On the origin of money (and crypto)

A recent article on Science News magazine offers a new, revisionist approach to the origin of money, that is somewhat contrary to what we believe in economics:

That well-worn story gets money all wrong, anthropologists and archaeologists say. “Adam Smith based his ‘creation myth’ of financial systems on ignorance of what actually happened in the past,” says archaeologist Robert Rosenswig of the University at Albany in New York.

A stone money bank, Yap, Micronesia, Pacific
Source: http://en.theoutlook.com.ua/article/6857/lost-island-of-yap-the-land-of-big-money.html

Early governments created money to pay off public works debts and to collect taxes […] Bartering had nothing to do with it.

The article is titled “Conflict reigns over the history and origins of money” and is available online.


Presenting at the ICABR bioeconomy event at The World Bank

​I will be attending “Disruptive Innovations, Value Chains, and Rural Development” organized by ICABR (International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research) at The World Bank in June, where I am presenting my paper “Circular regulations (CR) for bioeconomy development”

The talk highlights the importance for a new understanding of regulatory frameworks that directly relate to the emerging bioeconomy and the underlying circular understanding of economic activity.

Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2017/10/11/disruptive-innovations-value-chains-and-rural-development#3

Online course on coop governance by UofS

The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan (UofS) offers an online course on issues of coop governance, titled “Governance in Co-operatives”. The course is free for everyone and will run for six weeks (October 6 – November 24).

Source: http://usaskstudies.coop/news-and-events/online-co-op-governance-course.php

It is based on six modules:

  1. What Is Governance?
  2. Governance in Business
  3. Governance in Co-ops and Nonprofits
  4. Working Together
  5. A View of the Future
  6. Legitimacy


Where each module has its own case study that is prepared specifically for this course.

Course registration opens October 2, 2017.

The core Econ project

The core Econ project prepared an introductory economics curriculum that is freely available online. The e-book is simply called The Economy and provides lecture slides and tests, covering several economic issues like inequality, globalization, climate change, etc. Some of the material of the course has been used at colleges around the world, including the University College London and Sciences Po, in Paris.

The course is available here.

See also the recent article on The New Yorker about the course.

Figure 3.12 “How technological change affects the production function”; taken from section 3.6 “Hours of work and economic growth” of the e-book. Source: http://www.core-econ.org/the-economy/book/text/03.html#36-hours-of-work-and-economic-growth

Presentation at the Igls Forum

The latest paper “Mapping and economic valuation of the ecosystem services provided by a wetland site in Danube” was presented at the 11th International European Forum (Igls-Forum) (161st EAAE Seminar) on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks.

The paper is about mapping and valuating ecosystem services in wetlands. Our focus was the protected wetland area in the Divici-Pojejena region in Romania. We use a mixed methods approach: the qualitative part relied on focus groups and interviews to identify key stakeholders and services provided by the wetland site. Then, we apply the benefit transfer (BT) method for the monetary valuation of the ecological services of the site. After exploring different approaches we finally chose a meta-regression model as a basis for our evaluation.

Poster at Igls Forum 2017

Our analysis revealed that bird watching opportunities, water quality services, flood prevention services and habitat services provided by the wetland are among the highest valued services, while the amenity services are the least valued among all wetland services.

The services of flood prevention and water quality follow, signifying the importance of the area in reducing damage due to flooding and severe storms, as well as the reduced costs of water purification resulting from retention and transformation of nutrients. The wetland also serves as a significant habitat, mainly for avian species (this was particularly valued by stakeholders with environmental protection interests). Services related to water quantity and storm also have a significant contribution due to the recharging of ground water and the reduction of erosion resulting from stabilization of sediment. Amenity appears to have the least contribution of the ecological services, probably due to the restrictions that are applied to the area (e.g., prohibiting fishing).

The paper will be soon be published at the Conference Proceedings.

Making sense of AI

Tech anthropologist Genevieve Bell discusses how to “make sense” of AI – essentially how an ethnographic interview with an AI (entity?) would look like. Her presentation was a keynote address on O’Reilly AI conference in New York City September 26-27, 2016.

Bell addresses basic ethnographic questions of origin and upbringing, current role and prospects, only this time she is facing an AI, trying to make sense of it. So, for an AI or a machine-learning entity, the issues are: where it comes from, what role it plays in our today’s world, and where it is going. A whole world of possibilities opens, including issues on art, intent and dreams.

Also check out Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft) talking on intelligent agents, augmented reality and the future of productivity.

CEO pay and performance

A new study by MSCI relates the highest-paid CEOs with the lowest shareholder value.

Image taken from The Independent


MSCI researchers Ric Marshall and Linda-Eling Lee compared the salaries of 800 US-based CEOs in large and medium-sized companies with the returns to their shareholders during their board tenure. They find that a high CEO pay did not correlate with higher returns.

In fact the “highest paid [CEOs] had the worst performance by a significant margin“. On the other hand the lowest-paid CEOs were the ones who “more consistently displayed higher long-term investment returns”.

As Peter Yeung writes on his article for The Independent,

The study, carried out by corporate research firm MSCI, found that for every $100 (£76) invested in companies with the highest-paid CEOs would have grown to $265 (£202) over 10 years.

But the same amount invested in the companies with the lowest-paid CEOs would have grown to $367 (£279) over a decade.

The MSCI study is available online (no subscription required).

Pity The Nation

American poet, painter, liberal activist, and co-founder of the legendary City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote this poem in 2007.


Pity The Nation

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.