About Trust and Agents Incentives (hadriencroubois.com)

MD: Reply to Hadrien Croubois article “About Trust and Agents Incentives”
HC: Hadrien Croubois
https://hadriencroubois.com
Oct 11, 2017
PoCo Series #1 — About Trust and Agents Incentives
Who am I?
My name is Hadrien Croubois and I am a Ph.D. student at ENS de Lyon. My research as a Ph.D. student focuses on middleware design for the management of shared Cloud-based scientific-computing platforms; and more particularly how to optimise them for workflow execution.

MD: Why in the world should “cloud-based” systems even exist?

HC: However, my interests are much broader and include HPC, physics, and biology large-scale simulations, image rendering, machine learning and of course cryptography and blockchain technologies.

Since September 2017 I am also a scientific consultant for iExec. I met Gilles at ENS de Lyon and it was the perfect opportunity for me to experience working in a team designing innovative solutions.

My role as a member of this team is to study existing work from the research community and provide insight into the design of a proof-of-contribution protocol for iExec. This article is by no means a solution to this complex issue. It is rather an overview of our understanding and ideas regarding this issue.
Why iExec needs Proof-of-Contribution?

The iExec platform provides a network where application provider, workers, and users can gather and work together. Trust between these agents is to be achieved through the use of blockchain technology (Nakamoto consensus) and cryptography.

MD: COIK (Clear Only If Known). The key here is how Nakamoto establishes consensus. You really can’t know from reading the white paper that got all this started. In short, it comes down to “democracy” … i.e majority rules. In this case, over 1/2 the population. Anyone who has looked into democracy knows it cannot work with more than 50 parties involved.

HC: Our infrastructure is divided into 3 agents:

Application providers: They provide applications, which are seen as services.

MD: How do “application providers” originate?

HC: These applications can be called by the users with specific parameters. Application providers are paid for each execution of their application.

MD: Who pays the application providers. Almost the entire Android community of applications are provided at no cost whatever.

HC: The applications rely on the iExec smart contract to manage communications between the ethereum blockchain and the off-chain computing platform.

MD: COIK … what is a “smart” contract? Is it transparent? Who can see it? Who cannot?

HC: Users: They are the clients of the infrastructure. They pay to obtains results computed by the application.

MD: Seems like a non-competitive model. Take the internet itself. It is an infrastructure with no clients and no providers … or better yet, where everyone is both a client and provider. What problem is being solved here?

HC: Workers: They are computing entities that provide computing resources. These resources are used for the off-chain execution of the applications. Workers are paid based on their contribution to the computation of the applications.

MD: Again COIK. Why would workers be just “computing resources?” Seems like (reading way between the lines here) anyone being a source, or an opposition to a source, of information is a worker.

HC: The goal of the Proof-of-Contribution protocol is to achieve trust between the different agents, and more particularly between users and workers, in order for the users to be able to rely on the results computed by an external actor whose incentive is, at best, based on income.

MD: I once sat in a meeting where they made the rule that you had to say 5 nice things before you could say 1 thing critical. Want to guess how that meeting went?

HC: In particular, we want to achieve protection against Byzantine workers (who could provide bad results to penalize users) and users (who could argue against legitimate work performed by legitimate workers).

MD: Right. In sports we call those referees. But in real sports, the contestants referee themselves. We lose it when we establish rules and laws. What we really have is principles … and very few of them, the “golden principle” being paramount. Rules and laws just dilute principles. They essentially say, by defining this particular instance of the application of the principle, we declare all other applications unlawful … and thus have to define all particular instances in law after that … and thus totally lose sight of the principle. It’s called “gaming the system”.

HC: First approach: the result contribution validation scheme

Validation of the work performed by the worker can be achieved in two different ways:

Majority voting on the (hash of the) result.

MD: Like the long list of scientists who “vote” that global warming is real … when almost none of them are meteorologists or have the slightest clue of things physical?

HC: This helps mitigate against Byzantine workers but at the price of computing power overhead. Validating the result for a specific execution requires multiple workers to compute it, thus multiplying the execution cost by a factor m. In desktop grid or volunteer computing platforms (BOINC), this factor m can range from 3 all the way to 20~50. With more replication come more confidence in the result, but that also means that the reward is shared among more worker, reducing the incentive to the workers to contribute.

MD: Have you thought of a hierarchical structure to get around the fact that democracy doesn’t work with more than 50 people involved? The solution is to have each group of 50 solving the problems they can solve. They select a representative for the next lower group of 50 … and so on until you get to the final group of 50. Nothing should make it down to the bottom group of 50 and if it does, that group should come to a unanimous conclusion (establishing the principle) … not a majority conclusion. With this structure you can “democratically” represent the entire population on earth in just 6 layers of 50 person groups.

HC: Relying on a court system to solve conflicts between users and workers (TrueBit). This solution is however complicated both in terms of efforts from the users, who have to check every single result and from the platform which has to implement complex arbitration mechanisms. While this method does not require the work to be executed many times, the arbitration mechanism might call for heavy instrumentation of the execution in order for the worker to provide elements of proof if their execution is challenged.

MD: Better to make users and workers show where what they are doing “is” principled when challenged. Then let a small democratic group judge their “principled” defense … i.e. would they really want to be treated the way they are treating?

HC: A significant contribution was published by Luis Sarmenta (2002. Sabotage-tolerance mechanisms for volunteer computing systems. Future Generation Computer Systems, 18(4), 561–572). The proposed approach is based on majority voting but rather than relying on a fixed m factor, it dynamically “decides” how many contributions are necessary to achieve consensus (within a specific confidence level). The replication level is therefore dynamic and automatically adapted, during execution, by the scheduler. This helps to achieve fast consensus when possible and to solve any conflicts.

MD: Did it ever occur to you that if we had computers before we had internal combustion engines and the subsequent invention of governors that we couldn’t even mow our lawns today? The mower would become too complicated to use … and enormously unreliable … in spite of the enormous computing power that is thrown at the problem.

HC: Fig 3 from Sarmenta’s paper, describing how workers contribute to different jobs by voting on the result.

This approach relies on worker reputation to limit the potential impact of Byzantine agents and to achieve consensus.

MD: Did you read the global warming emails. You see how workers reputations are easily co-opted … how the best of systems are easily gamed by gangsters.

HC: Yet this approach is designed for desktop grid infrastructures, where money is out of the equation. Using the financial incentive of the different actors, we can modify and improve their approach to better fit our context:

Each worker retribution for computing a task can be indexed on their impact on the consensus for this task. In addition, having a good reputation helps to achieve fast consensus with fewer agents (meaning a bigger share for each agent). This gives the workers a financial incentive to act well and have their reputation go up.

MD: Do you think Digital Research would have won out over the deficient Microsoft if your rules were in place? Do you think Borland would still exist?

HC: Workers are required to commit a security deposit (stake) which is seized in case of bad behavior. This gives the worker an additional financial incentive to behave correctly.

MD: And the process for “seizure” is???

HC: The main drawback of Sarmenta’s article is the assumption that Byzantine workers are not working together and do not coordinate their attacks. While this assumption does not hold in our context, we believe we can still achieve it by selecting workers randomly among the worker pool. Therefore Byzantine workers controlled by a single entity should statistically be dispatched on many different tasks and should therefore not be able to overtake the vote for a specific task.

