Publishing my initial model for hypercapitalism

post by skilesare · 2015-04-20T13:38:12.859Z · score: 3 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 79 comments

I posted a stupid question a couple of weeks ago and got some good feedback.

@ChristianKl suggested that I start building a model of hypercapitalism for people to play with.  I have the first one ready!  It isn't quite to the point where people can start submitting bots to play in the economy, but I think it shows that the idea is worth more thought.

Analysis:

http://www.hypercapital.info/news/2015/4/19/a-published-model-of-hypercapitalism

Runnable Code - fork it and mess around with it:

http://runnable.com/VTBkszswv6lIdEFR/hypercapitalism-sample-economy-for-node-js-and-hello-world

I'd love some more feedback and opinions.

A couple of other things for context:

hypercapital.info - all about hypercapitalism

Overcoming bias about our money

Information Theory and the Economy

 

79 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-21T09:12:23.418Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Care to find a different name for it?

"Capitalism" is a term often incisive and having mind-killer effects for everybody who dislikes it, plus everybody who dislikes it will instantly misunderstand your idea just based on the title, as its critics to understand capitalism as something based on extracting rents from the the monopolization of the usage of a resource (i.e. own more land you can personally till, that kind of private property) instead of the exchange and transaction based ideas you have here.

Hayes used the word catallaxy for "the order brought about by the mutual adjustment of many individual economies in a market" and thus I would recommend hypercatallaxy as a term, probably much clearer and leading to fewer problems than the term hypercapitalism.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T13:24:33.309Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am not tied to the name. The public facing name I've proposed for this kind of money is 'Art', but I'm hoping to engage some actual PR and Marketing people to help come up with some thing better.

I love it. Can I steal it? :)

It is still a little obtuse for the man on the street, so I'm looking for even better ways to make it understandable.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-04-20T19:57:19.085Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Especially upvoted for a) actually taking and acting on advice and b) for building an executable and thus testable model.

You could (also) post this in the group rationality thread.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T03:23:01.427Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm new here, tell me more about this thread?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-04-21T06:55:10.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The latest diary thread is this: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lxk/group_rationality_diary_march_22_to_april_4/

This is also described in the Wiki (but the linking is outdated): http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationality_Diary

You can find it in the right side bar (at least most of the time).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T17:01:52.826Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand how your hypercapitalism works (and I have looked at the links). I am also not sure of the point -- are you trying to force each buy/sale transaction to become an investment? to give consumers a long-term interest in the well-being of their counterparty?

It doesn't help that you don't use the standard economic terminology. For example, I think what you mean by "rent" is usually called "productivity" while the word "rent" has a different meaning in economics.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T17:09:39.481Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oh...and I think economic rent is a fairly standard term. This is the amount that people pay for a thing above its cost because of a disadvantage they are under. Some economic rent is good, some is bad. You can argue that it is 'value' though if someone is willing to pay it. If they weren't getting that value out of it they wouldn't pay it.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T17:29:21.811Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is the amount that people pay for a thing above its cost because of a disadvantage they are under.

Not quite. The difference between the price the buyer pays and the cost of the good to the seller is the seller's profit which is not the same thing as rent. To call something "rent" implies that the seller controls some limited resource that cannot be easily reproduced or acquired by his competition.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T17:47:40.384Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is semantics that depend on your assumptions:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicrent.asp

Profits are economic rent are the same in a lot of instances. If all markets were perfect their would be neither profit nor economic rent. Can you think of a situation where profit is not economic rent?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-04-20T18:33:17.715Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Profit is not the same thing as economic rent. You can think of economic rent as the portion of revenues deriving purely from the scarcity of some resource you hold, e.g. land in Manhattan (but not the stuff involved in administering or maintaining it), or the rights to a patent, or skills or credentials that are underrepresented in a market thanks to cultural factors. That has almost nothing to do with profit; although you can profit from economic rents, you can profit from other things too, and almost all transactions involve factors other than rents. A perfect market would eliminate rents, but it would not eliminate profits -- though it would drive down profits to the minimum necessary to motivate transactions.

There are rents involved in the production of most material goods, because natural resources are almost always scarce in this sense. However, as a counterexample we could imagine e.g. a frontier situation where land was essentially free and the prices of agricultural goods directly reflected the costs and effort involved in cultivating them.

comment by Letharis · 2015-04-22T01:34:37.495Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When you talk about perfectly competitive markets having no profit, you're probably thinking of the term "economic profit". The sort of profit everyone usually thinks of is revenue minus cost, which is called accounting profit by economists so as to distinguish it from economic profit. Also economists are really bad at naming things. Economic profit is revenue-costs-opportunity costs.

In perfect competition, firms do make accounting profit, but they don't make economic profit.

Thanks for posting your model here and getting involved in the discussion. It's always good to be able to discuss these things publicly because I'm sure many people are learning a lot from it.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T02:29:07.848Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

..and I'm all for profit. I think it is a great thing....I just also think there is an advantage to it being a time bound great thing. You made a profit! Awesome! Good for you! Now use it for the greater good or give it back(slowly...but still...)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T17:58:29.138Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If all markets were perfect their would be neither profit nor economic rent.

That is not correct. If there are no profits, there are no incentives for sellers to stay in business.

Can you think of a situation where profit is not economic rent?

Sure. I walk into a grocery store and buy an apple. I paid more than the cost of the apple to the store -- where is my "disadvantage" that the seller exploited to get rent? To forestall the location rent argument, let me point out that there is another grocery store selling the same apples down the block.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T18:03:17.759Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The economic rent is in the fact that there wasn't an apple tree on your the walk to the store.

Economic rent isn't always bad. Otherwise we'd have an apple tree infestation problem.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T18:09:22.493Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The economic rent is in the fact that there wasn't an apple tree on your the walk to the store.

And we come full circle to me pointing out again that this is NOT the meaning in which mainstream economics uses the word "rent".

You do want to popularize your theory, right? That means explaining things using terminology that your target audience knows and understands. Unless you have a very good reason, changing the meaning of pretty standard terms leads to much confusion.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T18:16:29.795Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm...I'll have to look into this more. There certainly is a difference between 'rent' and 'economic rent'. I'm really don't think I'm misusing economic rent.

You can call it profit if you want. In the model, some nodes have a better ability to extract profit than others. Or we can call it 'make moneyness'.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T18:26:35.807Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Moneyness" is a term in finance :-)

Do you mean "better extract profit" or do you mean "generate value with higher productivity"?

And my initial question still stands: what is your aim and what problems do you want to solve?

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T19:31:18.584Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

See my answer below:

http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/m38/publishing_my_initial_model_for_hypercapitalism/ca33

I mean that some of us are better at generating some kinds value than others. (Division of Labor)

A wine maker who has been in the business for 25 years can make a better bottle of wine than I can. If he wanted to make the same bottle of wine that I can, he could do it more easily.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T19:44:39.194Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A competent wine maker is already rewarded for being able to produce a good bottle of wine under normal capitalism -- he can sell this bottle for, say, $50 and you can't do this with your homebrew.

As to you goals, I don't see why low velocity of money is a problem (yes, I'm familiar with Keynes). It's a symptom of the sluggishness of the underlying economic activity, not its cause. Having bank deposits or bonds pay negative interest is also a solved problem (see contemporary Europe), and if you want all store-of-value to be subject to negative interest rates you have to outlaw cash and equivalents to start with.

I don't know what is "good" value. I also don't know what is "dignity of labour".

And I don't think you're serious about robots :-P

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T02:59:23.960Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The wine buyer is not rewarded for buying from a wine maker that will make a better wine bottle tomorrow though. Think for a bit on if she was.

I'm not sure if the velocity of money is a result or a cause of economic activity, but my reason tells me that if it is flowing faster, 'I' have a better chance at having some flow to me. P(making 100k at mv 6) < P(making 100k at mv 12)

Can you name a form of non artificial capital that is a cash equivalent? Maybe gold? Any non elements that aren't subject to entropy? Ultimately, yes, I think all artificial forms of 'store of value' should have an artificial form of entropy added to them because that is the way the world works.

