Tag Archives | Currency

Do You Have Change for a Bowie? The Advent of Artisanal Cash

Here’s a great retro trend that might actually be more than just a hipster fad: artisanal cash. The New York Times reports on the very cool bank notes emanating from the UK:

LONDON — Though paper money here typically bears the visage of Queen Elizabeth, the Brixton district of the city last month released a new 5-pound note designed by Jeremy Deller, an artist who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2004. It features a fuzzy, psychedelic image of an androgynous face surrounded by rainbow clouds and coruscating, swirling etchings.


In England, a £10 note in Brixton, designed by Charlie Waterhouse and Clive Paul Russell, honors David Bowie.

“I wanted something old-fashioned looking,” Mr. Deller said. “Something almost pre-currency.”

One hundred and twenty miles west of Brixton, in the city of Bristol, a pound note issued after a design competition that was open to locals displays a colorful lemur striding atop a vibrant cityscape.

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Telegraph article in favor of ban on physical currency

frankieleon (CC BY 2.0)

frankieleon (CC BY 2.0)

The Telegraph is running a series of articles with controversial economic theories. This one is an article in support of Denmark’s proposed legislation to ban currency and a call for other nations to do the same. It is preluded with a summary of the article: “Forcing everyone to spend only by electronic means from an account held at a government-run bank would give the authorities far better tools to deal with recessions and economic booms, writes Jim Leaviss.”

As I write, over 3000 comments have been posted to the page of this article and the comments are pretty much what you’d expect.

But the move could be a key moment in the advent of “cashless societies”. And once all money exists only in bank accounts – monitored, or even directly controlled by the government – the authorities will be able to encourage us to spend more when the economy slows, or spend less when it is overheating.
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Bitcoin and the Ontology of Money

Image representing the decentralised Bitcoin network

Image representing the decentralised Bitcoin network

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever created.

(Yuval Noah Harari 2011, 180)

Money has long fascinated me, and not for the obvious reasons. Although I’d like to have more of it, my interest is largely philosophical. It is the ontology of money that has always disturbed me. Ever since I was a child, collecting old coins and hoarding my pocket money, I’ve wondered why it is that certain physical tokens can function as money and others cannot. What is money made from? What is it grounded in? Why do certain monetary systems fail and others succeed?

For many years, I set these questions aside, convinced that I had a basic grasp of how they could be answered.… Read the rest

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Bitcoin, the Digital Deluge and the Seeds of an Open Source Society

IMG_6496It’s all been swept up by the digital deluge: the way we create, consume, socialize, learn, all of it. Yet no matter how much of the analog world seeps into the digital realm, the almighty dollar continues to resist the pixel-y tide. The act of currency creation remains an esoteric, behind-the-scenes process controlled by a few privileged, monocle-clad, suit-wearers with fancy titles and special permissions.


Actually, we do have digital money and it’s called bitcoin. It does work, it’s safe and it’s easy to use. On top of that, for the first time ever, no government, corporation or human being can claim dominion over, control, destroy or create a currency. Bitcoin is decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer, lives completely online and created through a programmatic process.

Practicality wise, you can already buy basically anything using bitcoin and a growing number of merchants, services and corporations are accepting it every day.Read the rest

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The Proposal to Redesign the Dollar That’s Weirdly Blowing Up the Internet

So what do you think of this proposed redesign of American paper currency, disinfonauts? From Foreign Policy:

When Travis Purrington, an Idaho-born designer, embarked in 2011 on a project to redesign the dollar as part of his master’s degree, he paid a visit to the Swiss designer Roger Pfund, a legend in the industry and the winner of a competition in the 1970s to redesign the Swiss franc. Pfund’s design was eventually passed over for another but his ideas live on in Switzerland’s national brand, including in its passport, another Pfund creation. “A bank note,” Pfund told Purrington, “is an ambassador for a country.”

That idea is certainly one way to understand Purrington’s ideas about how to redesign the moribund American banknote. Purrington’s 2011 master’s thesis at the Basel School of Design presents that proposal, and it’s blown up online in recent weeks. Wired marveled at the idea of having our money redesigned to celebrate science instead of presidents. 