MD: I created a computer language (see WithGLEE.com). As I was creating it I was basking in the environment where “I” made all the decisions. I had no inertia to keep me from abandoning a bad tact, reversing it, and taking another tact. In the end I was delighted with the result. But all the time, the camel that is the collection of internet process (e.g. Java, JavaScript, Python, … etc.) won out, because though they were all deficient as horses, they had a constituency as a camel (a horse designed by committee). Python is the most obvious. You don’t use visual structure as a programming element.

HC: Adapting Sarmenta’s result certification mechanism to off-chain execution

While Sarmenta’s work is interesting, a few modifications are required to work in our context. In this section, we discuss preliminary ideas on how we believe this work could be adapted to iExec needs. Our idea is to orchestrate the exchanges between the users and the workers as described below.

MD: You better find a different word than “orchestrate” if you want to establish trust. Global warming is a perfect example of “orchestration”. Climate change is a perfect example of “orchestration soiling its own nest and having to change its feathers”.

HC: In addition to the users and workers, we have an additional component: the scheduler. Schedulers manage pools of worker and act as middlemen between the blockchain (listening to the iExec smart-contract) and the workers. A scheduler can, in fact, be composed of multiple programs which complementary features but we will here consider it as a single “virtual” entity.

MD: Right. Always leave openings for large numbers of regulators and bureaucrats. Did it ever occur to you that a full 3/4ths of the fruits of your labor go to government? Really bright people, when given the task of maintaining a broom in upright position, would create an enormously complicated platform using all kinds of sensors and PID controllers. Any maid would just suspend it from the top and rely on it’s naturally stable tendencies.

HC: One should notice that our discussion here does not deal with the scheduling algorithm itself. In a scheduler, the scheduling algorithm handles the logic responsible for the placement of jobs and handles execution errors. The scheduler is free to use any scheduling algorithm it desires as long as it can deal with step 3 and 5 of the following protocol.

MD: Ah yes … and to change it dynamically and often to suit conflicting whims. Ask Facebook how that’s working as they bend to demands to filter out fake news … when all they really are is a medium of communication and the content should be none of their business or responsibility. The gangsters are trying to do the same thing to the internet. Their ox is being gored badly … and what could be better than to gore their ox out of existence?

HC: Workers register themselves to a scheduler.

MD: I’m not going to comment further. This is a perfect example of the condition: “losing sight of our objective we redouble our efforts”. It’s also an example of “if I am a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. It’s also an example of “the first and best solution to every issue is government and regulation”.
Read on at your own risk!

HC: Users submit tasks to scheduler managing the work pool they chose.
Workers ask the scheduler for work to execute. The scheduler gives them tasks to be executed. Note: If we are coming from step 5 we should not ask a worker to compute a task it has already contributed to.
The worker computes the result (A) of the task. In order for this result to be validated, the platform has to achieve a consensus on this result. This is achieved through Sarmenta’s voting. In order to contribute to this consensus, the worker commits the result to the scheduler:
a. Generate and memorize (but not publish) a random value r (private disposable personal identifier).
b. Submit a transaction (contribution) with :
i. hash(A) → used to vote on an answer;
ii. hash(r) → used as a public disposable personal identifier;
iii. hash(A+r) → used as proof of knowledge of A;
iv. commitment fund (with a minimum value) → incentive to only commit good results (see later). A higher commitment fund increases the Cr (cf Sarmenta, L.F.) and thus increases the potential returns (see later);
v. A tamper-proof timestamp → Used by the worker to prove its contribution and claim its reward.
With each new vote (contribution) by the workers, the scheduler checks if an answer (hash(A)) achieves the expected likelihood threshold using Sarmenta’s voting.
a. If we do not have a consensus, the scheduler will ask more nodes to compute the same task (dynamic replication) and contribute to the consensus → go back to 3;
b. If we have a consensus continue to 6.
An answer has been selected. The scheduler can now:
a. Publish the elected hash(A). At this point no new contribution is possible.
b. Ask the winning workers for A and r. Having a value of r which matched a correct transaction dating from before the election result is a proof of contribution. At this point A can be published by any worker. The value for r shows that a worker knew the answer they voted for before the results of the election. That way they cannot claim a contribution by just submitting a transaction with the hash(A) published by other voters.
c. Check the correctness of each worker contribution.
d. Put the deposit fund (stake) of all workers who voted for another answer in the reward kitty.
e. Distribute the reward kitty (users payment + deposit fund from wrong workers) among the winning workers proportionally to their contribution (Cr value computed from the reputation and the funds committed to the vote). The scheduler may take a commission for its work.
f. Increase the reputation of winners, decrease (reset) the reputation of losers.
g. Send the, now validated, answer to the user.

Equations used by Sarmenta to compute the credibility of a result from the credibility of the voters.
Trust level, worker pools, and billing policy

Sarmenta’s voting helps to achieve the given level of confidence using worker reputation and dynamic replication. This confidence level is defined by a value ε which describes the acceptable error margin. Results should only be returned if a confidence level higher than 1-ε is achieved. This value is a balance between cost and trust. A lower ε means more confidence in the result, but also requires more reputation/contributions to achieve consensus, and therefore more work to be performed. While this value could be defined by the user for each task, they might not know how to set it and it might cause billing issues.

We believe this value should be fixed for a worker pool. Therefore the billing policy could be defined for a worker pool depending on the performance of the workers (speed) and the ε value used by this worker pool scheduler (level of confidence). The user would then be free to choose between worker pools. Some worker pools might only contain large nodes running technology like Intel SGX to achieve fast result with low replication. Other worker pools could contain (slower) desktop computers and have their consensus settings adapted to this context.

With consensus managed by the scheduler and financial opportunities for late voters provided by the security deposit of opposing voters, the users should not worry about anything. Users pay for a task to be executed on a pool of worker, regardless of the number of workers that end up involved in the consensus. If consensus is fast and easy the payment of the user is enough to retribute the few workers who took part in the vote. If the consensus is hard and requires a lot of contributions, the workers are retributed using the security deposit of losing voters. This gives the workers a financial incentive to contribute to a consensus with many voters without requiring the user to pay more.

In the current version of this work, the protocol is such as the user has no part in the consensus. Payments are done when submitting the task and no stake is required. Results are public and guaranteed by the consensus. Users can therefore not discuss a result.
Assumptions and agents incentives

We believe the protocol described previously to be secure providing a few assumptions are met :

The first strong assumption is the ability of workers to publish their transaction (contribution) in a public manner. The medium used to publish those contributions has to provide a secure way for anyone to verify that contribution have been done prior to the election results. This can simply be achieved using current blockchain technology such as ethereum smart contracts. Still, that should not prevent us from considering other approaches like DHT (distributed hash tables).
The second assumption is that the voting algorithm will, in fact, give good results. This assumption is equivalent to saying that 51% of the reputation (of a worker pool) is not controlled by a single malicious user. We believe this is not a flaw of the protocol for two reasons:
a. All voting based systems, including the Nakamoto protocol, are subject to such attacks. This flaw is not in the design of the protocol.
b. There are strong (financial) penalties for bad actions on the platform and spot checking can be enforced to give more power to the scheduler and help them deal with bad actors. It is a matter of balance between the scheduler and the workers to enable spot-checking or not. We can imagine multiple worker pools, run by different independent schedulers which specific policy. Ultimately those pools could compete to attract the users (with elements such as the achieved quality of results and pricing).

Finally, we believe that both scheduler and workers will be inclined to work correctly in order to provide a good service to the users and benefit from the iExec ecosystem. Having 51% of the reputation controlled by actors wanting to do things right and benefit from it should not be an issue.

Incentives for the different agents are as follows

Users: They are requesting work to be done, and money in a healthy system would only come from them. User incentive to use the platform is to obtain good results for a low price. This will lead them to create a competition between worker pools. Their ability to chose or boycott worker pools create an incentive for workers and schedulers to work together in order to achieve the best service possible and attract users.
Workers: Their incentive is to gain as much money as possible for their work. To maximize their gain, they should maximize their contribution. Contribution can be obtained by having a good history (reputation) and/or by committing more funds when submitting a contribution. Giving bad results would make them lose both funds and reputation, which they should avoid at all cost.
a. New actors, with no history, start with a low reputation, meaning they will weigh less in the vote. Their chance to overtake a vote against trusted workers is small, and it would be a waste of fund from an attacker.
b. An old actor with a good history can win a lot by using their reputation to perform computations. As they are trusted, fewer contributions are needed to settle a vote and the reward kitty is therefore shared among fewer agents. On the other hand, by submitting bad results they risk losing all their reputation (and the money they committed with the contribution). Reputation does not guarantee them to win votes and spot-checking can help to detect bad contributors with high reputation.
Scheduler: Their incentive is to gain money by helping coordinate the platform. They make money through:
a. Commissions on all transactions;
b. Unclaimed rewards: if a worker doesn’t claim the reward after a contribution the corresponding fund would be kept by the scheduler.

In order to make money, the scheduler requires users to submit jobs and workers to register in its worker pool. This gives him the incentive to manage the worker pool correctly and grow strong.
Public schedulers for a fully decentralized platform

One of the key elements that could ultimately help a scheduler getting bigger and attracting more workers and users is to be open about its decisions. We believe that a scheduler could rely on a blockchain mechanism to orchestrate the protocol described above. In fact, this protocol is designed so that every message can, and should, be public. Security is achieved using cryptography. In particular, the use of a blockchain solves the issue of proving a contribution existence (presence on the blockchain) and validity (precedence to the vote results).

The main issue that still has to be solved is the worker designations. At step 3, the scheduler submits the task to specific workers. This is important for two reasons:

We don’t want workers to race. This would favor fast nodes and one could attack the voting system by coordinating many fast nodes to take over the vote before other nodes can contribute.

We don’t want malicious nodes to take over some votes. By randomly assigning workers to jobs we distribute malicious nodes amongst many votes where they would not be able to take over and where their best play is to provide good results and benefit from the platform working correctly.

Such a mechanism requires a source of randomness which any observers of the blockchain can agree on. This problem is beyond the scope of this post. Having such a source of entropy could help the scheduler designate workers using a random yet verifiable algorithm. The data required for verification would be public. The only change required to the protocol would be that a valid contribution from a worker would require a proof that the worker was designated by a scheduler.

Blockchains versus Traditional Databases (Hackernoon.com)

HN: Shaan Ray
Feb 10
Blockchains versus Traditional Databases
https://towardsdatascience.com/blockchains-versus-traditional-databases-e496d8584dc

To understand the difference between a blockchain and a traditional database, it is worth considering how each of these is designed and maintained.
Distributed nodes on a blockchain.

Traditional Databases

Traditional databases use client-server network architecture.

MD: There is no such thing as a traditional database. Databases existed way before there was a client-server orientation. But we’ll assume your client-server model for purposes of this critique.

HN: Here, a user (known as a client) can modify data, which is stored on a centralized server. Control of the database remains with a designated authority, which authenticates a client’s credentials before providing access to the database.

MD: Do you think the DNS (Domain Name Service) databases fit this model?

HN: Since this authority is responsible for administration of the database, if the security of the authority is compromised, the data can be altered, or even deleted.

MD: Can we replace “authority” with “protocol” or “process” and still assume we are talking about the same thing?

HN: Traditional Databases.

Blockchain Databases

Blockchain databases consist of several decentralized nodes. Each node participates in administration: all nodes verify new additions to the blockchain, and are capable of entering new data into the database. For an addition to be made to the blockchain, the majority of nodes must reach consensus. This consensus mechanism guarantees the security of the network, making it difficult to tamper with.

MD: Don’t “shared” and “distributed” databases have this trait? If not, how can they possibly work? How about “journaled” databases?

HN: In Bitcoin, consensus is reached by mining (solving complex hashing puzzles), while Ethereum seeks to use proof of stake as its consensus mechanism. To learn more about the difference between these two consensus mechanisms, read my earlier post.

MD: See: https://moneydelusions.com/wp/2018/02/13/what-is-proof-of-stake/

HN: Integrity and Transparency

A key property of blockchain technology, which distinguishes it from traditional database technology, is public verifiability, which is enabled by integrity and transparency.

MD: Actually “public” is a relative term. Corporations have databases that do this without blockchain technology for their own “public” that can be very large and use very distributed database technologies. And airline reservations do this through federation with franchised travel agents … all without blockchain.

HN: Integrity: every user can be sure that the data they are retrieving is uncorrupted and unaltered since the moment it was recorded

MD: Only if they are believers. The only users with anything close to such an assurance are the “developers” who supposedly know “all” the complicated mechanism involved. A distributed public transparent data organization, where “anyone” can see everything gives better assurance. This is the mechanism favored by a “proper” MOE process.

HN: Transparency: every user can verify how the blockchain has been appended over time

MD: By using “trusted” API’s. There’s no way they can know the API’s they’re using should be trusted. They’re too complicated … and they’re not open.

HN: A map of Dashcoin masternodes distributed across the world.

CRUD vs Read & Write Operations

In a traditional database, a client can perform four functions on data: Create, Read, Update, and Delete (collectively known as the CRUD commands).

MD: And if the database is distributed and journaled they can do this without the “delete” and “update” … a necessary requirement for “true” transparency.

HN: The blockchain is designed to be an append only structure. A user can only add more data, in the form of additional blocks.

MD: And this causes unnecessary and undesirable latency (which is killing Bitcoin right now). Ideally, every transaction journaled into the database is “related” by hash to every other “related” transaction. What is needed is a hash linking the journal entries … and that is very easy to provide by including an input and output hash into the hashing process itself. Most transactions in a so-called blockchain block have no relevance to each other. It makes more sense to keep “related” transaction chains together rather than “all” transaction chains. This reduces latency and synchronization problems enormously.

HN: All previous data is permanently stored and cannot be altered. Therefore, the only operations associated with blockchains are:
Read Operations: these query and retrieve data from the blockchain
Write Operations: these add more data onto the blockchain

MD: Which I have described above is not “novel” at all. We have had it with journaled distributed databases for a very long time now. We have many of the mechanisms in the various forms of RAID (Random Array of Inexpensive Drives).

HN: Validating and Writing

The blockchain allows for two functions: validation of a transaction, and writing of a new transaction. A transaction is an operation that changes the state of data that lives on the blockchain. While past entries on the blockchain must always remain the same, a new entry can change the state of the data in the past entries.

MD: This is deceptive. The data in past entries never changes. The state of the current data changes by adding transactions to previous states. And you can mitigate corruption of this process with an input and output hash linking them and included in the hash of the new transactions. No block is required. Just a journal entry with two hashes … an input hash and an output hash which includes the input hash. The input hash can be verified back in time as far as the user chooses to do so … and all users my choose to do so any time they want to prove the process integrity.

HN: For example, if the blockchain has recorded that my Bitcoin wallet has 1 million BTC, that figure is permanently stored in the blockchain.

MD: A “real” money process has no such thing as a “bitcoin” wallet. It only has to prove that something claiming to be a bitcoin is not a counterfeit. A huge flaw in the bitcoin process is the fractioning of bitcoins. This is not different in end result than the fractioning of Indian (native American) lands … where they have been fractioned so many times the parcels are too small to be of use and they cannot be practically re-aggregated.