I bet if you don't know what good value is that you at least know bad value when you see it.

I talk more about the full output of labour in this paper: https://www.dropbox.com/s/k97dzssxc58ux1s/hypercapitalismwpv1.1.pdf?dl=0

...as for the robots. I'm a little serious. If agi emerges into a world where economic nodes are dependent upon each other and it has more to gain from cooperation than dominating, it might buy us a few years to find a balance.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-21T03:37:56.343Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Think for a bit on if she was.

If she were rewarded for buying from someone who'd get better tomorrow, she will also get punished for buying from someone who'd get worse. In other words, you are asking the buyer to assume some risk associated with the future prospects of the seller. I don't see why this is a good thing, given that the ability of the buyers to influence these prospects is very limited.

As a buyer I don't want to have a little bit of risky investment forced into every purchase I make.

my reason tells me that if it is flowing faster, 'I' have a better chance at having some flow to me.

Err.. would you mind unrolling this reasoning? This sounds to me like a claim that if the lottery revenues are increasing you stand a better chance of getting a winning ticket.

a form of non artificial capital that is a cash equivalent?

What's "non-artificial capital"? Money itself is "artificial" to start with, the current fiat currencies for certain.

"Cash" is, generally speaking, some store-of-value with the following characteristics: constant nominal value, bearer form, fully liquid.

You can think of inflation as "entropy" for cash.

I bet if you don't know what good value is that you at least know bad value when you see it.

Not in your sense, I don't. I think a $1 t-shirt from a sweatshop in Vietnam is good value, for example.

If agi emerges into a world where economic nodes are dependent upon each other and it has more to gain from cooperation than dominating

Why? In the locally standard expectations a UFAI will have zero interest in human economics and the particulars of their arrangement. All it wants is atoms and energy.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T04:27:19.546Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If she were rewarded for buying from someone who'd get better tomorrow, she will also get punished for buying from someone who'd get worse. In other words, you are asking the buyer to assume some risk associated with the future prospects of the seller. I don't see why this is a good thing, given that the ability of the buyers to influence these prospects is very limited.

Some risk, yes. But in the models I've run, the risk is fairly small and is mitigated by the fact that shitty wine maker spends some of your cash with awesome barrel maker and awesome seed provider. The recursiveness of the system time shifts out some of your risk.

If shitty wine maker goes out of business, because we have a public ledger we can 'fold the blockchain' and connect where the money went to where the money came from and fill in a void that, in the current economy, causes all kinds of volatility.

As a buyer I don't want to have a little bit of risky investment forced into every purchase I make.

I think you do, you just don't know it yet :) Your choice would be between more than what you get now or way more than you get now. If I told you that your risk was between getting back 3% or 300% of what you spent over the next 50 years, even in the worst case you've gained 3%. You could of course choose to keep using your old money.

Err.. would you mind unrolling this reasoning? This sounds to me like a claim that if the lottery revenues are increasing you stand a better chance of getting a winning ticket.

If you buy a lottery ticket that is good for all future drawings, and they double the number of drawings, you do have a better chance of winning. Your economic potential isn't a lottery ticket that expires. If people have more to gain by holding their cash than spending/investing it, the chance that they will invest/spend with you goes down. If they there is a cost for holding cash they will seek ways to at least break even. Maybe you break even today, but with your experience, you turn a profit tomorrow.

What's "non-artificial capital"? Money itself is "artificial" to start with, the current fiat currencies for certain.

A bulldozer is natural capital(non-artificial). A tree is natural. You are natural. A computer is natural. All those things are subject to entropy and have a natural carrying cost. Items whose value derive from law, psychology, math, or ideas are artificial. Money is artificial, but if you don't make the map the territory something is going to go wonky and you're going to have a 'correction'.

"Cash" is, generally speaking, some store-of-value with the following characteristics: constant nominal value, bearer form, fully liquid.

And I'd contend that the store of value part is convenient, but ultimately misguided. It was a shortcut we needed to use to get from horse drawn carriages to databases. But we don't need to completely preserve the 'store of value' anymore. We can let it decay just like the world around it.

You can think of inflation as "entropy" for cash.

Yes, but I'll contend that controlled inflation(demurrage) is better than the random inflation we deal with now.

Not in your sense, I don't. I think a $1 t-shirt from a sweatshop in Vietnam is good value, for example.

As good a value as a $1 shirt made by a robot down the block? No fossil fuels burned in shipping, no slave labor. Surely there are better and worse ways of doing things.

Why? In the locally standard expectations a UFAI will have zero interest in human economics and the particulars of their arrangement. All it wants is atoms and energy.

I don't contend it will solve the problem, just that it might buy us some time if it can get some decent utility out of humans providing the atoms and energy while it ramps up to do it itself. Maybe it is just second. It is just a theory.

Would an intelligence not subject to the availability bias ever choose to not use a form of exchange where it benefited from all uses of the exchanged material in the future vs. exchanging resources for only the perceived present value? I think it is a question worth asking.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-21T19:01:46.243Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As an aside: the local prefix for quoting is ">" at the start of the line, not the pipe character.

I think you do, you just don't know it yet :) Your choice would be between more than what you get now or way more than you get now.

I think you're mistaken about my preferences.

You point out yourself that money is (in this context) is just a measure, an medium of exchange. It is NOT the same thing as the underlying value. Now, to "get more" I would want to get more value and you're promising me just more money. The point is that an economy produces some amount of value and that's all you have to redistribute. You can make money spin faster, but that will not increase the value produced -- all you'll do is increase inflation.

Essentially, if I buy a loaf of bread from a baker and the baker knows he'll have to pay me "dividends" in the future, the baker will raise the price of bread to compensate for these future dividends. Your hopes remind me of "free energy" mechanisms in physics -- if only we could set up sufficiently clever loops we can get more energy that we put in! Um...

My current understanding of your idea is that you basically want a tax on wealth (or, specifically, on money wealth) with a very complicated scheme to distribute its proceeds directly to the population bypassing the government. Is that a reasonable approach?

I would also like to point out that I think your fears of wealth accumulation are overblown. Look at empirical data. Is there, in reality, old old money dominating everything? Does the Medici family rule Europe? What happened to the Vanderbilts? The oldest rich family I can recall offhand is the Rothschilds and while they are not poor by any means, how do they do compared to Gates or Brin or Musk?

All those things are subject to entropy and have a natural carrying cost.

What about the traditionally most valuable kind of capital -- land, also known as real estate? What about technology? or non-agricultural commodities like oil, coal, copper, etc?

controlled inflation(demurrage) is better than the random inflation we deal with now.

The current inflation is controlled to best of central banks' abilities. You are not controlling it any better, you're just setting a floor as to how low can it go.

As good a value as a $1 shirt made by a robot down the block?

I'll take the standard capitalist approach -- if the robot down the block can sell me the same shirt cheaper, I'll buy it from the robot. If it can't, I'll buy it from the Vietnamese. I am not willing to pay extra for feel-good fluff.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T02:11:30.513Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You point out yourself that money is (in this context) is just a measure, an medium of exchange. It is NOT the same thing as the underlying value. Now, to "get more" I would want to get more value and you're promising me just more money. The point is that an economy produces some amount of value and that's all you have to redistribute. You can make money spin faster, but that will not increase the value produced -- all you'll do is increase inflation.

Do you think that the current economy is ginning at an optimal output? How much slack would you guess there is? How much GDP is currently left 'on the shelf'? Maybe you think we are very close to optimal. If that is the case then I'm tilting at windmills. If it is suboptimal, the the next questions is 'why?' Is it a lack of tech. A lack of resources? A lack of time? I'm not sure but I think it is very sub optimal.

If increasing the flow of money would not bridge the missing value, what would? I think that a lot of actors in our economy get stuck 'waiting for the check' to get started on production, finish production,procure the capital necessary to build, etc.

