Novel Bearer Assets

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Over two years ago, Dr. Shiller at Yale wrote a mostly-wrong NYTimes piece about Bitcoin.

( It is 'mostly-wrong' because the central premise "it doesn't really solve any sensible economic problem" doesn't square with the empirical evidence. )

However, he does bring up some "quirky" ideas, for potential Event Derivative assets:


* ...since 1967 in Chile, an inflation-indexed unit of account called the unidad de fomento (U.F.), meaning unit of development, has been widely used. ...  In this way, it is natural and easy to set inflation-indexed prices, and Chile is much more effectively inflation-indexed than other countries are.

... Consider rents. Increases may seem unfair to tenants, yet they may be needed to offset inflation. In Chile, a landlord can easily set the monthly rent for the tenant in U.F.s and then never have to change it, reducing the potential for errors, delays and misunderstandings. The name "U.F." reframes people's thinking so that keeping real economic values stable is natural and easy.

* would just check off a box indicating whether your payment was in dollars or pesos or euros — or baskets. If you check "baskets," the computer would calculate the amount of local currency the recipient would need to buy that basket at that time, and it would transmit it, too.

* A third improvement would be to move beyond just one new unit of account to a whole system of them, so that we could have baskets for different purposes. There should be senior baskets representing items consumed by older people in one day in a given country, as well as subsistence baskets representing the consumption of the poor. There should also be a day-wage unit of account representing a day's work by an average unskilled wage earner.

And there could be a "trills" unit — a concept that Mark Kamstra of York University and I have been advocating — that represents one trillionth of a country's most recently estimated annual G.D.P. There should also be a unit that grows or retreats with per-capita daily consumption. This could be used for pension and Social Security payments as a form of intergenerational risk-sharing: The idea is that payments to older people would rise and fall with overall consumption. With many kinds of baskets, it will be easier to set prices and make contracts that are sensible for the long term.

The great irony is that all of these are possible with Hivemind, which is itself only possible because of Bitcoin. "it doesn't really solve any sensible economic problem", indeed!
Nullius In Verba