HN: When I spend 200,000 BTC, that transaction is recorded onto the blockchain, bringing my balance to 800,000 BTC.

MD: A “real” and “proper” process cares nothing about the money once it is created by traders. It only cares that it cannot be counterfeited and that the promise creating it is delivered as promised. No money is in circulation without a relation (albeit not direct) to a trader’s “in-process” promise. For any given creation, money does not exist before the promise, nor after the promise is fulfilled. In the mean time it is the most common object in every simple barter exchange … because it works. And it works because it never changes value over time an space. The “process” or “protocol” guarantees it and cannot be manipulated.

HN: However, since the blockchain can only be appended, my pre-transaction balance of 1 million BTC also remains on the blockchain permanently, for those who care to look. This is why the blockchain is often referred to as an immutable and distributed ledger.

MD: With a “real” process, the money “used” by traders is totally anonymous and unaudited. It is usually just a ledger entry in a “trusted” account … trusted by the traders using it. It may temporarily be in use as a coin or currency and returned to a ledger entry. The coin and currency are just uncounterfeitable tokens that when converted to a ledger entry are placed in storage and have no value at all. “Creation” and “destruction” and “default” and “interest” collection are a different matter (than “usage”) entirely. The traders are known and singular. They aren’t groups. They aren’t aliases. Their locations are known and they can be visited. That’s what keeps the process honest and leads other traders to “use” the money. As an example, we all “create” money when we buy a house on time. The documents recording our “promise” are recorded by the county clerk and available for all to see. We know how to do this. We also know how to streamline it (by using things like credit bureaus and title companies). As we pay back our “mortgage” we return money and it is destroyed. We don’t return the same money we created … that’s just not necessary nor can it work in practice.

HN: Centralized vs. peer to peer.

In short, the difference is Decentralized Control

Decentralized control eliminates the risks of centralized control. Anybody with sufficient access to a centralized database can destroy or corrupt the data within it. Users are therefore reliant on the security infrastructure of the database administrator.

MD: And as I have illustrated, that is not the difference, because a distributed journaled database of any kind “must” have decentralized control. What is central and known is the “process” or “protocol”.

HN: Blockchain technology uses decentralized data storage to sidestep this issue, thereby building security into its very structure.

MD: The blockchain has nothing to do with centralization or decentralization. It has everything to do with mitigating “forging” and “counterfeiting” and it does it unnecessarily inefficiently, expensively, slowly, and in an unnecessarily complicated fashion.

HN: Though blockchain technology is well-suited to record certain kinds of information, traditional databases are better suited for other kinds of information. It is crucial for every organization to understand what it wants from a database, and gauge this against the strengths and vulnerabilities of each kind of database, before selecting one.

MD: A journaled database can just manage documents or links … or links to links … or links to links to links. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is transparency of what it is managing and who is interacting with it. That’s what journaling does.

Can Central Banks Keep Control of Interest Rates?

MD: I haven’t posted for some time but this article was too pertinent, silly, and misguided to pass up (revealing total cluelessness … and/or corruption … of our current Medium of Exchange (MOE) process.) The article is from the great see-er of all things money oriented … the Wall Street Journal. This is the link to the article which is likely to go away in a short period of time.

Can Central Banks Keep Control of Interest Rates?

 

MD: As usual, the title itself exposes the total lack of understanding of what money is. As anyone knows who has been paying attention here, interest rates are “not” controlled by anyone or anything in a “proper” MOE process. INTEREST collections are perpetually and immediately made to meet DEFAULTs experienced … and if that is under anyone’s control, it is the trader defaulting.

Inflation-adjusted—or ‘real’—rates remain low, lending support to booming , prices for stocks, property and other assets. But some worry that could vanish sooner than markets realize

MD: Actually, what we’re seeing here is the banks farming operation in action. They’ve loaded up the wagon with energized traders’ expectations and resulting risk taking behavior, and they will soon pull the rug out from under them.

By Jon Sindreu
Dec. 26, 2017 7:47 a.m. ET

Investors are elated by a booming global economy and the promise of central banks to tighten monetary policy only gradually. But a question haunts them: Will interest rates develop a mind of their own?

MD: “Will interest rates develop a mind of their own?” Can a stupider question be posed? Interest “rates” are a function of two things. In the numerator, they are a function of continuously accumulated DEFAULT experience. In the denominator they are a function of what someone chooses that denominator to be.  In a “proper” MOE process, the denominator would be related to cumulative defaults for each money-creating class, according to their actuarial propensity to DEFAULT.

While central banks set short-term rates—the 1.5% rate that the Federal Reserve publishes on its website—economists disagree about how much control they have over long-term borrowing costs. These are gauged by government-bond yields, especially those with returns tied to inflation.

MD: These so-called short-term rates are arbitrarily set by our current system. In general, they are about what their target rate of INFLATION is. They target 2%, have historically delivered 4%, while the proper value of inflation is 0%.

Low inflation-indexed—or “real”—rates push money into risky assets, because investors get little extra purchasing power for holding safer securities. According to a new report by BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest asset manager, subdued real rates have been 2017’s main driver of returns in global infrastructure debt and investment-grade corporate debt. They also boost gold and real estate, analysts say, which don’t pay coupons but don’t lose value when inflation rises.

MD: “Subdued real rates?” What more direct evidence could their be of the banks farming operation? Do these so-called “asset managers” just accept this? Or are they actually part of the farming operation themselves?  “Main driver of returns?” In a “proper” money process, supply/demand ratios for each product and service are the main … and only real … driver of returns. If the ratio is high, the return will be low and vice-versa. Money has nothing to do with it because its perpetual supply/demand ratio is 1.000.

Many markets could climb off record highs if real rates rise. But it is hard to forecast, said Kevin Gardiner, global investment strategist at Rothschild Wealth Management, because “nobody knows exactly what sets interest rates.”

MD: “Climb off?” … don’t they mean “fall off?”.  Interest rates in the current process only benefit the money changers. With their special privilege, a 1% increase in interest rates yields them a 10% increase in return. In a proper process with perpetual 0% inflation, their privilege becomes no privilege at all … ten times zero is zero (10x 0.0000 = 0.0000)

Real rates have often moved in lockstep with central-bank policy—but not always. In the 1970s, runaway inflation pushed real rates down even as the Fed and other central banks increased nominal rates.

MD: With a “proper” process, the only “policy” is that DEFAULTs are immediately met with INTEREST collections of equal amount. That policy never ever changes. A “proper” process cannot be farmed.

Yields on 10-year inflation-linked Treasurys are currently below 0.5%. Before the 2008 financial crisis, they hovered at around 2%. After the Fed unleashed unseen amounts of monetary stimulus, they hit a record-low of minus 0.87% in 2013. Many analysts and investors see it as a sign that policy makers have strong control over real rates.

MD: With a “proper” process there is no such thing as “monetary stimulus”. Money is in perpetual free supply. That supply is perpetually identical to demand for the money yielding perpetual zero inflation.

“We are overweight global indexed bonds,” said Paul Rayner, head of government bonds at Royal London Asset Management. “We’ve done a lot of analysis on this, and ultimately the biggest driver of government bond yields still remains central bank activity, even for [inflation-linked bonds].”

MD: With a proper MOE process, Rayner is out of work. There is no “lot of analysis” to be done. Their worshiped relation  ((1+”i”)^”n”) … they call it the time value of money … is neutered when “i” is perpetually zero.