Is there some data/study you can point to that says that faster velocity doesn't increase production? Maybe I should run the model with mv > 1 transaction a month and see what happens.

Essentially, if I buy a loaf of bread from a baker and the baker knows he'll have to pay me "dividends" in the future, the baker will raise the price of bread to compensate for these future dividends. Your hopes remind me of "free energy" mechanisms in physics -- if only we could set up sufficiently clever loops we can get more energy that we put in! Um...

The difference is that there isn't a law of conservation of value. We regularly see massive exponential movements in the ability of human beings to produce amazing things. Would you argue that we should go back to barter because money is just a clever way of abstracting away coincidence of wants? Energy is physics. Money is an artificial construct.

Also don't ignore the fact that a consumer may be willing to pay the increased price charged because the consumer will be getting that value back in the future. I understand that this may seem like a clever loop, except that people die. So the loop breaks down and you have to have a system for legacy. The system has a consequence of corporate death as well so you don't end up with supercorps sucking in all the economic decay. Legacy and transition are in the details of the book, but basically, this isn't a system that jives with immortality...it is a system to get us there.

My current understanding of your idea is that you basically want a tax on wealth (or, specifically, on money wealth) with a very complicated scheme to distribute its proceeds directly to the population bypassing the government. Is that a reasonable approach?

It isn't really much more complicated than the fractional reserve system we have now. I have no delusions about the ease of bootstrapping such a system, but it really can be a fairly straight forward and simple system.

I would also like to point out that I think your fears of wealth accumulation are overblown. Look at empirical data. Is there, in reality, old old money dominating everything? Does the Medici family rule Europe? What happened to the Vanderbilts? The oldest rich family I can recall offhand is the Rothschilds and while they are not poor by any means, how do they do compared to Gates or Brin or Musk?

I think the empirical data is there for the r > g problem(http://www.amazon.com/Capital-Twenty-First-Century-Thomas-Piketty/dp/067443000X/r). I think most of use here probably fall on the side that assumes technology will keep g > r, but with no promises, I think doing something is better than nothing.

What about the traditionally most valuable kind of capital -- land, also known as real estate? What about technology? or non-agricultural commodities like oil, coal, copper, etc?

Certainly somethings have more or less carrying costs. The closer you get to stable elements, the more you can decrease these (Gold, Silver). Carbon is an element but tends to be a slippery beast that takes all kind of crazy forms that break down or change in some way. Land does have a carrying cost of some form of maintenance and most has an artificial carrying cost in the form of property taxes. Gesell had some pretty crazy ideas about land that I don't exactly buy into. I don't have many super strong ideas about it because I think(hope) we are going to be moving past the point where land is that big of a deal for most of us.

The current inflation is controlled to best of central banks' abilities. You are not controlling it any better, you're just setting a floor as to how low can it go.

Actually the theory is that we can hold inflation at 0 by printing decaying dollars when we need them and decaying them faster when there is too much. Tech is always going to bring about some deflation, but the general goal is for there always to be enough money to buy all the things that are being produced.

I'll take the standard capitalist approach -- if the robot down the block can sell me the same shirt cheaper, I'll buy it from the robot. If it can't, I'll buy it from the Vietnamese. I am not willing to pay extra for feel-good fluff.

I'm a humanist...I guess you are not...agree to disagree? We can't do that on a rationality discussion board can we? If you aren't willing to pay for the feel good fluff, do you at least want it to happen? By what means if so. If not, are you cool with the status quo going forward as long as prices always get smaller?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-22T04:17:10.539Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that the current economy is ginning at an optimal output?

I don't know what "optimal output" is. Can the economy produce more? Of course it can. What's stopping it? Ah, an interesting and complicated question. There are a lot of constraints, both local and global -- I would say the biggest is the level of technology -- and they are binding in different places. As I mentioned earlier, I do not think that the availability of capital is a major constraint at the moment. In fact, we have a glut of cheap money.

I think that a lot of actors in our economy get stuck 'waiting for the check' to get started on production

That's possible, but why do you think these actors would generate value? It's entirely possible for them to just waste resources. The fact that they have not been able to secure financing indicates that they do not have a convincing plan of creating value.

s there some data/study you can point to that says that faster velocity doesn't increase production?

Just get yourself a plot of GDP and a plot of money velocity over time. See how correlated they are and whether you think there is a causal connection.

In any case, velocity is a calculated number -- it's just GDP divided by money supply (and you can use different money supplies -- the monetary base, M2, M3, etc. to get a velocity for each of them).

a consumer may be willing to pay the increased price charged because the consumer will be getting that value back in the future

That's the financial equivalent of lending money to the seller. Why would a consumer be interested in becoming a creditor for all purchases?

I think the empirical data is there for the r > g problem

I think that's not quite true. Yes, Piketty has written a book. Not everyone agrees with its conclusions.

I think doing something is better than nothing.

Really, you don't think there is a good chance to royally screw things up if you make radical changes with uncertain consequences?

Actually the theory is that we can hold inflation at 0 by printing decaying dollars when we need them and decaying them faster when there is too much.

So what's stopping the current central banks from easily controlling inflation now in this way? Japan, for example, have been trying to get out of deflation for many years. It printed a lot of yen. Inflation is still negligible.

agree to disagree?

Sure. As long as your proposals are not mandatory :-)

If you aren't willing to pay for the feel good fluff, do you at least want it to happen?

Depends on what. For some things I don't care and for some things I expect voluntary consumer choice to be not an effective method to achieve anything useful.

If not, are you cool with the status quo going forward as long as prices always get smaller?

Status quo as in what we have now? I would prefer things to get better, of course, but I'm not holding my breath :-) I am a social pessimist -- I believe people have a vast capacity to fuck things up...

comment by Slider · 2015-04-21T00:22:36.728Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

From what I gathered if two sellers would sell the exact same product but another seller could sell it at double the price it would become a favoured node. If they were not interchangeable products you could try to argue that the difference must be between the quality of the products. However if the same product has the same use value the measure is more about better extracting profits. There is the effect that given choice of equal product at cheaper or higher price a consumer ought to go with the lower cost. Competetive effects are supposed to kill off overpriced products but giving a bonus to seller for having a big mark up dulls their teeth.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T02:38:19.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a tough one because most of the readily available literature on competition and market take a specific approach. Specific in the sense of time. Of course at the instant we don't want people favoring more expensive things...unless there is a damn good reason to. If you add in time though things get very interesting. This system alters the proposition to current market decision + future potential. You wouldn't pay more just to pay more, but you might buy a Tesla instead of a Honda accord because you think that Tesla had better long term earning potential and you are getting in on the ground floor.

Most of the things we buy aren't commodities. There is some trade off on features vs cost. This system does tip the scales toward things that may be more expensive, but only if there is a long term advancement that can be leveraged.

In the instance where we actually deal with a commodity, more emphasis will be placed on the long term repetitive production of that commodity. If the commodity can't be renewed it will be less favored. Thus I'd expect a vector away from depletable goods and toward renewable alternatives.

These assumptions are harder to work into a model.

comment by Slider · 2015-04-21T15:47:51.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could offer the Tesla at a high price or a lower price. If the price is higher individual sells will move the company quicker to ground floor. That is Tesla + 1 stock will probably cost less than Tesla + 10 stock. But what is that prevents from offering the option of Tesla + 0 stock or the minimum amount of stock allowed?

There is also the issue that if you think you can afford Tesla + 5 stock but could not afford Tesla + 0 stock you might end up with Tesla that bombs harder than just taking a unpaybackable loan for Tesla + 0 stock. That is when the future component factors in to everyday products future speculation will impact the price of milk. People might have a bigger resistance to buy into things because it doesn't need to only work in the moment but it needs to work for the future as well. You can't look at your accout balance and know how well of you are as you are expecting uncertain returns, returns you might need to stay on the positives.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T17:17:28.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not quite sure I understand your concerns. Are you concerned that people will offer different levels of stock to different people? That is not exactly how I imagined things working. $1 spent = 1 unit of stock(point/air line mile/smoods/call them what you will it is a unit of account).

