Thinking About Technocracy

Where to from here?

Global versus local currencies

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Pure Pedantry references a WSJ article on advantages of the Euro in discussing the prospect of a global currency. It’s not a bad idea if you could come up with a rational central banking approach that limits beggering your neighbors. Central banks, which were designed to be technocratic, have recently become highly politicized.  Part of the problem is that macroeconomics is about as scientific as chiropractory these days.

On the other hand, I’m much headed in the other direction.  Those who are use to my ravings will have some memory of my advocating Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) or similar facilities such as local or “complementary” currencies.  I like these vehicles a great deal because they can keep flows circulating in local markets even while that disadvantages some of the users to some degree in a “global “sense.

A lot of people shop local because they realize a sustainable economy entails less transportation and more stability for local producers even if they cannot ultimately compete in shear price terms.  Sometimes quality or choice is a factor, but often it isn’t.  People actually can do things that are not economically in their interest in a price system, yet may be optimal overall (e.g. in the interests of a greater sense of humanity or the earth, etc.)

Germany and France have many local exchange trading currencies.  The E. F. Schumacher Society covers these quite well.  I have long been an advocate even though a number of the programs fail generally through poor management or poor information technology support.

These local currency projects are often linked to place-based charities or other key elements in a local economy and thus offer a range of avenues for keeping value in a geographically specific area.  Calgary has a superb project going.

The contemporary technocrat ought to be  much in favor of de-politicizing exchange rates and money in unconventional terms.  One way to do this is to enact local currencies and micro-credit systems where appropriate and feasible.   They are particularly effective when local economies have excess resources that can be consumed locally to benefit more people in a specific place even though those same resources could also flow outside the local economy to greater individual gain and perhaps greater overall (global or national) productivity.  Such global gain is not necessarily the optimal solution in technocratic terms.


Written by ryanlanham

January 3, 2009 at 12:33 am

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