Guillaume's blog

Thoughts on the future of money

Posts from the “money” Category

Understanding the consequences of quantitative easing

Posted on October 14th, 2010

Lately, there has been a lot of talks about Quantitative Easing, the Fed’s purchase of assets, as a way to fight disinflation or deflation. People talk about it as the Fed printing money, and the media and the population conveys images of Weimar-style wheelbarrows of cash and Zimbabwe. This has fueled an accelerated frenzy in all asset classes, equities, bonds, commodities, including Gold prices, which have reached ($1380/oz). My take is that this frenzy is essentially based on a misunderstanding by most people of how the U.S. monetary system actually works. QE itself isn’t inflationary at all. What is inflationary is expectation of inflation. But because people believe it is inflationary, it can excite speculation, and in turns, generate inflation, if enough people believe…

Funding public art with community currency?

Posted on August 15th, 2009

Last week, Interactive Architecture ran an article about the Singing-Ringing Tree sculpture in Burnley, Lancashire, UK. The video resonated very much with some of my recent thinking on how public art that is part of the commons can be at the heart of community economic development. First of all, it reminded me of an interview of Douglas Rushkoff about his latest book Life Inc where he tells the story of how Middle Age cathedrals were built: The Vatican and central Rome did NOT build the cathedrals. The funds came from local currency. They were what we would now call “demurrage” currencies that were earned into existence. Towns ended up creating more value than they knew what to do with! They started investing in their…

What is a currency?

Posted on March 23rd, 2009

This is the basic question that came up on a Flash Meeting titled “Open Money for Beginners” organized by Christophe Ducamp last Sunday. This is also a question that Eric Harris-Braun, Art Brock and I ended up discussing on a conference call last Friday night. So, I decided to take a shot at it, knowing that not everyone will agree at first, but hoping I can start a constructive debate and that we can agree on a definition at some point. Etymology One angle to start with, is etymology: In English, “currency” comes from L. currentum, pp. of currere “to run”. In French, the translated word is “devise”, which is essentially a motto, something you stand for, a rule you live by. In French,…

Striving for Meaningful exchanges

Posted on March 17th, 2009

I spotted an ad for some photographic equipment for sale on Craigslist this morning that had the following post-scriptum: I have to make rent and times are tough. So make an offer. And this morning in my taxi, next to the “No Check” sticker, a yellow sticker woud read: I am Self Employed Independent Contractor. I’d appreciate your repeat business. One way to look at this is that it is a form of “Authentic Marketing” but I prefer to describe it simply as adding meaning to transactions, in the above cases: helping someone possibly unemployed, or rewarding someone who is contributing via its small business to a wider diversity. These are examples that while exchanges are fundamental for mutual wealth, exchanges aren’t just about…

Thoughts on a Twitter Time Bank with multi-currency support

Posted on March 11th, 2009

Today, Eiso Kant, the co-founder of Twollars announced that he had been working lately on a multi-currency version of Twollars, and that “soon everyone can start their own currency on Twitter”. This could be an interesting development for Twollars, which have so far acted as a multiplier and allocator of the generosity of the sponsors US dollars donations: Twollars are backed by commitment of sponsors to donate real US dollars to the charity of the donator’s choice (the first $1,000 was sponsored by Eisomac Ltd, the creator of Twollars themselves, and it seems they are now looking for a new sponsor for the next $10,000). We will have to wait until more details emerge, as there are many different ways a multi-currency platform could…

Using CommunityWay to save a local community service in San Francisco

Posted on January 20th, 2009

Like many community services, Access SF, San Francisco public access station might close its doors because of a $500K budget cut. I think Community Way might be a good model for them to raise these $500K. Here is how it would work: Access SF issues Access SF dollars.we could also call them vouchers or coupons Access SF negotiates with local businesses to get Access SF dollars accepted as payment for part of what is owned by customers. For instance: a local restaurant would accept 10% payment of the bill in Access SF dollars. Access SF explains that they will advertise Access SF dollars benefit on their channel and Web site, which will attract new business. Access SF sells Access SF dollars to SF residents…

Brazilian community currency helps generate local wealth and jobs

Posted on December 12th, 2008

From the Untergunggenberger Intitut Wörgl blog in Germany Austria, here is a video on the Palmas community currency in Nord-east Brazil, launched several years ago, which has enabled this impoverished community to build and retain wealth locally. Just to give an idea of the scale, Banco Palmas has 2100 associates… 60% of which are below the poverty line. A very detailed description is available. Here are the specific points I noted: Banco Palmas, which was started and is managed by local residents, functions as a local credit union that issues low interest rate loans in the alternative currency, the Palma, and provides also a credit card for payment convenience. Access credit does not require documents, but only requires that local resident voucher for the…

Study finds that shopping near you is better for you

Posted on December 9th, 2008

In May 2007, Civil Economics, an economics research company specialized in sustainable prosperity has issued a research note titled San Francisco Retail Diversity Study (Full Study Executive Summary Talking Points). The main conclusion of the study is that A 10% shift in consumer spending, from chains and internet to locally owned retail, would create nearly 1300 new jobs and over $190 million in increased economic output for San Francisco. Consumers don’t have to spend more, just spend differently. Guillaume here: something not mentioned in the analysis is that more jobs and more economic output in a specific geography where you own a house means that your house increases in value (or keeps its value or decreases relatively less). In other words, by collectively chasing…

Energy independence and currency sustainability

Posted on December 4th, 2008

Chris Skinner just posted a new post on “Social Money” in which he writes about the challenges of online currencies or real-life complementary currencies. I commented at length and making a connection between currency independence and money independence. Money is fundamentally social. Which is why the social Web can be expected to impact banking/payments much more than it has so far operationally. I personally view the monetary system we live in today as a sort of AOL of money where one central organization and its affiliates have effectively a monopole on what is money and how it is created. I think that at the time of AOL, people had a difficult time imagining what an open, decentralized and resilient AOL would be, and how…