With a “proper” MOE process, there are no “government bonds”. Governments are simply no different than any other trader. If they are responsible, they create money without any interest load. If they are deadbeats, they pay interest accordingly. And since governments “never” return the money they create (they just roll their trading promises over … which is default), the interest paid by them perpetually equals the money they wish to create. In other words, they “can’t” create money.

But classic economic theory says that central banks can only influence rates at first, as people ultimately see through their meddling. So unless officials set policy to reflect the economy’s long-term economic trends—which is how the Fed’s Janet Yellen and Mark Carney at the Bank of England have justified keeping rates low in recent years—inflation or deflation will follow.

MD: “Classic economic theory?” You mean “classic economic stupidity!” don’t you? People never see through banks meddling. It is the farming operation and it has worked as long as the governments they institute protect the operation. Again, this is an open realization that banks have an enormously profitable farming operation. A competing “proper” MOE process would make that farming operation experience perpetual crop failure and/or market opposition.

According to this view, rates are so low because people are saving a lot and these saved funds can be lent out and used to invest, a copious supply that pulls down the cost of borrowing.

MD: Stupid is as stupid does … or as stupid has been duped to think. In our current process there is the illusion that savings play a role. And the 10x leverage privilege retail banks enjoy is directly affected by that. But in the final analysis, it is the Rothschilds that control everything through their control of all but two central banks in the entire world … and of the Bank of International Settlements. They do whatever they please. With a competing process they would be out of business almost instantaneously, never to raise their ugly head and influence again … ever!

Some money managers and analysts now warn that the tide is about to shift, whether central banks keep policy easy or not. By looking at the share of the population aged between 35 and 64—when people save the most—research firm Gavekal predicts real rates will soon rise as people retire and spend their life savings, eroding gains in stock markets.

MD: Boy … this guy is deluded beyond repair I think. The Rothschilds are in total control. The theoretical mechanisms the writer thinks are at work have been propagandized into his head. Yes, a degree in economics is just buying self imposed propaganda. With a proper MOE process, there are no economics … just trading decisions made on a perfectly static level playing field … i.e. buying and selling and producing decisions.

It “could happen tomorrow or 10 years from now, but I’m not counting on the latter,” said Gavekal analyst Will Denyer.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management argues that aging is already starting to push rates higher, meaning that 10-year real yields will be 0.75 percentage point higher over the next 10 years.

Other investors have a different worry: They fear that yields will stay low even if central banks try to tighten policy because they are concerned a recession may be coming. This year, the Fed has nudged up rates three times and yields on long-term government bonds—both nominal and inflation-linked debt—have stayed unchanged or declined, echoing similar issues that then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had in 2005.

MD: Translation: “a recession may be coming” means “harvest time may be coming”. It’s pretty easy to see when it’s time to harvest. You look at how ripe the crop is … i.e. how thoroughly the traders have been sucked in. The farming analogy is near perfect.

Indeed, the yield curve—the yield gap between short and long-term Treasurys—is now at its flattest since 2007, and many investors underscore that, in the past, this has often preceded an economic slowdown in the U.S.

“Unless the evidence is very compelling that’s a false signal, I think the market’s going to be nervous,” said David Riley, head of credit strategy at BlueBay Asset Management, who is now investing more cautiously.

MD: Booga booga … buy gold advises the great see-er.

Still, investors may read too much into what yields say about the economy, said the Bank for International Settlements, a consortium of central banks. In new research looking at 18 countries since 1870, the BIS found no clear link between rates and factors like demographics and productivity—it is mostly central-bank policy that matters.

MD: “A consortium of central banks?”…  Rothschield’s holding company you mean?

Does this mean investors can rest easy because rates won’t creep up on them? Not so fast, said Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the BIS, because officials may still raise them to contain market optimism. Central banks in Canada, Sweden, Norway and Thailand are thinking along these lines, analysts said.

MD: “Not so fast” says Rothschild’s weather man. We can do anything to the crop we choose to do … when we choose to do it.

If central banks control real rates, then it is inflation that has a life of its own—it isn’t just a reaction to officials deviating from economic trends—and it could explain why central bankers have failed to stoke it for years. So officials might as well raise rates to quash bubbles instead of “fine-tuning inflation so much,” Mr. Borio said.

MD: Anyone who has followed MoneyDelusions analysis of these ridiculous articles has to be holding their sides in pain from laughing too hard.

Still, Isabelle Mateos y Lago, global macro strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute, thinks investors don’t have to worry about this yet.

“The conversation is moving this way, but I don’t think central bankers have a fully articulated view,” she said.

MD: “Central banks don’t have a fully articulated view?” Dream on. They do control the weather of this farming operation you know. And they control the farmers ability to buy seed and tractors and land. But having dropped the obligatory number of names, the write concludes his nonsense for now.

Write to Jon Sindreu at jon.sindreu@wsj.com
Most Popular Videos

MD: Please do write Jon as he begs … and send him a link to this exposure of his Money Delusion.

Dollar Cost Averaging (Quora question)

“How can I evaluate returns from a dollar cost averaging (automatic investment) into a leveraged fund (e.g. SSO) over a longer term (10+yrs)?”

(Link to Quora question and answer)

Early in my career I wrote an application for “financial criminals” to move people away from “whole life” insurance to “term” insurance, and investing the premium saved by dollar-cost-averaging into their mutual fund. The “illustrations” I produced for them were dramatic. Basically, the “investment income” goes to you and the mutual fund managers and not to the insurance company.

Well, to do this, the “law” demanded lots of small print. But it also demanded I show the cash flows precisely as if they were done into the mutual fund historically. That meant going back the 30 years (the planning window) and saying “if the next 30 years are exactly the same, this is where you would be”.

But it was really pitching “if you’d done this 30 years ago with our mutual fund, this is where you’d be” … and it was dramatically better than what the whole life scenario delivered (unless you used a poorly performing mutual fund … or had zero inflation).

This was 30+ years ago. Back then you had “whole life” insurance salesmen … with a comfortable annual commission stream. It tipped their cart. These insurance salesmen now call themselves “financial analysts”. Follow the money.

None of this would work if we had a “proper” Medium of Exchange (MOE) process … that “guaranteed” zero inflation … all the time and everywhere. If we had that, you could put your surplus money under a rock and do better than either alternative.

Leveraging doesn’t work with zero inflation (i.e. (1+i)^n is always “1.000” for all “n” when “i” is perpetually zero). So don’t expect a “proper” MOE process to be adopted any time soon. It puts the money changers and the governments they institute out of business.

(see http://MoneyDelusions.com (http://MoneyDelusions.com))

Todd Marshall
Plantersville, TX

FT: The virtual currency boom echoes dotcom fever

The virtual currency boom echoes dotcom fever

MD: Remembering what money really is … “an in-process promise to complete a trade over time and space” … that it is only created by traders … and that for any given trading promise, it only exists for the duration of that promise … and that during that interim time, there is perpetual perfect supply/demand (i.e. zero inflation) of that money created … knowing all that, look how silly such articles like this become.

by Izabella Kaminska

In 1999, the actor Whoopi Goldberg made a bold decision. Rather than be paid for an endorsement for a dotcom start-up, she took a 10 per cent stake in the business. It seemed wise. At the time, everyone was investing in internet businesses and a rush of initial public offerings was making early investors into millionaires. I was reminded of this amid a flurry of news about the new boom in cryptocurrencies — and their celebrity backers. Ms Goldberg’s venture, Flooz, was billed as the future of money in a digital world and it hoped one day to rival the dollar.

MD: Let’s see if there is evidence that they had any clue about what money is before starting this venture. Nope!

The way it worked, however, was much less revolutionary. The service resembled a gift certificate: customers paid in dollars and received Flooz balances. These could be redeemed at participating merchants, with the hope that credits would one day circulate as money in their own right.

MD: What’s the point? How were they supposed to work without dollars kicking them off in the first place? When they replaced the dollar, what was going to create them?

The problem for Flooz was that little prevented mass replication of its model. One prominent competitor, Beenz, differed only slightly, by allowing its units to trade at fluctuating market prices.

MD: A “proper” MOE process can have no competitors. A competitor either does the exact same thing as this proper MOE process, or it isn’t competitive. And since there is no money to be made in the process (contrasted to the similar casualty insurance process where money is made on investment income), it’s not going to attract many competitors. It would be the trading commons themselves who would steward the process. We have experience with this. The internet is just such a process example … a technology commons.

Like banking syndicates before them, the ventures decided to club together for mutual benefit by accepting each other’s currencies in their networks. Even so, by 2001 both companies had failed, brought down by a lack of the one ingredient that counts most in finance: trust. Flooz was knocked by security concerns after it transpired that a Russian crime syndicate had taken advantage of its currency, while the fluctuating value of Beenz soon put users off.

MD: Fluctuating value turning users off is a good sign. Users aren’t as clueless as these entrepreneurs.

Their loss turned into PayPal’s gain, the latter succeeding precisely because it had set its aspirations much lower. Rather than replace established currencies, PayPal focused on improving the dollar’s online mobility, notably by creating a secure network that gained public support. This, it turned out, is what people really wanted.

MD: And PayPal missed the real opportunity by not following up. If they had gone ahead and implemented micro-transactions, I would be paying a tiny (what 1 cent; 5 cents?) price for reading this article. That day has to come. Supporting the likes of FT with advertising and subscriptions is just plain nonsense.

Did we learn anything from the failures of the internet boom? Apparently not. In what is looking increasingly like a new incarnation of dotcom fever, celebrities are endorsing virtual currency systems. Heiress and reality TV star Paris Hilton tweeted this week that she would be backing fundraising for LydianCoin, a digital token still at concept stage. It offers redemption against online artificial intelligence-assisted advertising campaigns.

MD: Advertising campaigns “are” artificial intelligence. We know it as propaganda. It’s annoying … and really dangerous when it reaches the minds of the stupid.

Baroness Michelle Mone, a businesswoman, announced she would be accepting bitcoin in exchange for luxury Dubai flats. What is particularly striking about this path to riches is its “growing money on trees” character.

MD: What is “particularly striking” is that someone would part with their bitcoins for one of her flats … knowing the extraordinary deflationary nature of bitcoins.

While the internet boom was dominated by IPOs, linked to a potentially profitable venture to come, this time it is “initial coin offerings” igniting investor fervour. Most ICOs do not aspire to deliver profits or returns. Indeed, from a regulatory standpoint, they cannot — most lawyers agree doing so could classify them as securities, drawing regulatory intervention which would force them into stringent listing processes.

MD: If they knew what real money was, they would know that every trader (like you and me contracting for a house or car with monthly payments) is making an ICO. What in the world is it going to take to get these brilliant idiots to recognize and understand the obvious?

That opinion was substantiated in July when the US Securities and Exchange Commission warned: “Virtual coins or tokens may be securities and subject to the federal securities laws” and that “it is relatively easy for anyone to use blockchain technology to create an ICO that looks impressive, even though it might actually be a scam.”

MD: Now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black. The SEC is itself a scam.

So most ICOs make do by selling tokens for pre-existing virtual currencies for promises of direct redemption against online goods, services or concepts, or simply in the hope the tokens themselves will rocket in value despite offering nothing specific in return.

MD: Stupid is as stupid does. If you know that zero inflation is the right number for any money you don’t go looking for “rocketing” value. An ideal unit for money is the HUL (Hour of Unskilled Labor). We were all a HUL doing summer jobs in high-school so we can relate to them any time in our lives … and to any trade we make. The HUL itself has not changed over all time. It trades for the same size hole in the ground. With median income now at about $50,000 per year, the median person is able to trade his skilled hours for about 3.5 HULs these days.

They still think they can succeed where other parallel currency systems have failed, by bolting into pre- established blockchain-distributed currency systems such as Ethereum or bitcoin.

MD: A proper MOE process is totally transparent when it comes to the money creation/destruction parts of the process. Block-chain techniques (i.e. universally accessible ledger) would be helpful to enhance that transparency. But there would be no mining involved. New blocks would have to be created at any time at zero cost.

These already come with a network of token-owning users. But with the numbers of conventional merchants that will accept these currencies falling rather than rising, these holders need something more compelling to spend their digital wealth on. As it stands, the real economy can only be accessed by cashing out digital currency for conventional money at cryptocurrency exchanges. This comes at some expense.

MD: So far, the expense is insignificant … because of the enormous “guaranteed” continual deflation of the cryptocurrency itself (their ridiculous mining process). It’s kind of like the reverse of our government run lotteries. With government lotteries, you are guaranteed to lose (except for the minuscule chance you win). With cryptocurrency, you are guaranteed to win (until everyone loses as what is essentially a Ponzi scheme … with no Ponzi … comes down).

But with regulators clamping down on how exchanges are governed, token holders who cannot or do not want to pass through know-your-customer and anti-money laundering procedures remain frozen out.

MD: What’s disconcerting is the knowledge that if we instituted a “proper” MOE process, the regulators would clamp down on it too. It would make their current counterfeiting impossible … and it would make it impossible for money changers to demand tribute. That would just not stand. Regulators and governments everywhere are a major part of our problem.

That leaves their holdings good for only three things: virtual currency speculation, which is ultimately a zero-sum game; redemption against dark-market goods or capital control circumvention. It is assumed ICOs offering real goods, services or real estate in exchange for cryptocurrencies can somehow tap into this sizeable, albeit potentially illicit and restricted, wealth pool.

MD: Real estate wants positive inflation. Money changers in real estate do not want real money (there’s no leverage in it … time value of real money is guaranteed to be perpetually 1.0000) … and for sure they don’t want money that is guaranteed deflationary.

Yet if competing unregulated economies really start gaining traction, governments will act. China’s central bank has already branded ICOs an illegal form of crowdfunding and more rulings are expected from other jurisdictions in coming weeks.

Then again, if history teaches us anything, the system’s own propensity to cultivate fraud and unnecessary complexity in the face of more secure and regulated competition may be the more likely thing to bring it down.

MD: Actually, if you crowd the money changers existing con … “they” are likely to bring it down. “Real” money crowds money changers out of existence. That will not stand. Too bad for us traders and producers in society.

When given the choice, people usually opt for security.

MD: Which of course we don’t have … if you call government taking 3/4ths of everything we make …. you can’t call that security. I call it slavery. If you call money changers taking “all” taxes we pay as tribute … leaving governments (which the money changers instituted to protect their con) to sustain themselves by counterfeiting … I call that criminal.

izabella.kaminska@ft.com Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

MD: I am openly violating this request. My comments are far more valuable than anything to be learned in this article. And the fairest way to make my comments is to intersperse them in the disinformation that these articles present.

Cafe Hayek: insurance against exploitation,

MD: I wonder if Boudreaux and Buchanan have read the Anti-Federalist Papers.  Let’s see if they have clue.

