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Old 04-24-2017, 06:11 PM   #31
Irish Wolf
 
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

Books might work as currency, but only in certain specific circumstances. In Lucifer's Hammer, Dr. Dan Alderson, whose skillset as an astrophysicist was not itself terribly useful after Hammerfall, bought his way into the Stronghold with a collection of instructional books (his down payment was The Way Things Work, Vol 2; Vol 1 was safely secured with the rest of the books in plastic bags stuffed into a disused septic tank).
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:44 PM   #32
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The difference is that despite their label, they aren’t talking about currencies at all. Historically, there have only been two types of currency, bullion and fiat.
There are a wide variety of promissory notes that can be treated as currency -- most fiat currencies technically qualify, but really any transferable IOU can be used.

Bullion, in a post-apocalyptic setting, has pretty much the same flaws as fiat currency, in that it's not actually useful for anything, so the only reason you'd accept it in trade for good is if you want it for decoration, or you think someone else will be willing to accept it in trade. In addition, because the stores of potential bullion to be dug up vastly exceeds the size of the post-apocalyptic economy, accepting bullion is likely to result in abrupt economic crashes when a new cache gets dug up.

In general I would not expect a collapse economy to use currency at all, instead operating on a barter basis, and the first currencies will be be promissory notes for goods (i.e. rather than trading a physical bag of grain, you trade a note that entitles the bearer to a bag of grain). There are historical currencies similar to this.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:54 PM   #33
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

I've kicked around an idea, for awhile. It wouldn't happen right away, and would require a reasonably successful city-state to really get started -- although I think it could very well help the area become even more successful.

The idea is to base the currency on calories -- originally, as a measure of the nutritional value of food. It could get started pretty easily -- almost by accident, and would just require a community that went through some tough times, together, and perhaps included some biologists, or agriculture extension agents, or nutritionists. An engraver would help, a lot, as would a blacksmith.

The community of survivors decides to keep most of the food from their harvests and hunting and what-not in a large, strong, easily-secured and centrally-located structure. Everybody who brings food to the storehouse gets a token that says how many calories worth of food they've brought.

The type of food doesn't matter, as long as it was properly preserved or dried or otherwise suitable for long-term storage. Before being stored, the calorie value of the food is measured and meticulously logged, and the depositor can elect to receive tokens for some or all of the calorie value.

The storehouse never releases any more calorie tokens than the storehouse actually contains, and thus all tokens are fully redeemable. Additionally, the tokens needn't be redeemed for the food a particular person brought -- he or she can ask for any stored foods of equivalent calorie value.

Basically, the storehouse becomes a combination bank and grocery market.

For token denominations, I figured:

100 calories = 1 Centacalorie = 1 "cent"
500 calories = 5 Centacalories = 5 "cents" or a "Nickel"
1000 calories = 1 Kilocalorie = 1 Kaycee, or 10 "cents," or a "dime"

5000 calories = 5 Kilocalories = 5 Kaycees. Also known as a "Min," or a "Foodwage" because this is the minimum amount needed for a hard-working adult human being to survive for a day.

10,000 calories = 10 Kilocalories = 10 Kaycees, aka a "Daywage," because this is probably the minimum wage someone would take to work for someone else, in that it allows survival of two working adults, or 1 working adult and two children.

Two working adults who make 10 Kaycees per day, each, can feed themselves and their kids (but can't do much more than that). This is basic survival for a family.

What may make this rather nice is that they could use existing coins as token blanks. Melt them down in a forge (or just make them soft enough to lose the current mint design), and then use the engraved coin dies to strike the tokens.

What also may make this so nice is that it's scalable, in that calories measure not just food energy, but any energy, so as the society gains in stability and productive capacity, the amount of calories that get traded around increase along with it.

That said, it does have issues around inflation for anything other than foodstuffs. As the agricultural output of the area increases, the cost of everything relative to food increases by a lot. The more food is available, the less valuable a unit of food is, relative to other goods and services.

Still, in a post-apocalyptic setting, I think that would certainly qualify as, "A nice problem to have."
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:58 PM   #34
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
For token denominations, I figured:

100 calories = 1 Centacalorie = 1 "cent"
500 calories = 5 Centacalories = 5 "cents" or a "Nickel"
1000 calories = 1 Kilocalorie = 1 Kaycee, or 10 "cents," or a "dime"

5000 calories = 5 Kilocalories = 5 Kaycees. Also known as a "Min," or a "Foodwage" because this is the minimum amount needed for a hard-working adult human being to survive for a day.
Just wanted to point out that the food calorie we all know and love is actually a kilocalorie. A true calorie would be in the neighborhood a single grain of sugar. Not that the post apocalyptic culture would necessarily know that, but it might cause some who read it to skip a mental gear (as it did me). On the other hand, you're also using centi (10^-2 in SI) as being 1/10 of kilo (10^3), so you aren't using SI prefix standards anyway.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:27 PM   #35
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
The type of food doesn't matter, as long as it was properly preserved or dried or otherwise suitable for long-term storage. Before being stored, the calorie value of the food is measured and meticulously logged, and the depositor can elect to receive tokens for some or all of the calorie value.
This encourages me to to only bring low quality food to the storehouse. If I bag a deer, I'm not going to bring it in because when I go to redeem my calorie receipts, probably all I will get is wheat or turnips or something. At the very least, I'd expect something with the same amount of protein as the meat I brought in as well as calories.

On the other hand, if my corn is all contaminated with aflotoxin, I can still bring it to the storehouse, then go back the next day an withdraw someone else's healthy wheat.

Luke
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Old 04-25-2017, 02:26 AM   #36
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

A similar currency idea was mentioned in one of Hugh Cooks' books, possibly the wizards and the warguild.

The currency was backed by pork, from small change, single rashes of bacon. Up to large notes, whole pigs. Centralized pig stys were required.

One other factor when having food backing a currency is how long it stays fresh.
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Old 04-25-2017, 03:04 AM   #37
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
This encourages me to to only bring low quality food to the storehouse. If I bag a deer, I'm not going to bring it in because when I go to redeem my calorie receipts, probably all I will get is wheat or turnips or something. At the very least, I'd expect something with the same amount of protein as the meat I brought in as well as calories.

On the other hand, if my corn is all contaminated with aflotoxin, I can still bring it to the storehouse, then go back the next day an withdraw someone else's healthy wheat.

Luke
Except that in the scenario described the food is analysed and meticulously recorded. You don't want to be known as the person who tried to pass off dodgy poisonous food to what is bound to be a close knit community.
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Old 04-25-2017, 03:37 AM   #38
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Originally Posted by Boomerang View Post
I'm not dead-set against discussing other possibilities. What did you have in mind?
I'm thinking either gift-based economies like those found in some pre-barter/pre-currency cultures, or duty-based ones similar to some medieval societies. If there's no way to keep currency viable and barter convenient, it may make sense for communities to forego both.
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Old 04-25-2017, 03:43 AM   #39
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

Hmm... a pornography-based economy... :o)
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:52 AM   #40
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Default Re: Post Apocalyptic Economics

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Hmm... a pornography-based economy... :o)
That's been done too, "back of the Y" had a mad max parody with that very concept
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