This seemingly utopian progress encounters a first light shock after 270 years of pleasant growth. Instead of a 2 $ p.p. capital increment like in the previous 10 years the C-group experiences a 2 $ capital decrease p.p. in 1970. In the light of many fluctuations over the years, the regions and the individuals, this may go unnoticed and not give rise to serious unrest. Unfortunately it is not a fluctuation, but the result of a tipping point phenomenon. And as the table shows the onset of a disastrous trend change. The capital of the Cs, that was build up in period of 270 years. evaporates and turns into a small average debt of 1 $ p.p. for all 2,1 million members of the C-group in the year 2010. A debt that would rapidly deepen in the following very short time.
I shall not expand on the impact of it here. First I want to make a correction on the model.
The invention of money facilitated the trade of various products, resources and services tremendously. Its value required anchoring for which in different times and regions different regimes were tried. They varied from shells, salt, metals, like silver and gold and others. The latter two became more or less the international standard.
Manipulators used various tricks to lift the anchor by changing size and relative content of gold in apparently similar coins to fool there trading partners. Alexander the Great attempted to prevent this more or less successful by having his portrait pressed in the coins to certify their content. This worked reasonably well until the invention of paper money. It was introduced as a convenient replacement and worldwide mostly anchored against an amount of gold. Printing however was cheaper than gold digging and offered a new opportunity of counterfeiting or charging future people for products and services acquired today. In this way it was in the beginning sparsely used by governments together with the earlier introduction of trade in government debts.
Piketty's meticulous studies of his data treasure made him conclude that from Medieval times till about 1900 this trick of money creation scarcely influenced national wealths and incomes in money terms. So the $-yardstick for measuring capital I used in the model above was pretty well anchored.
As I started my thinking about the rising financial capitalism in Amsterdam around 1700, I used the dollar, called the Dutch dollar in the Americas, a generally used silver coin, when New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) became the main port of international trade in the New World. Its value was about 1,5 guilder.
In 1900 money creation unattached to production growth, generally called inflation, began to influence national economies and individual wealths. Its use and misuse fluctuated strongly over time and regions. Piketty mentions a trend of about 2 % p.a. with a reservation for all those fluctuations.
A monetary instrument mainly in the hands of governments was gradually extended to other realms of society. First by leaving the gold standard, then by liberalisation of banking and insurance regulations till the present day in which money, or rather credit creation, is dominated by private parties through creation and trade in promises and other derivates. This has led to the curious situation where the total of 'money flows' over the globe more than ten times exceed the trade of products, resources and services.
I’ll leave it to economists to explain to which this scarcely regulated money creation will lead.
Economists have been inventive in circumventing the lack of anchor by using a quotient of current capital value and current annual income as a value indicator. This would be a stable and useful way in a situation of a perfect market it seems to me. But nothing is perfect. What does a stable perfect market mean in the trade of an oil refinery, or the purchase of a nuclear power plant? Do such markets have any connection to the market of potatoes or houses? I think not. So it is not a solid anchorage.
In many economic treatises this quotient of capital and income is measured in %, which, of course, is nonsense. Physicists would not make this mistake. Nominator and denominator have different dimensions. The quotient's real dimension is time counted in years. Blurring an important factor in a complex system blurs the understanding of the system as a whole. Piketty, although often using this quotient and measuring it in %, obviously is aware of this. He also mentions it as time. I think negligence of dimensions should be avoided.
The paradoxical consequences of inflation were imprinted in my mind, when my sister and I talked to our father around the year 2000. In 1940 he had bought the house, in which we grew up, for 4000 guilder. We told him he had become rich. The house was then estimated to value more than 200.000 guilder. He roared with laughter about the craziness of economy. To him the house provided still the same roof over his head, the same protection against winter cold, the same space, in short nothing had changed, since he had used all his savings to buy it. So how could its value have increased? The same must be the perception of the owner of an oil refinery, when an informant tells him that the price of consumer products has gone up.
Inflation, the devaluation of the buying power of a currency, does not affect the rich and the poor in the same way. For the rich it may be used as a profit instrument. While for the poor it means a loss of buying power for their $.
Rich man A may borrow a sum of money from B to instal a sewage system in his living quarter. When he honestly pays back the nominal sum at the agreed time, B might grind his teeth. That is, when he finds out, that to install a similar system in his quarter, the money he received is just enough to install a similar system in only one half of his quarter. Because prices of labour and materials have gone up. A has increased the value of his property for half the price.
Another relative new phenomenon became: creating credit by issuing promises and other derivatives. It enabled the creator to purchase or build new capital goods, without any significant use of his present wealth.
For this reason, instead of proposing a new currency anchoring standard, which certainly will find other manipulators to profit from, I decided to simply include different trends in the model used above. The C-group will see their assets, cash, money savings, bank accounts, income buying power, steadily reduced by 2% p.a. after 1900. While the Bs will profit from the new opportunities to create credit and profit from borrowed money by adding 1 % to their capital growth rate. For the A-group the new opportunities offered by inflation and borrowing plus credit-creation increases also by 1 % p.a..
The result of liberalisation and inflation is incorporated in the capital and demographic evolvement in Table 2.