In general I think we should be more forward looking. I don't see much of a negative in causing people to consider the future implication of their actions. We are limiting anyone's freedom. You can still buy from the less attractive vendor if you want.

comment by Slider · 2015-04-22T02:53:48.573Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Even if the amount of "stock" is the same constant for everybody there is still a decision how big a portion it should represent. In the extreme the only stocks are from the $1 in 1 stock out principle. But in a way the enterpreneur should also have stock in it. If the enterpreneur reserves 1000 stocks for himself that would be the equivalent of a 100 stock person giving out 10 stocks per $. If the starter doesn't have any stock he doesn't own it he just operates it for the customer-owners.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T16:29:06.838Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh...I see...The 'stock' that consumers get in hypercapitalism isn't a stock of ownership or voting stock. It is a kind of non-voting prefered stock. Really it is more like an airline mile. It doesn't affect what dividends are paid or the cap table.

comment by Slider · 2015-04-23T00:30:35.503Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay I think I identified more preciusly what is it. I will just call it arbitrarily "shard" to make special note that we are defining (or I am figuring out) and that analogs with other things might not apply.

Shard is a right that has a holder and target (ie it can be spesified as a two place predicate s(a,b)). Having multiple shards of same holder and target can be expressed as having a single relation with a strenght in it (ie that s(a,b,100) a has 100 of shards on b).

During regular intervals (which most simply is annually but can be tought to also happen smoothly constantly) there happens a lazy money redistribution event. First we mark everybodys money as "lazy". We take a portion of everybodys lazy money that they have and mark "waking percent" of it as unlazy. This money will no longer be touched by the event and where the money woke up will be availble to use after the event. For each person we take whatever lazy money they have left (the remaining "dozing percent") and distribute it equally among all shards that have that person as their target. If A has 10000 and we use 90% waking percent this result in 1000 lazy money and B has 10 shards on him, C has got 25 and D got 5 then B gets 250, C gets 625 and D 125. This happens "simultaneously" for everyone ie can be done in any order (you have to keep track of money before the round started and received this round). Then we start again by waking up percentage of the money of the lazy money and keep doing this until some cut off point (such as under 1$ moved total in round) where the amount of lazy money is low.

This is the claim and the effect of the shard (once it exists). The interesting thing is that the more shards you hold the more you stand to benefit from the redistribution event. Eveyrthing else is derivative of this effect.

Now the idea is that shards are created when you transfer money to someone. Thus a person can't have more lazy money than there are shards on him. A person can have way less lazy money. If you can't go into the negatives the least is 0. However by giving it away you inevitably create shards into your holding. Thus even if your own lazy money would be 0 the lazy money you get from the shards will partly go to those that hold shards on you. And because money can't be destroyed or created by moving each round the money shuffled around is constant. Thus shards can never be totally worthless (in the sense of giving you right to 0 amount of receiving in the redistribution event). However shards that are more "direct" are worth more. With a waking rate of 90% making a shard to person that won't have lazy money but will make shards only to totally lazy persons is worth 0.01 in the next distribution event while a direct shard would have been worth 0.1. However being the middle man, receiving 1 money and giving it to a totally non-giving (lazy) man is worth 0.09 money in the next redistribution (if all you do is this kind of thing) while the net effect on your point wealth is 0.

To paralel I will give a different formulation. Define a totally unrelated instrument that I will arbitrarily call "portion". Portion is also a holder,target,magnitude kind of thing. It also is relevant in a redistribution event. Howeve the rules differ a little. All of the lazy money is shared equally among portions. If the portion is on yourself you mark it as unlazy and get to keep it after the event. Then the lazy money is given to the portion holder. Repeat until lazy money has sufficently vanished.

Now the portion generation mechanism is this. When you transfer money to a party you generate a "prociety percentage" of portions on the recipient to yourself and whatever remains of 100% you generate portions on the receiver to the receiver. That is A giving 200 to B with prociety percentage 10 will net A 20 B portions and B 160 B portions.

Both the shard mechanism and portion mechanism results in the same redistribution of money and shards are as valuable as portions. You just never have shards on yourself, so it can be likened to a notational difference. However the idea is that your shard value represents your skill as a consumer. It sounded somehow as plausible idea but as I explictly write it out it seems that those with highest shard values have the lowest trickle-down effects on the economy. If it would be true then the consumer with no consumption would be the master consumer (if all depend on you but you don't depend on anyone it makes sense). It would also seem to reward those that get those that didn't consume to consume.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-22T16:41:59.928Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you precisely define what this consumer 'stock' is? You seem to think of it as a legally binding claim to a long stream of future payments which make it look like a bond. An airline mile is basically a disguised discount and it's a one-time thing, you use it and it's gone. Preferred shares have no legally binding obligation to pay out anything.

comment by Viliam · 2015-04-20T23:22:34.975Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

this is NOT the meaning in which mainstream economics uses the word "rent"

Wikipedia has an article on "economic rent", so it probably is an existing term, although I have never heard it before.

Seems like "rent" is an income from a (generally) limited resource, while "economic rent" is an extra income from a resource that (locally, temporarily) acts like a limited resource.

Just like apples are generally not a limited resource, but if you need an apple, and your time is limited, and there is only one shop on your way, and it contains a limited amount of apples... then those apples here and now behave like a limited resource.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T03:10:17.500Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, exactly. Most economic theory assumes 'in the moment' and a bit of God like reach. In the real world we have to deal with time and space.

For most of us working stiffs, when we go to the store to buy milk we are charged an large amount of economic rent to buy it cold, in a container, near our home. Despite the fact that you really need to drive an hour or more to find a cow. Given infinite time and teleportation, we'd hit the farm and get it for much, much less. You only have to look to digital assets to see how this plays out. This isn't a bad thing. We want the farmer, the pasteurizer, the delivery man and the grocery store to stay in business, but we also want them to do it better, faster, cheaper next time. General market dynamics cause this to happen a rate. I want it to happen at a faster rate.

comment by Viliam · 2015-04-20T23:14:15.718Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think what the linked article was trying to say was something like this:

In an imperfect market, even goods that are generally not limited, can sometimes (locally, temporarily) behave like limited goods, thus increasing their price. We will call these unexpected extra payments "economic rent" because of their similarity with rent, which is defined as an income generated by owning a (truly) limited resource.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T17:06:15.998Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I need a better way to intro the concept. Would you be willing to help me work through that?

Does this video help at all? Maybe I need to have this as text? Maybe simplify it first?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T17:09:38.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't like videos for explaining concepts, but that may be just me.

First question: what is your aim? What is the problem you're trying to fix?

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T17:58:11.446Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a better question is what do I know and how do I know it? :)

Money was different than it is now 40 years ago. It was different 30 years before that. I know this because wikipedia tells me that Nixon took us off the gold standard in the early 70s and that standard was established at Bretton Woods in the 40s. Because of this I apply a very high probability to the likelihood that our money will operate differently in the future then it does now.

I guess the problem I'm trying to solve is, if we are likely going to be using a new kind of money in the future, do I want that to be a good kind of money or a bad kind of money. I want it to be a good, human centered kind of money that help us solve hard problem and makes the world a better place.

I think I know that our money is 'bad' (sub-optimal may be a better word) because I look around our world and I see the following things:

A crappy income tax An inability to get money out of politics ultra poor people Ultra rich people Wasted human resources (see the entire finance industry) Corporations sitting on billions in cash when they could be ending cancer

I think changing our money can solve some of these issues because I've read the literature on what drives people to make economic decisions. If we can implement a system that rewires the drivers in a positive directions, we can solve some of these problems.

I think hypercapitalism is the answer because I've written some simple models that shows it is more efficient that regular capitalism. I left 10 other solutions on the cutting room floor before I put this together.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-04-20T18:38:19.289Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that your system involves a serious loss of privacy. Does it? If so, do you think that's a problem?

