Nigel's Eyes

20230226 Gimme the money. If you know what that is.

Some people think money means tokens by which they almost always mean coins and, later, notes.

No. Money is a philosophical construct. Or to put it another way, it's all in your imagination.

There were tokens long before they were made of metal: indeed, on the Island of Yap, stone money is still in evidence (although these days they wear US made jeans and t-shirts and mostly use the US dollar).

But none of this truly matters because money isn't the tokens, nor the numbers in a bank statement. It's a state of mind evidenced by those things.

This is what economists and politicians, central bankers and regulators fail to recognise. They think there is actually a money supply to monitor and control but no, the only way to control "money" is to control the minds of those who define the form and value of those tokens and store and transfer them, be it a chicken, a piece of fabric and plastic bearing the photograph of a historical figure or a gold watch.

It matters not one jot if it's fiat money or a Fiat car. If two people can agree on a value, it's money.

It's more than a quarter of a century since I started trying to make those early "money laundering reporting officers" understand that notes and coin and numbers in a bank account aren't money: they are simply a representation of value that two people have confidence in. When confidence fails, the "value" disappears leaving people with a handful of tokens of no value.

The nonsense talked about cryptocurrency can easily be curtailed, and the real issues discussed and addressed, if regulators and policy makers would realise this basic truth.

I could spend hours explaining this but I won't. I'll give one example that explains why those who don't listen are doomed to fail to understand the most fundamental question in financial crime: "what is money?"

Money needs no physical representation nor even computerised accounting records, it merely requires trust between two people or between a group of people. Let's say that A mows B's lawn and it takes an hour. B washes C's windows and that takes an hour. C bakes some cakes for A's daughter's birthday party and it takes her an hour. Value has been exchanged. It's been accounted for (I could explain time banking but that's only going to blow your mind).

So, literally, time is money.

And it doesn't need a token.