Money is just information, not real wealth


Pavan Sukhdev here makes a strange comparison between the loss of notional capital during the recent banking crisis and the ongoing loss of actual capital such as forests. According to the SAPA news story

The world was losing as much potential capital annually through the destruction of forests as was wiped off the major markets in last year’s financial crisis, an economist warned on Friday. […] He said the current pace of forest loss meant a potential economic cost of the order of two to $4.5 trillion a year. “In other words, if we continue business as usual that’s how much natural capital we are throwing down the tube,” he said. That was comparable to the amount of capital lost by Wall Street and City firms when the worst financial crisis in the history of the world hit in 2008.

According to Hakim Bey

Information in the form of culture can be called wealth metaphorically because it is useful and desirable – but it can never be wealth in precisely the same basic way that oysters and cream, or wheat and water, are wealth in themselves. Information is always only information about some thing. Like money, information is not the thing itself. Over time we can come to think of money as wealth (as in a delightful Taoist ritual which refers to “Water and Money” as the two most vital principles in the universe), but in truth this is sloppy abstract thinking. It has allowed its focus of attention to wander from the bun to the penny which symbolizes the bun. In effect we’ve had an “information economy” ever since we invented money. But we still haven’t learned to digest copper.


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