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Old 11-10-2004, 05:03 PM   #1
WineShark
 
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Default Infninte Economy

I am beginning an Infinite Worlds campaign and am seeking some input for some (as yet) unaddressed issues with the setting.

How would the influx of raw materials and affect global economies? Since scarcity will be affected drastically when there are many worlds contributing to the resources available, what will remain valuable? How will businesses and governments compensate?

This applies not only to consumable resources (which should hold some value since they are of finite use) but also commodities whose value is based solely on rarity: precious metals, gems, art, etc.

The economy of Homeline in 2027 is going to be very different from ours, and I am having a tough time figuring out some of the details.

Some initial ideas are:

The parallels can provide:
· Raw materials
· Labor (illegal, but occasionally practiced)
· Technology: a few advanced parallels exist, but are closed or carefully monitored but Infinity to prevent revelation of The Secret.


The parallels can’t provide:
· Information
· Technology – advances in parachronic technology (How tight is Infinity’s control on the tech?)
· Energy: generation and distribution must be done on Homeline.
· Labor (legally)

What concepts of scarcity are still viable? Input from our economically inclined members is appreciated.
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Old 11-10-2004, 06:15 PM   #2
Sam Baughn
 
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

I think that bulky raw materials, like wood, oil and food are unlikely to be cheaper to import than to produce on homeline, unless there is a severe shortage on homeline.

Anything which needs heavy equipment to extract is going to be a problem to import, since getting it from an uninhabited world will require shipping the machinery there in conveyers and getting it from an inhabited world risks drawing attention to the fact that goods are disappearing into thin air.

Art, music and books property are all going to be really easy to import, but that shouldn't mess the economy up much, since the actual cost of producing the stuff in the first place is going to be fairly small compared to the distribution and marketing. Musicians, film stars and writers on homeline are going to be totally screwed though.
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Old 11-10-2004, 08:23 PM   #3
Kyle Aaron
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

I don't think a lot would change, really. Homeline would continue on its present course.

Its present course, I'm assuming is like our own world's. Towards efficiency in use of labour, but not efficiency in use of resources. The future scarcity of resources would cause people to seek efficiency there. Having these conveyers would reduce that scarcity a bit.

However, only "a bit." Remember they cost a fortune.To set up an oil rig or gold mine will cost as much on some other world as it does here - you still need to pay people to dig the holes in the ground, still need the technical expertise, etc. And then you have to add to those costs the costs of transport. When the cost of transport is a $100 million conveyer, well... the cost per ton transported is very high compared to, say, container ships sailing the seas.

I'd be interested more not in the resources that get moved, but the people who get moved; not the economic, but the social effects. You're not going to stop illegal immigration from poor to rich worlds anymore than you can stop it from poor to rich countries in our own world. In our own world, this leads sometimes to racism, for example by Anglos towards Hispanics in the United States. But how would US citizens react if the underpaid migrant labour was not Hispanic, but "fellow Anglos" from a parallel world?

You might get, for example, some countries closing down their universities. Who needs to spend $200 million a year on a uni, when for $100 million upfront and $1 million for search teams, you can hire all the scientists and so on you want from other parallel worlds?

Or consider other sorts of migrants. Think of the German rocket scientists going to the USA after WWII. Now, Germany was only a few years ahead in that technology, but a few years can make a big difference. While the Infinite Worlds setting tells us that Homeline's the most advanced technologically, it doesn't follow that it's the most advanced in every area. If different countries on one world can have different technological strengths, or be strong in one area while relatively weak in another - what about different worlds?

Think also of the unemployed scientists of our world. We worried about former Sovet nuclear scientists going off to third world countries and offering their services. It'd be a logical extension of the current international arms trade to start trading scientists and engineers between worlds. Prime Directive? Haha.

But not only weapons guys. Imagine a Fleming figure going to, say, 1890. Penicillin being invented fifty years earlier would make quite a difference to WWI.

And so on and so forth. Oodles of cheap oil, even if achievable in the game's world of expensive conveyer/projectors, really is the most minor aspect.

Last edited by Jim Bob; 11-10-2004 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 11-10-2004, 08:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Quote:
Originally Posted by WineShark
· Energy: generation and distribution must be done on Homeline.
Couldn't they import (read: steal) magical artifacts that supply power? Or difficult-to-process radioactives? Not exactly the same thing, but the effect is similar.
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Old 11-11-2004, 12:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Quote:
Originally Posted by hjo3
Couldn't they import (read: steal) magical artifacts that supply power? Or difficult-to-process radioactives? Not exactly the same thing, but the effect is similar.
They could. But the generation still happens here. In other words: you aren't transmitting power from a parallel to Homeline. Hence, those industries should remain viable and little changed.

