Thursday, July 27, 2017

De-bugging Gold

I've discussed the concept of money here before, but one aspect of money I've given some thought to lately is the concept of "fiat currency".

Fiat currency is any currency that doesn't have a fixed metric of independent valuation. The refined metal gold has long been regarded as a desirable basis for such a metric. For so long, in fact, that the metal itself has become synonymous with the concept of currency/money. This despite the well documented short-comings historically associated with using the metal in that capacity.

I'm going to suggest that there exists a more universal, less tamperable metric available.

A single molecule of hydrogen can be theoretically converted into a known quantity of energy. That energy release can be quantified in units of electrical energy. A given nations ability to generate electrical energy is also quantifiable. By pegging a given currency at some arbitrary unit of electrical energy, and quantifying the issuing country's total electrical generation capacity in the same unit of measure, it becomes a fairly straight-forward calculation to valuate any currency in relation to a fixed metric as well as relative to any other currency.

The notion of fiat currency disappears into the mists of history, and economics takes a serious step into the realms of science.

Where this becomes acutely urgent is the day Elon Musk's Mars colony begins to issue its own currency (which will be necessary in order for the colonists to develop and utilize the local economy that assuredly will develop right along with the colony itself). Any Earth currency could be used, of course, if the colonists wished to have their lives and fortunes held hostage to someone else's political quirks and whims.

Can we all agree on the unlikeliness of this being accepted for very long based on humanity's history of colonization?

Changing to such a valuation system will be disruptive in ways large and small (any wagers being offered on how few countries currency will prove not to have been fraudulently manipulated by its own government?), but for the human species to be able to successfully migrate off of the planet and into the solar system, we must have a currency valuation metric in place that applies equally reliably (not to mention transparently) throughout the solar system. Having such an inflationary resistant system in place would greatly increase the viability of concepts like Universal Basic Income and multi-century financial planning for only two other examples.

We're going to have to do this (or something indistinguishably like it) at some point, so why not do it via talk-talk now, rather than by some future strongman regime the way Germany's economic (and basically every other) system got imposed upon it post-WW II?

No comments: