Just wondering if our esteemed economics colleagues have heard of these theories or are willing to investigate.
I have looked into in briefly but many of the hard-core terminology was above my geek level.
It's not an economics issue, it's more a clever use of cryptography than anything else.
The basic idea with ricardian contracts is that anything that can be traded can be represented with a contract. For example:
Lets say we are using an exchange, and on this exchange I want to trade silver coins.
So I make a contract that says anyone who has it (the contract)can redeem it for silver coins. So to trade silver coins you trade the contract. When you actually want the coins give me the contract and I give you the coins.
Now lets say I want USD for the coins, then I set the ask price at X USD, you give me a contract that says the bearer will be paid X USD, I take it to the issuer and get my money.
These are only some of the basic things that can be represented in a contract, share, bonds, futures are all really just contracts, and you can make them as detailed as you like. And its the contracts that are exchanged on a market.
*Note you must understand basic public key cryptography for the next part to make sense
Now with ricardian contracts it's just an electronic form of a contract, a text document or textfile. And the contract is signed(using their cryptographic key pair) by the issuer(whose public key is available to verify), it's signed by the market exchange it's traded on and finally it is checksumed, so that it can't be changed without it being noticed.
And the really useful thing is that the checksum is the contracts id on the exchange, instead of using a ticker symbol like USD or GLD, instead it's something like 24ea1163ea6c9f5dae77de8c49ee7c03
And it's up to the buyer to properly understand these contracts and to know whether the issuer is trustworthy so they dont get burned or cheated.
My understanding of Triple entry accounting is again it's a cool use of cryptography.
The basic idea is that the receipt becomes the transaction. The buyer pays the seller, the seller makes a receipt showing payment,it is signed by the seller, the buyer signs the receipt showing a trade, then the exchange signs the receipt and the receipts id again is a checksum of the signed receipt(meaning that it cannot be changed by any party). This process is now proof that the transaction happened, it is verifiable and impossible to forge. Or something like that.
If he is making the argument that the receipt is the asset, then fine. But the asset doesn't actually go anywhere; there is no transaction needed for it. It has simply changed title from Alice to Bob but remains on the issuer's (bank's?) books as an asset. The transaction (receipt) still plays the same role as a traditional paper receipt; it is back-up for the transaction.
No, the argument is that the receipt IS the transaction, or at least it is the full record of it, and when talking about an exchange the transaction is the swapping of contracts(electronically). To actually get the goods you must redeem those contracts (I think this is the clearing process of stock trade).