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 28, 2017

in Myths and Fallacies, Virginia Political Economy

… is from pages 171-172 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague Jim Buchanan‘s 1987 paper “Man and the State,” as this paper is reprinted in James M. Buchanan, Federalism, Liberty, and Law (2001), which is volume 18 of the Collected Works of James M. Buchanan:

The monumental folly of the past two centuries has been the presumption that so long as the state operates in accordance with democratic procedures (free and periodic elections; open franchise; open entry for parties, candidates, and interests; majority or plurality voting rules) the individual does, indeed, have quite apart from any viable exit option.  

MD: That is a badly constructed … long sentence. It ends “individual does have”. Does have “what”?  And then adds “quite apart from any viable exit option” has nothing to refer to. If it means the individual has a viable exit option to leave the government, he certainly doesn’t. Neither does a state. The Constitution is obviously flawed with its failure to include a buy/sell clause.

Modern states have been allowed to invade increasing areas of “private space” under the pretense of democratic process.

MD: We here at MD of course know that democracy … and thus the democratic process … has no chance of working with more than 50 people involved. And our USA process has 500,000 people involved at our “most” representative level.

From Anti-Federalist Papers #17: Federalist Power Will Ultimately Subvert State Authority:

DBx: People whose understanding of democracy is no more advanced than what they learned in fifth grade believe that the democratic procedures listed above by Buchanan are both necessary and sufficient to ensure a free, open, vibrant, and prosperous society.  And when such people – people such as Duke historian Nancy MacLean – encounter serious discussions of the need for constraints on majoritarian rule, these people leap to the conclusion that those who counsel such restraints are undemocratic enemies of the People.  Whatever you think of democracy, such leaping is a sign of terrific ignorance of both intellectual and political history.  And yet displays today of such ignorance are unthinkingly celebrated in “Progressive” circles as signs of deep wisdom and moral superiority.

MD: Boy is this the pot calling the kettle black. DBx seems to be clueless about democracy too. Earth to DBx! Democracy can’t work with more than 50 people involved!

For democracy to work, the voters must be intimately familiar with the issues on which they are voting. For democracy to function in a republic, those choosing the representative for the next lower level must personally know the person they choose … and that person must personally know them to represent them (the individual being at the top level and himself dealing himself with all issues under his control … like his own welfare) .

Cafe Hayek: Prosecuting price gougers

MD: Every once in a while, even the Mises Monks get it right.

 

Mr. Ken Paxton, Attorney General
State of Texas
Austin, TX

Mr. Paxton:

You boasted today on Fox News that your office, in the wake of hurricane Harvey, will prosecute so-called “price gougers” – that is, merchants who charge prices deemed to be too high by Texas politicians.  I urge you to quit your witch hunt.

MD: Hear hear!!

Because each ‘gouging’ price paid for any item is paid voluntarily by a consumer spending his or her own money – and because that consumer cannot conveniently find that item elsewhere at a lower price – the consumer clearly doesn’t deem the price to be too high.  That is, while the consumer would, as always, prefer to pay a lower than a higher price, the consumer prefers to pay the high price and actually get the item than to save money by going without the item.  Formal legalities asides, why should the judgment of politicians about what prices in the aftermath of natural disasters ‘should’ be override the judgments of on-the-spot consumers about the appropriateness of prices?

Government intervention is often justified as a means of correcting “market failure.”

MD: Government itself is a “sanity” failure. No government at any level, even at the bottom (the individual being at the top) should do anything the level above it cannot do itself. Big government is for wide cooperation … not wide control. The individual clearly is able to make their own decision here … and implement it.

But by enforcing prohibitions on “price gouging” your office causes market failure.  Penalizing merchants who raise the prices of goods and services prevents markets from truthfully conveying an unfortunate but undeniable truth – namely, the natural disaster caused available supplies of goods and services to fall significantly relative to the demand for those goods and services.  By forcibly keeping ‘legal’ prices lower than their actual market values, you not only encourage black markets and other corrupt and corrupting processes, you obstruct the information and incentives that are necessary both to encourage consumers to now use those goods and services more sparingly, and to encourage suppliers from around the world to rush to the devastated areas additional supplies of those goods and services.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

MD: Congratulations Cafe Hayek. Even the blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut.

Wikipedia: Nash – Ideal Money

 MD: It has been suggested that we at MD study Nash’s “ideal money” as an assignment (presumably to see it disproves our case) … by someone who won’t admit what we describe here is indisputable … or even give evidence they have even read the less than 500 words that present the principles of “real” money. As usual the assignment comes from those who resort to just handing out reading assignments … rather than reading our simple 500 words. This one is of particular interest because it claims “ideal money”. The “proper” MOE process described here at MD maintains the only “real” money imaginable … so it “has” to be as ideal as anything out there or proposed to be out there:
  • It is in perpetual free supply;
  • it maintains perpetual perfect supply demand balance of the money itself (zero inflation);
  • it imposes no restraint nor interest load on responsible traders;
  • it is fair in imposing interest loads on irresponsible traders commensurate with their propensity to default;
  • it maintains perpetual perfect transparency of the creation and destruction of the money process itself;
  • it requires no resources (reserves) at all;
  • the cost of its operation is negligable;
  • it is measured using an unvarying scale (the HUL);
  • there is not money to made in operating it (as there is in insurance … i.e. investment income)
  • and its behavior is totally objective and the results easily provable;
There is “nothing” more ideal … so this should be interesting. Nash looks like an egghead … I presume he will think like one too. Expect lots of footnotes.

Ideal money

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Ideal money is a theoretical notion promulgated by John Nash (Nobel Laureate in Economics), to stabilize international currencies. It is a solution to the Triffin dilemma which is generally about the conflict of economic interests between the short-term domestic and long-term international objectives when a currency used in a country is also a world reserve currency in the meantime.

MD: “To stabilize international currencies”? Tilt!!! Real money is an inherently and perfectly stable process. It has the automatic negative feedback mechanism of immediately mopping up defaults with interest collections of like amount. Now, with a statement like that first thing out of the chute, we here at MD know its silly to read further. But we’ve been given the assignment. We trudge on.

“Triffin dilemma”? Conflict of economic interests? A “proper” MOE process has no sensitivities to such things at all. There is no difference between short term and long term. The time value of money is provably 1.0000. When a proper MOE process exists anywhere, there is no such thing as a world reserve currency. “All” monies either come from a proper process or they are competed out of existence in an instant. Thus all moneys exchange at a constant rate … 1.000 if denominated in HULs (Hours of Unskilled Labor). And no “real” money requires “reserves” of any kind whatever!

Contents

Introduction

How does the idea of Ideal Money appear

“Money can be recognized as a technological development comparable to the wheel and of similar antiquity. Among the more recent developments in the technology that facilitates transfers of utility (in the sense of game theory) are systems like those of EZ Pass, by means of which vehicles traversing toll bridges or toll highways can pay their toll fees without stopping for the attention of human personnel manning the toll booths. In this lecture, I present remarks about the history of monetary systems and about issues of comparative quality or merit , along with a specific proposal about how a system or systems of ‘ideal money’might be established and employed.”[1]

MD: He describes a transfer system. The real money process is insensitive to the myriad of transfer systems employed in the money’s circulation. The process itself is only interested in its media’s creation and destruction and prevention of “all” leaks. He talks of a technological development. Exotic transfer systems are not it. There is nothing technical in addition and subtraction. That’s just simple accounting. I’m going to ignore all his noise about history. I’m just going to look for his solution to all the historical failings. We here at MD already know the best … and yet untried solution.