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T19:29:02.870Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great question. Privacy is important. How important is it? I'm not sure.

For example, I have some Apple stock. I don't hold it anonymously because I want to them to know where to send the dividends. People tend to quickly lose interest in privacy when they have something to gain from not being private.

On the other hand there are certainly some times where you want privacy. The system allows for this by having privacy pools that you can pay through that preserve privacy. It isn't as optimal as knowing exactly where the money came from, but if we can optimize 80% of transactions and 20% still need to be private, we can gain a lot of ground.

There are also some cryptographic solutions to the privacy issues that could solve the issue of privacy.

comment by Viliam · 2015-04-20T23:28:29.289Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How much Apple stock do you own? Enough to motivate someone to kidnap your relatives and blackmail you? Then you would get interested in privacy again.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T03:22:00.603Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Potential absurdity bias maybe? Tim Cook has a ton of apple stock and I don't see many kidnaping attempts. Someone tried to blackmail David Letterman a few years ago and that guy is in jail. This is certainly in the realm of possibility, by I think highly unlikely. Now if you want to talk about your deadbeat brother in law hitting you up for a loan....again...maybe that is an issue worth addressing, but I bet your 3000 sq ft house says more about that than your blockchain activity.

You certainly wouldn't want to try this without some significant rule of law.

...and besides, I do think privacy is important and you have to have a mechanism for it. Hypercapitalism has a mechanism.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-20T20:00:23.882Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is money that decays (aka negative interest) a good thing? It seems to me that positive interest is a desirable feature of the capitalist system.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T03:27:58.240Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The map is not the territory. Money that doesn't decay isn't representing something real. And when this happens someone ends up holding the bag.

Positive interest is beneficial to bankers.

Give this parable a read: http://www.altruists.org/f245

comment by SilentCal · 2015-04-21T17:17:11.624Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

But you can also write the opposite parable:

Crusoe has finished planting his most fertile fields and is preparing to plant his remaining seed in the less fertile adjoining land when the stranger arrives.

S: I have found some excellent fields, too far from your home here to be of any use to you, but which will serve me well; and I need only some seed. I see you have some excess, which will be much more productive in my fields than in yours; might I borrow it, and easily repay after harvest?

RC: How much seed will you repay me, for each I lend you now?

S: One seed for each; my religion would forbid any other arrangement.

RC: The land I intend to plant them in is not so lush, but even so I expect to reap many times the seed I plant. Where is my self-interest in placing it where it will yield less?

Moral: some goods decay, but others can compound themselves--or, more often, create other goods that can create other goods in a long chain that ends with more of the first good.

The role of money is to make such long chains implicit; a positive real interest rate reflects that such chains are possible for most goods, and any exceptions will increase in price faster than interest accumulates.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T01:15:21.719Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great comment and I've been thinking about it for most of the day. Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking on it and will respond in a bit.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T02:26:50.550Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I love your counter-parable. It does an awesome job of showing what massively complicated thing we are discussing. Land, money, consumables, exponentionables(your seeds), all have very different characteristics and drivers. Interest, investment, production, savings all are slightly different ways of talking about some of the same concepts.

I'm trying to get to the bottom of this statement and am having some issues:

The role of money is to make such long chains implicit; a positive real interest rate reflects that such chains are possible for most goods, and any exceptions will increase in price faster than interest accumulates.

Could you unpack it some more?

You can correct me where I'm wrong, but I think what you are getting at is that the current abstraction of money and the idea of interest paid for borrowing it is optimal enough to reward the people that put up the cash for the value that it creates? And if a good isn't one of those exponential type things, the price just keeps going up faster than the interest rate because of its implicit limitedness?

Do you think RC would be more willing to make the more productive choice if he could benefit from all of the upside that lending the seeds produces or only the amount that is agreed upon? I think what I'm trying to get at with hypercapitalism is that we want RC to seek out the best use today instead of the best use tomorrow because if he waits until tomorrow all the work that could have happened to day can never be redone.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-04-22T14:57:01.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You can't plant a pie and grow two pies, and in fact it will go bad quickly, but you might be able to trade the pie for seeds, grow them, and reap enough to trade for two pies. If no one with seeds wants a pie, you might have to make a chain of trades, e.g.trade the pie to the cobbler for shoes and trade the shoes for seeds.

Even if you don't want to grow seeds yourself, you might trade the pie for farm tools, then trade those to the farmer in exchange for seeds at harvest, then trade the seeds for more pies.

Now it's not guaranteed that these sets of trades are possible. It could turn out that the best deals you can get will leave you with half a pie at the end. But usually, if some goods can be used to make more goods, and baking pies isn't going to get any harder in the future, exchanging pie today for pie tomorrow will get you more pie.

Money and financial institutions abstract trade chains away, so you can sell your pie, put the money in the bank, they'll make loans to people who can pay back more in the future, pay you interest, and then you can buy more pie. The interest isn't a distortion caused by money; it reflects a possible set of trades that might not be obvious but would be possible. If such a set of trades doesn't exist, you won't have positive real interest (real interest is the published interest rate minus inflation).

If you give all of the upside of the loan to RC there's nothing left for the stranger and no reason for him to bother. If they're able to negotiate an interest rate, they'll find a deal that works for both of them. An equity arrangement where RC gets a defined percentage of the stranger's harvest instead of a fixed amount of grain is also something they could negotiate in traditional capitalism, if such a deal were preferable to both parties.

comment by Pentashagon · 2015-04-28T04:53:34.246Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In your story RC incurs no opportunity cost for planting seed in and tending a less efficient field. There should be an interest rate as a function for lending the last Nth percent of the seed based on the opportunity cost of planting and harvesting the less efficient field, which at some point crosses 0 and becomes negative. The interest rate drops even more quickly once his next expected yield will be more than he can eat or store for more than a single planting season.

If RC is currently in the situation where his desired interest rate is still positive for his last unplanted seed then his capital is constrained and he should instead ask for investment seed from S, for which he would be willing to pay interest.

In order not to starve RC should aim to grow sufficient grain such that his probability of having too little is lower than some risk threshold. In most cases this will leave him with excess seeds at every harvest (beyond the extra seeds required to avoid starvation risk) which he can lend. Depending on his assessment of the loan risk, he may even be able to save himself time and trouble by growing less grain to produce fewer seeds with the expectation that his loan will be repaid, which would allow him to realize a profit on an otherwise zero-interest loan.

Likewise, money below a certain threshold should compound; beyond that threshold it represents unacceptable opportunity costs for exercising its power as if it had been used to purchase excess goods. Investing/loaning those purchased goods should be the basis for money's value beyond the threshold.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-21T04:41:30.022Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. Thanks for the link.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T20:11:34.864Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You want positive interest for an investment (aka money put to work) and you want to provide disincentives for people who hold cash (aka idle money) which just sits there doing nothing useful.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-20T20:22:01.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense I guess. But under fractional reserve banking, any money that is "idly" sitting in a bank account earning interest will be loaned out by the bank to someone who will put it to good use. Similarly, if I buy an interest bearing corporate bond, the corporation that is paying me interest will put the money to good use. It seems to me that interest is a good mechanism for incentivizing those who have money to make it available to those who need it for some productive purpose.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T20:35:08.140Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

any money that is "idly" sitting in a bank account earning interest will be loaned out by the bank to someone who will put it to good use

Yes, but there is also money -- cash -- that just sits in a safe-deposit box or under a mattress. Or think about gold bars.

It seems to me that interest is a good mechanism for incentivizing those who have money to make it available to those who need it for some productive purpose.

This is true. Negative interest rates are a curious contemporary phenomenon. I would probably attribute their existence to two main factors: (1) The desperation of central banks to stimulate the economy by forcefully shoving more and more money into the system; and (2) The global capital glut with its search for safe havens.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-20T20:45:49.609Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Negative interest rates are a curious contemporary phenomenon.

