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

Gapminder Foundation – the beauty of statistics

The Gapminder Foundation was founded back in 2005 by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling in Stockholm as a “non-profit venture – a modern ‘museum’ on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”

Screenshot from http://www.gapminder.org

Its main project is Gapminder World – Wealth and Health of Nations that is based on an extensive UN database including over 430 indicators that cover unemployment, economic growth, natural disasters and many more. The example below illustrates Gapminder World with life expectancy and income (per capita) over the period 1950 to 2006 (latest version includes projection up to 2050).

The Dollar Street is another great feature. All people are assumed to live on this street where the poorest live to the left and the richest to the right (similar to a Hotteling linear version model). Selecting different parts of the street gives photo-panoramas from typical households at different income levels.

Don’t forget to check out Gapminder Labs for more.

Changing perspectives

A very enjoyable three-minute video with Derek Sivers about the implicit subconscious assumptions we make every day and changing perspectives.

He provides examples from Japan where the streets have no names, Chinese doctors that get paid only when you are healthy and counting music the west African way (i.e., 2,3,4,1).

On Japan topography –

[in Japan] they say, Well, streets don’t have names. Blocks have names. Just look at Google Maps here. There’s Block 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. All of these blocks have names, and the streets are just the unnamed spaces in between the blocks.

Chinese doctors –

…sometimes we need to go to the opposite side of the world to realize assumptions we didn’t even know we had, and realize that the opposite of them may also be true. So, for example, there are doctors in China who believe that it’s their job to keep you healthy. So, any month you are healthy you pay them, and when you’re sick you don’t have to pay them because they failed at their job. They get rich when you’re healthy, not sick.

West African music –

In most music, we think of the ‘one’ as the downbeat, the beginning of the musical phrase: one, two, three, four. But in West African music, the ‘one’ is thought of as the end of the phrase, like the period at the end of a sentence. So, you can hear it not just in the phrasing, but the way they count off their music: two, three, four, one.