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World’s Best Currency Counterfeiter Tells U.S. Govt. ‘Screw You’

Frank Bourassa, you may think you’ve just walked away from jail a free man, but I wouldn’t bet on sound sleep from now on – the U.S. Secret Service doesn’t really like being made to seem this foolish. In the meantime, however, ABC News reports on the teflon counterfeiter’s escapades:

A man who claims he is the best counterfeiter in the world, Frank Bourassa, has been allowed to go free after turning over a huge quantity of fake U.S. $20 bills that authorities say are “not detectable by the naked eye.”


Bourassa, a resident of Trois Rivieres outside Montreal, Canada, spent only a month and a half in jail and Canadian authorities agreed earlier this year that they would not extradite him to the United States for prosecution.

He walked out of court on March 28 after paying a $1,500 fine in Canadian dollars.

“I’m safe, absolutely,” Bourassa told ABC News in an interviewed to be broadcast tonight on “20/20”.

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The Bitcoin “Crisis” Explained and 5 Reasons it Can’t be Killed

BitcoinNear the end of last year, Bitcoin was being gobbled up at an unbelievable $1100 per coin. With a cursory glance, at today’s price ($500), you’d think that the Coca-Cola of cryptos is careening toward disaster. In order to understand why that’s not the case, you might need a quick recap on how we got to this juncture.

Via- Midwest Real

For Bitcoin, early 2014 was a PR nightmare. The crypto was constantly being linked to drugs and money laundering, most infamously in the case of The Silk Road. But, the most damning sequence of events was due to a known security vulnerability and good-old-fashioned ineptness. Enter Hurricane Gox. By February, major (but known to be sketchy) Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox had been having problems for quite awhile. Because of that aforementioned security issue, Mt. Gox halted some of their user’s ability to withdraw Bitcoin while they fixed the hiccup.… Read the rest

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Ending Currency Manipulation—Just Follow the Money

Dollar billsRobert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute has some ideas about how to end currency manipulation, posted at TradeReform.org:

Growing trade deficits have cost US workers millions of jobs over the past two decades, (these were good jobs in manufacturing industries).  Currency manipulation by more than 20 countries, of which China is by far the largest, is the single most important reason why U.S. trade deficits have not decisively reversed.  Currency manipulation lowers the value of foreign currencies, relative to the U.S. dollar, which acts like a subsidy to their exports, and a tax on U.S. exports to China and every other country where the U.S. competes with the exports of currency manipulators.

In an era of fiscal austerity, ending global currency manipulation is the best way to reduce trade deficits, create jobs, and rebuild the U.S. economy, as shown in Stop Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs.  

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Fragmentation of Bitcoin Community Begins after the Collapse of Mt. Gox and Secondmarket’s Wall Street Exchange Proposal

bitcoin wall streetvia chycho

A few comments regarding Bitcoin and the recent developments with Mt. Gox (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and the announcement that SecondMarket is stepping into the game and planning to launch the “first New York-based Bitcoin exchange” (emphasis added):

“SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert says that he’s modeling it after the early days of The IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), and that he hopes to have a set of founding members in place by the end of March (i.e., a ‘seat’ model). These members are expected to include Wall Street banks and well-funded Bitcoin startups (think Circle and Coinbase). Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade — at least at the outset — but likely could do business via the member firms.

When Wall Street insiders announce that they are joining your game, but not allowing you to play on their field, which is what is implied with “Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade”, one should be concerned that the fundamental rules of the game may be changing, but, unfortunately, with fear running rampant within the Bitcoin community due to the collapse of Mt.

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The Fantasy Of Apolitical Money

moneyYanis Varoufakis on Bitcoin and the fruitless dream of a de-politicised currency:

The Crash of 2008 has infused our societies with enormous scepticism on the role of the authorities, both government and Central Banks. It is quite natural that many dream of a currency that politicians, bankers and central bankers cannot manipulate; a currency of the people by the people for the people. While it is true that local communities have, in the past, generated successful communitarian currencies (that enabled them to improve welfare in their midst, especially at a time of acute economic crises), there can be no de-politicised currency capable of ‘powering’ an advanced, industrial society.

Since the second industrial revolution made possible the emergence of large, networked oligopolistic companies (the Edisons and Fords of the 1900s, and the Googles or Apples of today), capitalism became dependent on large credit spurts for the purposes of financing these capital corporations’ needs.

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