OK, I understand the motivation now. I was thinking in traditional (pre-2008) terms. IMO of the two factors you list, #1 is the biggest reason for the ultra-low interest rates we are seeing now. The way to fix that, IMO, is for central banks to stop pumping money into the economy via quantitative easing, etc. If there really is a global capital glut (and I suspect that there is), holders of that private money will respond to the cessation of central bank easy money policies by making that money available via interest-paying loans.

Yes, but there is also money -- cash -- that just sits in a safe-deposit box or under a mattress. Or think about gold bars.

If interest rates are allowed (by central banks) to raise to healthy positive levels, holding money under a mattress will become prohibitively expensive in terms of a lost opportunity cost. IMO the solution to the "idle money" problem is positive interest rates of the type we saw prior to the economic downturn of 2008.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T20:58:22.278Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Governments get addicted to very cheap money (aka ultra-low interest rates). Going back to "normal" interest rates will provoke withdrawal pains and some governments (e.g. Japan) are not in a shape to even survive that.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-20T21:09:43.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Going back to "normal" interest rates will provoke withdrawal pains and some governments (e.g. Japan) are not in a shape to even survive that.

I suspect that you are right about that. Still, I think that what is needed now is higher interest rates. Perhaps the central banks of countries with stronger economies could lead the way by tightening money and the weaker economies could follow on whenever they are economically able to. I thing you'd see a short-term negative reaction from Wall Street, but I don't think that it would last, primarily because the aforementioned global capital glut will be able to supply capital (in fact, as I understand it, putting that idle money to work is one of the goals of the OP).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-20T21:15:05.243Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that is happening. US is on track to start raising interest rates later this year. I am not sure in which shape Europe will emerge from the Greece clusterfuck, and Japan is basically a basket case.

I don't understand the goals of the OP, but as far I could see he wants to give buyers some long-term interest in the well-being of the sellers they buy from.

From a practical standpoint there is no shortage of money in the world, availability of capital is not a binding constraint.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-20T21:27:31.201Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that is happening. US is on track to start raising interest rates later this year.

Great; I think that higher US interest rates are a good thing and will help restore economic stability. Hopefully Japan and the EU will be able to follow on in the not too distant future.

Question to skilesare: what is the hypercapitalist take on rising interest rates? My impression is that hypercapitalism encourages negative interest rates. Am I understanding that correctly? Or, is hypercapitalism a reaction to negative interest rates?

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T03:49:35.172Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Question to skilesare: what is the hypercapitalist take on rising interest rates? My impression is that hypercapitalism encourages negative interest rates. Am I understanding that correctly? Or, is hypercapitalism a reaction to negative interest rates?

I think rising interest rates should be a natural phenomenon arising for money getting more expensive. I also think that there are not many good reasons for money to get expensive. Money is a tool and a score keeper. It isn't anything real. There should always be enough money in circulation to buy all the things that can be produced. If you've ever felt that you didn't make something because money was too expensive then...money was too damn expensive.

This is an issue in an agrarian economy where most of your gdp is made up of actual limited resources. As we move toward automation, maker bots, massive computing power, etc the amount of our economy that is made up of people paying for the production of 'limited only by means and imagination' products and services will only increase.

Interest(and note that interest is not the same thing as return on investment) should be zero or negative until every person on this planet is making a heart wrenching decision on the order magnitude of spending their time curing cancer or solving world hunger.

To make money this available you have to have a means of destroying it when you approach these situations to control inflation. That is where the decay factor comes in. You can print it when you need it and burn it when the world gets stumped for progress.

Negative interest rates that we see today are a reality to deal with. Hypercapitalism manages this by flipping bankers to a form of vc where they make their profits off of the long term success of the people they lend money too instead of the interest charged. I think this is a better way.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-21T05:32:25.293Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the response and clarification. These are interesting ideas and a radical departure from the current economic situation. If I have time, I would like to read more of Silvio Gesell's theories. And, I'm glad to hear that you've considered the potential for (hyper)inflation resulting from the increased velocity of money that will result from its increased availability and the fact that consumers will be eager to spend it quickly before it decays.

I am still unclear on what (if anything) is wrong with a modest positive interest rate along the lines of pre-2008 downturn levels. You said:

If you've ever felt that you didn't make something because money was too expensive then...money was too damn expensive.

A converse argument is, if whatever project you are considering is not economically viable if capital costs ~ 8-12%/year, maybe it was not really such a great idea.

And, you said:

(money) isn't anything real

Well, yes and no. My understanding of capital is that it is just wealth used to generate more wealth. For example, if I am a plumber by trade and I need a backhoe to repair a sewer line, the backhoe is capital that I need to complete my project and create wealth. If I don't own a backhoe, I'll probably opt to rent one, and this would arguably be preferable to owning one as it is not every day that I need to dig up a sewer line. Obviously, if someone owns a backhoe, they will expect payment (rent) in exchange for my using the backhoe. By the same token, if I am a real estate developer and I need $100M to develop a project, I would expect to have to pay interest (rent) to use that money. I don't see the difference between paying to use someone else's backhoe and paying to use someone else's money. In both cases, I am paying for capital that I need to complete my project, and I don't really see a problem with that arrangement.

And, as Lumifer said upthread:

From a practical standpoint there is no shortage of money in the world, availability of capital is not a binding constraint.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T13:20:02.946Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the feed back! I'm glad to be having real conversations about this stuff instead of just letting it rattle around in my head.

A converse argument is, if whatever project you are considering is not economically viable if capital costs ~ 8-12%/year, maybe it was not really such a great idea.

Let's look at the data. TTP(Time to profitability)

Tesla - 10 years FedEx - 4 years Amazon - 9 years Turner Broadcasting - 11 years ESPN - 5 years (http://www.inc.com/drew-hendricks/5-successful-companies-that-didn-8217-t-make-a-dollar-for-5-years.html)

This is another example where we ignore time. Of course we want our companies to make money. And we want people working on their best ideas. But how many other billion dollar companies failed because their owner flew to vegas to bet the last $5k on blackjack and lost? The market will eventually settle things out even over time. If no one buys what your are selling, your creditors will eventually catch on. But what if the trade off is over 3 years you learn enough to turn a profit or, if you fail, your creditors get to fold your entity and profit from all the places you spent their money?

This could be a serious problem if we are depleting massive amounts of non-replenishable resources, but in endeavors where the resources are renewable, your only limited resource is time.

You either believe we are in an upward trajectory or a downward one. The data suggests upwards and I'd suggest it is more important to learn as much as possible as fast as possible than to make sure that creditors make money at only 1 degree of separation.

Well, yes and no. My understanding of capital is that it is just wealth used to generate more wealth. For example, if I am a plumber by trade and I need a backhoe to repair a sewer line, the backhoe is capital that I need to complete my project and create wealth. If I don't own a backhoe, I'll probably opt to rent one, and this would arguably be preferable to owning one as it is not every day that I need to dig up a sewer line. Obviously, if someone owns a backhoe, they will expect payment (rent) in exchange for my using the backhoe. By the same token, if I am a real estate developer and I need $100M to develop a project, I would expect to have to pay interest (rent) to use that money. I don't see the difference between paying to use someone else's backhoe and paying to use someone else's money. In both cases, I am paying for capital that I need to complete my project, and I don't really see a problem with that arrangement.

Take a second read of Gessell's parable and try to put aside the availability bias that we all currently pay interest.

Why is it obvious that someone would demand payment for use of a backhoe? If the backhoe is in use to you and returning cash to you then of course you would not take it out of service to rent to someone else unless they offered a premium. But if it is sitting idle in a work yard rusting, all you want back when you loan it out it your resource in the same condition you lent it in. This may have the cost of maintenance, oil, grease, etc. In a perfect market this is all you would be able to get for your backhoe and you'd be glad to get it. The potential for a backhoe is how many ditches it can dig, not how much money it can make for other people digging ditches. If you charge someone two ditches for them to dig one ditch, that is 'economic rent' that we seem to have some differences on. Of course it is profit for the renter, but we still only have one ditch.

