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Laurence Inman’s Blog

A CAPITAL IDEA

18-09-2008

Money Roll

Wonder how the world got into it’s current global money mess. Laurence Inman explains in words of not more than three syllables. Of course, he’s alright Jack.

This week I am going to explain what I think has happened in history with money, everywhere, and how it affects us all now.

At first, people just eat stuff they find.

Then, there’s this bloke who makes things he needs (like tools) or grows things he eats (like potatoes) or digs stuff up he can make things with or burn (like metal or coal.) So he’s got everything required to make a nice bag of chips.

Since there’s only him and his family, he has far more stuff than he needs, so he swaps the surplus with his mates who’ve got a surplus of other stuff.

There’s this other bloke who’s a bit more cunning than the others and he’s been standing watching all this for a while.

'Forget this swapping nonsense,' he says. 'It's primitive. Give all your surplus stuff to me and in return I'll give you some vouchers which you can swap for anything anywhere. I'll do the same with your mates and I'll be good for all the vouchers. Oh, and I'll also decide how many vouchers you get for what.'

This sounds brilliant to the blokes who make or grow or dig up stuff, so they agree to do it.

After a bit, the smart bloke, following discussions he’s had with his mates in other places, starts paying fewer vouchers for everything.

'This is because they're paying less everywhere else. I'd be mad to pay more to you when I can get it for half the price in the next town. I tell you what, though. I'll lend you the extra you need. You can pay me back, plus a bit extra for my trouble. And I'll lend you more if you like, so you can buy machinery, or more land, more workers, more materials. We'll both gain in the end.'

But the interest goes up and the prices keep falling and the loan insists on growing.

'It's the market,' says smart-arse, 'and there's nothing we can do about it.

The best thing you can do now is sell the whole farm (or factory, or mine) to a lot of other people who’ll each buy a share. Then they can suffer the vagaries of the market, you’ll have a lot of extra money and you can make more stuff. We’ll all gain in the end.’

So now you’ve got two lots of blokes. There’s the blokes who make, grow and mine everything. Then there are the blokes who only have money, more than they need, which they lend to other blokes, getting more money, which they don’t need even more.

The money-blokes find they just can’t manage without more and more money which they don’t need, so they lend more and more of it to more and more other blokes, making all sorts of promises they can’t possibly keep to people they know can’t possibly pay it back.

But it doesn’t matter, because by the time the whole thing collapses they’ll be long gone with whatever they can grab and the mess will have to be cleared up by a third lot of blokes (lawyers) who charge everyone (via the government) a fortune to do it.

This will happen in exactly the same way every so often because nothing can stop it. It is the root cause of everything that’s wrong in and with the world.

I can’t feel bad about it though, for two reasons.

One; I’ve paid off my mortgage.

Two; the people tearfully leaving the big shiny buildings in New York and London the other day are more or less the same people who were seen wearing silly waistcoats and guzzling champagne while the rest of us were living on bread and dripping twenty years ago.

Let me be the first to wish you a merry Xmas. And if you’re starving by then, don’t come round trying to break down my front door, because I’ll have nothing.

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