Sunday, November 19, 2017

Steve Roth — “In the Beginning…Was the Unit of Account” – Twelve Myths About Money

Jan Kregel presented a great dinner speech at the recent Modern Monetary Theory Conference, touching on some of the fundamental ways we think about money and economics. (Sorry, no recording or transcript available.) I had a brief conversation with him afterwards, and we followed up with a few emails.
The quotation in the title of this post is condensed from the final line of one of his emails — a line that made me laugh out loud:
“So I guess we start from that — in the beginning was the word, and the word was the unit of account?”
Okay, yes: money-dweeb humor. But the implications are kind of profound.
The Word. Logos. Indeed. I’ve written about this before — how writing in its earliest forms emerged from tally sheets, accounting. Even, that its emergence was the first step on the road to outsourcing our memory onto iPhones, maybe even (only somewhat tongue in cheek) causing human brains to shrink over millennia.
Jan’s great line, and our conversations, prompt me to set down some thoughts on this ever-vexed subject. Herewith, twelve widespread usages and conceptions that, in my experience, tie our money discussions in knots. Please assume that anything you don’t like here is mine, not Jan’s, and apologies to those who have heard some of this from me before....
“In the Beginning…Was the Unit of Account” – Twelve Myths About Money
Steve Roth


Matt Franko said...

He’s doing it backwards... the figure of speech always comes after the real entities that the figure of speech later is created to represent ...

Matt Franko said...

Whole confusion might be all emotional (ie female?):

“The findings also shed light on whether the brain tries to understand a familiar idiom literally before it understands it as a metaphor. The left inferior frontal gyrus, the part of the brain thought to be used to suppress literal meaning, was not specifically activated by idiom comprehension; however, the limbic regions, which are involved in emotional responses, were (at 400-450ms).

Dr Proverbio concludes: "though the interpretation of language involves widespread activation bilaterally, the right hemisphere has a special role in the comprehension of idiomatic meaning."

The word does derive from the name of a deified female in the form the goddess Moneta in the Roman pantheon.. the protectress of funds...