The use of money only demands interest because it doesn't have a carrying cost. The banker doesn't need to part with it because $1 dollar will still be $1 tomorrow. If $1 were worth $0.80 tomorrow, some banker somewhere would be more than happy to give it to you today in exchange for you repaying $1 tomorrow. He might even be willing to give you $1.10 that he has no use for today in exchange for $1 tomorrow.

I don't know so much if there is a 'problem' with the arrangement we have now(look how far it has brought us), but I also don't think it is 'the best' way.

From a practical standpoint there is no shortage of money in the world, availability of capital is not a binding constraint.

If money is so available, maybe the issue is that people don't know how to ask for the money because they didn't have the money to pay for the education where they teach you how to ask. :)

comment by g_pepper · 2015-04-22T01:34:43.921Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the lengthy reply! I don’t think I quite follow your first point. However, by listing several companies that took multiple years to become profitable, you illustrate that our current system is equipped to support endeavors that are not immediately profitable.

Take a second read of Gessell's parable and try to put aside the availability bias that we all currently pay interest. Why is it obvious that someone would demand payment for use of a backhoe?

While I read and enjoyed Gessell’s parable, there are some special conditions in the parable that make it not particularly applicable to many real-world scenarios, including my backhoe scenario. The stranger planned to borrow buckskin clothing, seeds, etc., from RC and pay them back in kind with zero or negative interest. These were things that RC had no immediate use for, and that would deteriorate if not used (like money under hypercaptalism). So (and this is the point, I think) the stranger was doing RC a service by borrowing these things, using them, and paying back later in kind with new products that had not suffered deterioration. However, in the case of my backhoe example, a plumber needing to borrow a backhoe would probably borrow it from one of two sources:

  1. A tradesperson who owned a backhoe for his/her own use, and rented it out when idle as a secondary revenue stream, or
  2. A business that buys equipment specifically to rent out at a profit

In the case of #2, clearly the business would not purchase a backhoe unless it expected to be able to rent it out profitably. In the case of #1, the tradesperson who bought the backhoe uses it him/herself, so it is not in danger of getting rusty or falling into disrepair due to lack of use. So, even in case 1, there is no advantage to the tradesperson to lend out the backhoe unless rent is charged. And in both cases, there is effort and risk involved in loaning me the backhoe – risk that I might damage it or not return it, and effort in running a credit/background check on me prior to lending me the backhoe, taking and verifying a credit card or other collateral to (partially) mitigate the risk of my absconding with the backhoe, inspecting the backhoe upon return, etc. So, in both cases, there will be no incentive to lend the backhoe (and plenty of incentive not to) unless sufficient rent is received to make the exchange profitable to the backhoe owner (break-even is not sufficient). And yet in both cases, the backhoe owner is providing an economically useful function (as anyone who has ever had a one-time need for a backhoe can attest).

But if it is sitting idle in a work yard rusting, all you want back when you loan it out it your resource in the same condition you lent it in. This may have the cost of maintenance, oil, grease, etc.

It is unlikely that anyone who has no need for a backhoe and did not expect to be able to rent it at a profit would own a backhoe. Therefore it is unlikely that anyone will be willing to loan one just to keep it maintained and in good working order.

In a perfect market this is all you would be able to get for your backhoe and you'd be glad to get it.

A perfectly efficient market is an abstraction; something that we can approach but never reach. Nor would we necessarily want to reach it.

The use of money only demands interest because it doesn't have a carrying cost. The banker doesn't need to part with it because $1 dollar will still be $1 tomorrow.

Actually, in our current economic system, money does have a carrying cost – inflation. $1 today is worth less than $1 tomorrow when you adjust for inflation. In fact, hypercapitalism has several characteristics of an economy with high or hyperinflation, e.g. high velocity of money, decaying value of money, strong incentives for consumers to spend money quickly, etc. It seems to me that hypercapitalism would have many of the same disadvantages as high or hyperinflation; I imagine that no one who had lived in Weimar Germany or in Zimbabwe in 2008 would be eager to “build in” decay into currency unless it was a very modest decay.

If money is so available, maybe the issue is that people don't know how to ask for the money because they didn't have the money to pay for the education where they teach you how to ask.

I am not sure that there is an issue; what evidence do we have that there are a lot of under-served qualified borrowers? And, in addition to loans, our economy has other avenues for obtaining funding, e.g. venture capital, stock issues, crowdfunding, etc.

It seems to me that our current system (or at least our pre 2008 system) has a slight currency decay (inflation), disincentives to holding money idle (inflation and lost opportunity costs) and incentives to make it available to others who may need it for productive purposes (positive interest above the inflation rate). So, aside from phasing out central bank “easy money” and stimulus policies, I am not sure that our system really needs to be fixed.

comment by Slider · 2015-04-20T19:24:41.830Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had serious trouble distinguishing where the presentation of the idea starts and background introduction ends.

It all kinda had a vibe "ideas that I think are cool and solve things" rather than being a solution candidate to a problem.

It also seemed that people that get the most ripped off receive the biggest bonuses, which kinda makes sense as those are preciously the victims of vacous money generation. But I am suspecting that the argument how transaction volume somehow correlates with most potential to make value isn't as waterproof as it should. Wouldn't all things bubble all the time? That is if you could afford your spending pattern only because of the bonuses if you fail to repeatedly buy a product you usually buy you also indirectly cause that provider to be less worth making you get even less bonuses.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T14:35:30.785Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You are on to something here and I think you are tracking pretty well with what I'm putting forward. There is a tension between 'do I keep spending money with grocery store A that I have a long history with and get significant dividends from' or 'do I go with the new upstart where my money is getting in earlier in the game and who probably has more long term potential'.

Hypercapitalism put forward the idea of limited corporate lifespans where the law of diminishing returns eventually catches up with the growth potential of an existing corporation. I've run these models too but don't have them out in public yet.

The theory is that this increases the turnover of corporations and allows for more 'fresh starts'. In a sense it is like natural selection for ideas and commerce, but hopefully we do a better job of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next than nature did for billions of years.

Bubbles are an interesting thing to think about. They mostly happen because of the complexity that arises in the market. When the housing bubble burst, it was such a big deal because the people that had made the profits on the way up had taken the money and run. There wasn't a systematic way to smooth the risk. We have the computing power to day to track all of that so that when a bubble happens we can smooth risk and fallout and ask, 'Ok, now what did we learn.'

Think about the late '90s tech bubble. How much did we learn? A ton! Billion dollar companies are ridding the wave that started back then. But what about the people that were hurt in the process of generating the wave? Today it is tough luck. But it doesn't have to be that way.

comment by Xerographica · 2015-04-20T16:37:57.862Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I love information and economics... so I read through some of your material... but I'm really not sure what problem you're trying to solve.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-20T17:12:42.272Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  1. A slow down in the velocity of money.
  2. How to make money with negative interest.
  3. How to optimize for creating 'good' value.
  4. How to restore the dignity of labor(reconciling leftist 'full value of labor' with the reality of market dynamics)
  5. How to make the robots not kill us.
comment by MaximumLiberty · 2015-04-26T20:58:31.087Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to me that it significantly raises transaction costs without significantly creating benefits. The value paid in cash in our real economy today will be equal to the sum of the cash payment plus the net present value of risk-discounted future payments in your model. That means that there is zero benefit to the parties involved, but introduces a transfer of risk, and increases the complexity of the transaction.

The place the rubber hits the road on this problem is that companies who would receive payment under this approach will not sign up to a system that causes their holdings of cash in the system to decay, if there are other alternatives. You can compare this to inflation in, say, US dollar holdings. The difference is that the US dollar is already widely accepted. It does not have a problem convincing people to accept it. Your system will.

Historically, one of the features that made any commodity more likely to become a currency was that it would not decay. For example, precious metals typically won out over comparably divisible commodities like grain because metals don't rot after a year or so. A currency that rots doesn't seem like a winner.

comment by skilesare · 2015-05-26T15:19:43.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for the delayed reply.

