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In the new film "Die Hard 4.0" there is an episode with the implication that if, oh dear, the bad guys will erase or alter all income/obligations information of the Wall Street, the civilization will fall back to the stone age. A kind of funny hint, but I may imagine some viewers may take seriously.

If money is information, is it only the amount of money that matters? It seems this money information is based on the counting system based on 1 (as opposed to the binary system based on 2, and the decimal system based on 10). Can we have a more structured "money" as information?

Are the compound interest rates applied broadly today? I thought they are a rule.

Michael Hudson has some articles on evils of compound interest rates. He also critisizes "equilibrium models" accordingly:

The task of economic regulation is reduced to setting an appropriate interest rate to keep all the economy's moving parts in equilibrium. This interest rate is supposed to be controlled by the money supply. An array of measures is selected from the overall credit supply (or what is the same thing, debt securities) to represent "money." This measure then is correlated with changes in goods and service prices, but not with prices for capital assets - bonds, stocks and real estate. Indeed, no adequate statistics presently exist to trace the value of land and other real estate.

The resulting economic models foster an illusion that economies can carry any given volume of debt without having to change their structure, e.g., their pattern of wealth ownership. Self-equilibrating shifts in incomes and prices are assumed to enable a debt overhead of any given size to be paid. This approach reduces the debt problem to one of the degree to which taxes must be raised to carry the national debt, and to which businesses and consumers must cut back their investment and consumption to service their own debts and to pay these taxes.

Excluded from the analysis is the finding that many debts are not repayable except by transferring ownership to creditors. This transfer changes the shape of the economy's legal and political environment, as creditors act as rentiers to subordinate labor and capital to the economy's financial dynamics.

Rent-seeking exploitation and the proverbial free lunch are all but ignored, yet real-world economics is all about obtaining a free lunch. [Such] considerations are deemed to transcend the narrow boundaries of economics. These boundaries have been narrowed precisely so as to limit the recognized "problems" only that limited part of economic life that can be mathematized, and indeed, mathematized without involving any changes in social structure ("the environment").

A particular kind of mathematical methodology thus has come to determine what is selected for study, recognizing only problems that have a single determinate mathematical solution reached by or what systems analysts call negative feedback. [Such] entropic behavior is based on the assumption of a falling marginal utility of income: The more one earns, the less one feels a need to earn more. This is fortunate, because most models also assume diminishing returns to capital, which is assumed to be invested at falling profit rates. Income and wealth thus are portrayed as tapering off, not as soaring and polarizing until a financial collapse point, ecological limit or other kind of crisis is reached.

A model acknowledging that positive feedback occurs when the rich get richer at the expense of the poorer, and when the "real" economy is dominated by an expanding overhead of financial capital, will depict an economic polarization that has an indeterminate number of possible resolutions. The economic problem becomes essentially political in the sense that conflicting trends will intersect, forcing something to give. This is how the real world operates. But to analyze it would drive economists out of their hypothetical entropic universe into an unstable one in which the future is up for grabs. Such a body of study is deemed unscientific (or at least, uneconomic) precisely because it cannot be mathematized without becoming political.

by das monde on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 12:40:38 PM EST
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