fiat money and see what happens. But back to Aurelian.

I'd suggest that the dynamics of the situation were driven by trade with "barbarians". These
people would be disinclined to accept anything other than 99 percent gold in coinage, and
would give the debased roman silver coinange (2 percent silver) short shrift.

It seems likely that the roman economy would begin to disintegrate under this pressure with
maritime and international trade priced in gold, and local roman communities using either
barter or debased coinage. Whether banks and moneychangers would survive or thrive is an
interesting question. Hence I'm suggesting that from around 250AD onwards, markets in the
roman world were broken, and that interest rates quoted for that period should be viewed
with suspicion.

Note also that at the beginning of Imperial Rome, legionaries were paid in gold and with the
expectation of land when they retired. At some point, payment began to be made in silver.
Payment in debased silver coin would have caused problems for Legions on the move, but
for those guarding the frontier, not so much. See also Diocletian's edict doubling the
value of his "silver" coinage.

Perhaps it was not just the overhang of debt that brought down Imperial Rome, there
certainly was a collapse of confidence in the currency. The lesson here may be that once
financial services are removed, it may be very difficult to relace them.

It is interesting that China led the way on paper currency, crashed, and recovered. It may be that
the unity that China's geograpy brought also inhibited the competition that western Europe found
arising from their geography and the distribution of resources.
239  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: February 16, 2014, 12:16:44 AM
What little I know of China's history suggests a balance between the administration, the peasants,
the army, and the Temples (banks).

As a very crude analogy, China played "Old Maid" where Rome and the west played "Monopoly".
When the Temples got too powerful, too rich, issued too much debt, the others ganged up on them
and rebalanced the system. That's my understanding, I have no research to back that up.

I think the point of interest is related to the collapse from 305Ad on, and what might have been
done short of a complete reorganisation to get, for example, the currency restored. The Byzantine
Emperors seemed to have managed to last 1000 years after 305Ad, and their position seemed
little different from that of Rome, though their currency was based on gold, not silver.

The theory seems to point to "confidence," and the extension of trust to the currency to enable
investment - the expectation of reward in the future to take place. I'm reluctant to use the word
confidence because that implies certain things that may not be present in this context.
 
240  Economy / Economics / Re: Learning from Imperial Rome on: February 08, 2014, 10:22:22 PM
I will clarify a couple of things, that seem to have been misunderstood in the earlier posts.

I have come to view the Roman Tirmetallic currency as a primitive form of the internet, acting
to quickly transmit information, both political, price and financial across wide geographical
areas and beyond. The currency had a value separate from that of the metal in the coin,
a value that ultimately arose from the credibility of the State.

I try to avoid taking a position on interest charges on loans. While the interest rate itself is
valuable information if manipulation is absent, high interest rates on debt accelerate the
collapse of an economy in the models of Imperial Rome - I would add the caution that arguing
from the specific to the general is asking for trouble. 

I still struggle to get the next point across: as Debt in an economic system increases, the
possibility of achieving as "good" equilibrium becomes more and more remote. Furthermore,
Debt and interest might best be described as orthogonal, though some seem to see these
as interchangable. Graeber makes the point that during the Colonial expansion, the conquered
were expected to pay for the cost of conquest. Their struggle to remain free became a debt,
to be repaid in the conquerer's coin. Similarly, in Imperial Rome, on accession the new Emperor
was expected to pay a donative to the troops - and if it was not forthcoming the troops were
likely to press for a payment to be made - a Debt in all but name.

One difficulty in describing the performance of these models is that stability is difficult to measure.
Traditional measures such as margins have little meaning if the entire system is unstable, hence
any view on stability is somewhat subjective. Clearly, a system that has within it relatively large
quantities of debt will be subject to larger and more rapid changes in response to changes in
interest rates when compared to a system with little debt. You might want to consider the role
of Central Banks, and their supposed role in stabilising their economy when comparing ancient
and modern systems.

Some further points worth mentioning: population growth and productivity growth are incredibly
important in determining economic outcomes when looking at timespans of ten years and upwards,
to the extent that even tenths of a percent can be clearly seen by their effects. It is also difficult
to convey how fragile the Empire was at many times of crisis, and how costly the effort to keep
the show on the road could become.

I'll again mention that during the reign of Tiberius, laws prohibiting usury were progressively
enforced, pushing the banks into insolvency, and obliging Tiberius to bail them out with large
low or zero interest loans. Hence it seems that usury, in itself is not a solution to instability.

Setting up an alt-coin with a lifespan of less than thirty years would cause problems with long lived
loans such as mortgates. Shorter lifespans might in some circumstances be desirable - there are
some worrying predictions around suggesting that financial problems may precipitate societal
collapse. If we have a clearer view of the capabilities and limitations of bitcoin it can only help. 
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