This system significantly reduces risk. It is one of its biggest benefits. Have you tried doing an NPV calculation with 0 risk?

Risk is reduced by folding the blockchain over delinquent entities so that you still procure some future benefit from investors/customers.

I agree though, the benefits must out weigh the negatives...and I think they do. The hard part is convincing businesses that they have more to gain by using the system...or rather that they will be out competed if they don't use the system.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-04-26T22:03:42.637Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The place the rubber hits the road on this problem is that companies who would receive payment under this approach will not sign up to a system that causes their holdings of cash in the system to decay, if there are other alternatives.

Most companies that today accept bitcoin don't hold bitcoin for a while but immediately transfer it into dollar. It's not really a problem for a person who doesn't plan holding currency for a while.

On the other hand the aspect that you don't want to hold the currency for longer periods of time might reduce speculators in the market and produce a currency with less price fluctuation then bitcoin.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2015-04-27T03:28:00.745Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A couple of points that I think are relevant:

First, dividing users of bitcoins into people who spend it quickly and those who hold it obscures the more fundamental truth that all bitcoin users hold them for some period of time.

Second, all businesses have cash holdings. Larger ones have entire treasury departments devoted to doing nothing more than getting a few more basis points on that cash by active management in interest bearing accounts.

The combine to make me very skeptical that people will accept a currency that depreciates in value and is not already accepted. Imagine the interest rate that they would have to obtain just to offset the decay fee. If prospective users know that they can't get such an interest rate, why would they ever sign up for a system that guarantees them a loss?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-04-27T14:19:40.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If prospective users know that they can't get such an interest rate, why would they ever sign up for a system that guarantees them a loss?

It doesn't guarantee a loss, the system is zero sum. People who hold money for longer time lose but other people win because that money is transferred to them.

Let's say you have two self driving cars. If they drive together with 1 meter of distance between them the car in the back is in the slip stream of the first car and therefore needs less energy to drive. On the other hand to be able to drive in that distance the car in front has to immediately broadcast changes in it's speed to the car on the back.

By transmitting that kind of information the car in front gives the car in the back a benefit. It would make sense that the car in the back pays the car in front. That's where you need a digital currency. However you want a currency with a stable value and therefore you might want to use something different than bitcoin.

When cars merge in traffic you also have some cars providing a benefit to other cars. There also the possibility to price those benefits and do digital transactions.

You don't want that some cars hoard all money that they get this way but that they spend it. Making profit isn't really the point.

I personally think that Ripple and Stellar and better for such an occasion than a blockchain based system because of lower transaction fees but it's still worthwhile to talk through possible crypto-systems.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-04-22T00:18:51.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What happens in a steady-state or shrinking economy as opposed to an expanding one?

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T01:17:47.866Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Increase the decay rate and people move money faster and more cash comes out of the economy which keeps deflation from happening.

Things are ok if the economy recovers. In the event of a near extinction event we'll have bigger problems.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-04-21T16:11:20.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think your model gets to the important differences between hyper and normal capitalism. In normal capitalism, people buy from the company that offers them the best deal on the present transaction, whereas in hypercapitalism they're going to buy based on both the present deal and the value of prefs. As I understand it, your model has no concept of present deal, as all rent (in your terms) is captured by the producer.

You could patch this by e.g. splitting the rent between consumer and producer to simulate the producer lowering prices to attract business. But since rent rates are static, the producers offering the best deals will be the same as those with the highest future value. So hypercapitalism wouldn't change the incentives, and even redistribution with reason would be plausible.

tl;dr I'm skeptical that consumers buying based on future value is desirable, and this model doesn't address that.

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-21T17:27:46.795Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can you explain more? Currently I don't care where an apple came from as long as two apples are the same to my perception. If I have a known reason why apple A is made in a more responsible way than apple B, I have no real incentive other than guilt to guy A over B. Under hypercapitalism you would favor A. Now B could lower their price...is that your concern?

I'm not sure where the assumption that rent rates are static comes from. Economic rent just is. It can vary all over the place. if someone comes up with a magic brain cancer pill that can only be used once, the rent extracted for that pill will likely be massive. In a perfect market for table salt, rents are going to be very very small.

As far as the model goes....I don't really have a model of actual capital and commodity products. That should probably be in the next model and it should probably include some form of competition simulation.

I'm skeptical that consumers buying based on future value is desirable, and this model doesn't address that.

Your correct...I make an assumption that if you had the chance to buy a gallon of milk and get nothing in the future vs buy a gallon of milk and get some of your money back in the future that you will almost always choose the second. A lot of people invest in Index funds even though they don't know what is actually happening inside them. I think some people will pay more attention than others, but on net, more attention will be paid and that is the goal.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-04-23T14:25:01.594Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I have a known reason why apple A is made in a more responsible way than apple B, I have no real incentive other than guilt to guy A over B. Under hypercapitalism you would favor A.

Only to the extend that you define "responsible" as likely doing business in a way that makes a profit in the future. Not if you define it in ways about producing little negative externalizes.

Animal products might be a better example. If "responsible" means that the animal suffers less than there no element in your hyercapitalism that encourages a buyer to buy from the more responsible person. If raising animals in a way where the suffer less is bad for business hyercapitalism encourages people to buy from farmers who's animals suffer more.

I'm not sure that it's worthwhile to discourage people from buying from companies that are in financial trouble. Do you think extra pressure to kill weak companies is good?

I make an assumption that if you had the chance to buy a gallon of milk and get nothing in the future vs buy a gallon of milk and get some of your money back in the future that you will almost always choose the second.

Only if the have the same price. Otherwise you calculate the value of money that you are likely to get back by comparing it to how much a similar investment costs and see whether the price difference warrants it.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-04-21T18:01:23.734Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I mean that B could charge a lower price, and 'capitalist reason' would dictate buying the apple from B. I'd urge you not to conflate externalities with future value; there are many reasons one producer could have a higher future value than another, and they aren't all socially beneficial. For instance, farmer B might be an excellent and responsible farmer who's about to retire. Or maybe farmer A uses slave labor and is smart enough to never get caught.

Re: static rent, I meant in your code, not in the idea of hypercapitalism; each node is given pER at the beginning and it doesn't change. Having some kind of time-varying pER that buyers can predict, together with having higher pER nodes charge lower prices, would start to get at the difference between capitalist and hypercapitalist reason, but that starts to get complicated, and I'd have to think a while longer to conclude that it doesn't need even more complexity to make sense. (I've had other thoughts on how to improve your code, but they keep exploding into endless chains of 'but if you add this, then you have to add that')

And when I questioned if future-value-based buying was 'desirable', I meant for society. Take the example of the retiring farmer; 'capitalist reason' would say to buy from them iff they sell the best-priced apple, whereas hypercapitalist reason would penalize them for their lack of future value.

Also, random thought: it'd be cool to add utility measures. I'd suggest utility per node per month as log(spending/necessities).

comment by skilesare · 2015-04-22T01:29:00.587Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a video where I present a more 'real world' scenario. And I mean real world in the loosest sense. In it there are 3 actors that all have their role to play and the fallout is interesting.

https://vimeo.com/user17783424/review/115279592/1bb88f885d

Ultimately It would be cool to build a super detailed economic mode. I also think it would be cool to hook it up to something like World of Warcraft.

I do need to do a better job of 'thinking evil' because we all know there will be people that try to break the system and use its weakness for gain. The retiring farmer issue is a real problem and I've tried to balance it with a loyalty that mirrors what we see in our human life cycles. It is rarely optimal for the 55 year old man to stay with the wife of his youth once she hits menopause and he is still fertile, but we see it all the time...and there is usually something awesome and beautiful about it. Someone who grew up drinking Coke II will stick with it when Coke III comes along because....well nostalgia, loyalty, familiarity. At least that is the theory to be tested.