The source book stipulates that the cost of transporting goods via conveyor is relatively low - comparable to sending it via other mass transport - and that materials are indeed brought from other worlds.

I guess the key issue is how replaceable certain commodities are, and how easy it is to bring them in from elsewhere. If you speculate that it is no more difficult to use a conveyor than other transport, it doesn't matter if the oil rig is on Homeline's Gulf Coast or on some other world's. It's just as hard to build in either. But the land rights there are easier to get there and the supply there is more than here.

Now I agree that a large influx of say, wood, or oil, isn't going to change much. Cost to produce is still relatively high - but you don't get $50/barrel oil prices from some conglomerate when you have alternate supply available. It will have an effect on efficiency but price should drop.

Diamonds won't stay sky high due to DeBeers owning 98% of the world's mines. Alternatives would wreck the monopoly. Nations that have large trades in "precious" materials would find them less valuable fairly quickly. (The idea of protecting these monopolies will be an interesting plot too...)

And having a priceless Van Gogh, because it is a one-of-a-kind aint nearly as valuable if there are 3 in existence. The market won't bottom out, but it will change a bit.

I agree that it's all a matter of degree, but some things are going to change, by the very nature of "value." It won't totally devalue any of these things, but it will have a substantial effect. That's the issue.

How much is "some?" I like the idea that a few samples will provide the desired "foreign" factor for Homeline.

Quote:
Imagine a Fleming figure going to, say, 1890. Penicillin being invented fifty years earlier would make quite a difference to WWI.
Sure. But for THAT parallel's future, not Homeline’s. Remember this is not a traditional "Time Travel" campaign. Changing the effects on another world don't affect ours - they may just move it around the time stream and quantum levels some, but not change our present.



Only certain wealthy nations and companies will be able to afford the tech for world-spanning work, but they can gain immense wealth with it. I would imagine it would further stratify some existing relationships...I'm trying to figure out which ones.

The issue of population movement will be interesting indeed, but only on some worlds. Uninhabited and colony worlds are sure to have some transfer. But many of the populated worlds are going to be off limits to a bunch of Homeliners going and setting up shop. If for no other reason than to protect The Secret.

Quote:
Infinite Worlds setting tells us that Homeline's the most advanced technologically
Actually, (according to Time Travel and 4e) other more advanced tech societies have been found - but none have discovered or are able to use parachronic travel. No future parallels have been found; Homeline has the highest Absolute Date. This means that penetrating and learning these new techs is high priority and a very interesting possibility for growth. The key is to keep a low profile doing it.
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Old 11-11-2004, 01:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Most of the interworld economy is going to be commodities. Discover an uninhabited Earth and you've got millions of acres of farmland, scores of untapped ore deposits, and such.

Collectibles (art and such) probably wouldn't be much of a thing. Having 5 of Van Gogh's "Starry Night"s on one timeline will only serve to make each one less valuable. They would likely only be of interest if they were notably different from Homeline versions (Like if Mona Lisa was blonde or Van Gogh lived a few more years in one timeline and painted some more).

Ideas and people are the trickier bits. Some of the tech advances don't even work outside their timeline (Remember Gernsback from AEI?). Transplanting major figures (noted geniuses and politicians, etc.) has the potential to majorly disrupt a timeline, and could also cause the Secret to be leaked. The only safe people are the statistics, those who would be forgotten in their own timeline. That means only unskilled or moderately skilled labor or ISWAT.
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Old 11-11-2004, 02:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Quote:
Some of the tech advances don't even work outside their timeline (Remember Gernsback from AEI?).
Damn, you beat me to pointing it out.
Oh well, go Gernsback! Go Gernsback!
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Old 11-12-2004, 03:01 AM   #8
Kyle Aaron
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Quote:
Originally Posted by WineShark
The source book stipulates that the cost of transporting goods via conveyor is relatively low - comparable to sending it via other mass transport - and that materials are indeed brought from other worlds.
It also states that the cost of getting one is very high. Running it is cheap; getting it is expensive. That's why I drew the parallel with modern container ships. They're expensive to buy, but cheap to run (all relative, of course).

Campaigns gives the price of $10 million for a conveyer or 1 ton capacity, plus another $10 million per ton. A projector's ten times as much.

A conveyer transporting oil, which costs $50 a barrel, can transport about 8 barrels a trip. That's $400 a trip. It's stated that it takes about 30 minutes to recharge after a trip. So, you can only do 48 trips - 24 round trips - a day.

24 trips at $400 worth of oil a trip is $9,600 in oil sales a day. So it'll take 1,041 days to pay off the conveyer.

Of course, someone has to load the thing, and it requires maintenance, too, which it seems likely Infinity will charge a bit for ("licenced technicians only"), and of course you have to build and man and equip the oil drill over the other side, too. At a rough guess, you're looking at ten years before you pay back your initial investment. Most modern companies look at two years to pay back capital investment.

And that's just for the subquantum conveyer. Let's not even think about the quantum ($20M + $150M per ton) or two-quantum ($30M plus $300M per ton) conveyers...

So, either corporations start thinking differently, or the conveyers won't be used to transport bulk goods like oil.

(This reminds me of the calculations I made for the replicators in THS - conclusion - people will still be making bricks in kilns.)

Quote:
Diamonds won't stay sky high due to DeBeers owning 98% of the world's mines. Alternatives would wreck the monopoly. Nations that have large trades in "precious" materials would find them less valuable fairly quickly. (The idea of protecting these monopolies will be an interesting plot too...)
Indeed. Who's got $100 million for a large conveyer or small projector? Not your small prospector, that's for sure. DeBeers has the money. They'll be onto this real quick...

Quote:
[regarding bringing in a Fleming in 1890 with penicillin]
Sure. But for THAT parallel's future, not Homeline’s. Remember this is not a traditional "Time Travel" campaign. Changing the effects on another world don't affect ours - they may just move it around the time stream and quantum levels some, but not change our present.
Ah, not exactly.

Firstly, people will be motivated to move a Fleming around, or pass on the information he has, for profit. It's not going to change our world, but it'll change theirs, and they'll pay good for that. Imagine a 1935 echo of Earth, with Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini plotting away... you reckon they'd pay $10 million for nuclear weapon plant plans? Ten minutes of searching on the internet in our 2004 would be worth ten million bucks in their 1935. That could pay off that conveyer...

Secondly, it's specifically stated that interfering in echoes might change our world. And certainly the echoes can be moved to new quanta. Suppose some low-tech world is being exploited for its resources and people - they might pay to be moved. Or the Reich-5 lot might get subtle like the Centrans, and decide to move worlds closer to their own.

Oil, etc - they seem to me at once the least likely, and the least interesting parts of the possibilities...



Only certain wealthy nations and companies will be able to afford the tech for world-spanning work, but they can gain immense wealth with it. I would imagine it would further stratify some existing relationships...I'm trying to figure out which ones.

The issue of population movement will be interesting indeed, but only on some worlds. Uninhabited and colony worlds are sure to have some transfer. But many of the populated worlds are going to be off limits to a bunch of Homeliners going and setting up shop. If for no other reason than to protect The Secret.



Actually, (according to Time Travel and 4e) other more advanced tech societies have been found - but none have discovered or are able to use parachronic travel. No future parallels have been found; Homeline has the highest Absolute Date. This means that penetrating and learning these new techs is high priority and a very interesting possibility for growth. The key is to keep a low profile doing it.[/QUOTE]
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:02 AM   #9
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bob
Firstly, people will be motivated to move a Fleming around, or pass on the information he has, for profit. It's not going to change our world, but it'll change theirs, and they'll pay good for that. Imagine a 1935 echo of Earth, with Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini plotting away... you reckon they'd pay $10 million for nuclear weapon plant plans? Ten minutes of searching on the internet in our 2004 would be worth ten million bucks in their 1935. That could pay off that conveyer...
The problem (not insurmountable, but requiring thought) with this suggestion is that ten million bucks in 1935 reichmarks from an alternate world isn't worth anything on homeline. Homeline knowledge should have a very high market value in many of the alternates, but in all likelihood, the more they need it, the less they can offer in exchange. So making your fortune on knowledge still depends on the question of what you can profitably import with conveyors.
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Old 11-12-2004, 10:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Infninte Economy

Much of what has been said before is true of the IWs campaign economics.
However remember a few things:
1) Everything in GURPS is overpriced. There is no way the conveyers would ever sell in a real market for what they cost in the book. The THS example is valid everything in THS is overpriced and does not reflect reality at all. Over all the prices of everything fall over time as productivity increases. That is the secret to wealth creation.
2) It is untrue that we do not use resources more efficiently now than 10, 20, or 30 years ago. I don't want to go into a lot of detail but trust me we do.
3) The cost of the conveyers is mostly license fees not cost of production.
Therefore deals will be cut for different prices for different companies, goverments, etc. Also Whitestar Trading would pay almost nothing for thier conveyers so they could bring in whatever they want for almost nothing.
4) There is no reason that techs that did not develop in one timeline but did in another would not transfer. There are many very cool techlines that have not been followed up on for example OTC enegry production or geothermal power. If those techs took off in anouther time line and were refined they would be worth stealing.

Last edited by Timbo; 11-12-2004 at 10:02 AM.
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