Main value standard of ideal money

Ideal money is working in the theory similar to the gold standard, but it is generally based on a Nonpolitical Value Standard. “A possible nonpolitical basis for a value standard that could be used for money would be a good industrial consumption price index(ICPI) statistic. This statistic could be calculated from the international price of commodities such as copper, silver, tungsten, and so forth that are used in industrial activities.”[1] John Nash said in his lecture.

MD: Tilt!!!   All money is a perception held by two traders at an instant in time. One has money. The other has an object they will trade for money. In the negotiation step (1) of a trade, they decide how much money is involved. In all our illustrations our money will be measured in units of HULs (Hours of Unskilled Labor). A HUL has traded for the same size hole in the ground for all time … and is expected to do so in all future time. There is no “standard” … .political or otherwise. If the trade is made using existing money, the trade is complete  for both traders. Promise to deliver (2) and Delivery (3) happen simultaneously on-the-spot. That trade is done. It has no impact on any other trade in the entire trading environment. It is just between those two traders. While the trade “uses” money, it doesn’t “create” money.

Money is “created” when one trader promises to do the trade over time and space. And we have all done that. We have bought a house, a car, a washing machine, or a steak dinner by creating money and then returning it a little bit at a time. Our trading promise is certified, the person with the house, the car, the washing machine, or the steak gets money (which we created on the spot). We then go about working to return that money and destroy it as we promised to do. If we are responsible traders (i.e. we don’t default), we pay no interest. If we have a propensity to default, we pay interest actuarially based on that weakness.

So Nash need not make this more complicated than it has to be. We can ignore references to anything “political” for example.

Why gold can not be an ideal money

MD: Not only can gold not be “ideal” money. It can’t be money at all. Anyone holding gold is doing just that … holding gold. They’re no more holding money than someone holding a ribeye steak.

The gold does not reach the standard of ideal money, despite its merits. The main problem is because the silver and gold do not have a constant value all the time.

MD: One gold star for Nash. Real money guarantees perpetual perfect balance between supply and demand for the money itself.

“To the undiscerning minds of the mass of men a pound sterling of gold, a silver five-franc piece, or a paper dollar, represents always a definite unit.

MD: So does a pound of ribeye steak. The pound is the unit … what it is a pound of can play no role at all. We choose the HUL as the best candidate for unit. It is related to time, which is unvarying, and what can be delivered in that time … which is relatively unvarying. Who knows how big a hole an ounce of gold traded for 100 years ago? Most don’t even know what it trades for today. But everyone can put a spade in their hand and in one hour make a hole that is one HUL in size. And they can know that their hole, for all intents and purposes, is the same size hole a HUL would have produced 100 or 5,000 years ago. We don’t need to search the Dead Sea Scrolls for proof.

It has not escaped attention, however, that a given amount of money buys much less at one time than another.”[2]

MD: May have to take back Nash’s gold star. A given amount of “real” money will always trade for the same size hole in the ground … always! It may trade for a different size car or different size ribeye steak or a different number of gold ounces … but that’s because of the supply/demand relation of those things themselves. The supply/demand for the money itself is perpetually perfect and plays no role whatever in the pricing.

in other words, people are used to measuring the value of goods by money, but due to some reasons the value of money itself changes, which causes the value of silver or gold changes. We can’t tell the constant value of the metal, and the fixed mind-sets can not easily be changed.

MD: What he says is only true of an “improper” MOE process like that run by the Fed and every other central bank which ever existed. if everyone does the same thing wrong, that is only one thing being done wrong. People thinking in HULs will never have this problem. Thinking in dollars, a HUL was $1.50 when I was one. It is about $8.00 for those who are HULs today. In both cases, it trades for the same size hole in the ground.

Related factors mentioned in Nash’s lecture

Welfare Economics

“A related topic is that of the considerations to be given by society and the national state to ‘social equity’ and the general ‘economic welfare’.

MD: But we at MD know that (welfare) has nothing whatever to do with money. So we should be able to skip this whole topic … but of course we can’t because we’ve been given this study assignment.

Here the key viewpoint is methodological, as we see it. How should society and the state authorities seek to improve economic welfare generally and what should be done at times of abnormal economic difficulties or ‘depression’?

MD: I don’t know and don’t care … as long as they don’t try to do it by manipulating the MOE process.

We can’t go into it all, but we feel that actions which are clearly understandable as designed for the purpose of achieving a ‘social welfare’ result are best.

MD: Best for whom? “real” money is not concerned. People can “use” it to do the things they feel are good. They can even “create” it to do so … as long as they also return and destroy as they promise to do. But they absolutely cannot “counterfeit” it to do the good things they want to do. That results in bad things for others … and a “proper” MOE process cares nothing about good or bad. It just cares about strict adherence to the process, thereby achieving the predicted and desired result … with zero outside meddling.

And in particular, programs of unemployment compensation seem to be comparatively well structured so that they can operate in proportion to the need.”[3]

MD: Unemployment compensation is no different than broken car compensation. If you can’t cover the risk through self insurance, you better be buying insurance. Regardless, that is no concern of a “proper” MOE process. Nash, this is oh so easy! Are you being paid to give these lectures?

Generally, the social welfare is what we always expect to be improved, and if there is really an ideal money, the whole economy would be influenced, including the social welfare.

MD: Why say the ideal money should do it? Why not say the ideal drug should do it. Or the ideal bullet should do it? “Social welfare” is not the business of money. Trading over time and space is the business of money.

Money, Utility, and Game Theory

MD: You gotta love it when they throw in game theory. Can string theory be far behind? How about global warming?

The concept of utility generally appears in the field of economics but it can be connected with the game theory in mathematics. In the game theory of economics, “utility” is a very important and essential factor. In the book (on game theory and economic behavior) written by the mathematician John von Neumann and the economist Oskar Morgenstern, a utility function is proved, which can be used to put the individual’s preference on the interval scale, and the utility is always preferred to be maximized. (More details can be found in Von Neumann–Morgenstern utility theorem.)

MD: And this is the exact same kind of nonsense Mises spends most of his really boring words on. When it comes to money, why traders make the trades they do is completely irrelevant. We see time and time again “buyers remorse”. It can happen in a day. Or it can happen over several years (e.g. in the case of a boat purchase … two days of glee, the day they buy it and the day they sell it … other than that, it’s just a hole in the water into which they throw money). That’s all irrelevant to the subject of money. But we have our assignment to study this nonsense!

In John Nash’s lecture about ideal money, he gave the opinion that we can through observing the changing relationship between the money and the utility transfer to see “how the ‘quality’ of a money standard can strongly affect the areas of the economy involving financing with longer-term credits.

MD: With a “proper” MOE process, quality is in the transparency and the efficacy of the process. The quality of the governor on a diesel engine is more complicated than that … its parts can break. The MOE process is either operating objectively as dictated … or it is not. Only in the former case does it have quality of any kind … and that quality is of the perfect kind.

And also, we can see that money itself is a sort of ‘utility’, using the word in another sense, comparable to supplies of water, electric energy or telecommunications.

MD: Absolute nonsense. It is never proper to think of money “supply”. A proper MOE process has media is perpetual free supply. There is always exactly as much there as is needed … no more … no less. Nash … no gold stars for you!

And then, if we think about it, money may become as comparable to the quality of some ‘public utility’like the supply of electric energy or of water.”[3] The game theory of economics is a good way to check whether the quality of a money is ideal or not.

MD: The way to check the quality of money is by observing its universal acceptance in use … and observing its trait (built in) of perpetual zero inflation of the money itself. The latter will enable and result in the former.

Keynesians

“The thinking of J. M. Keynes was actually multidimensional and consequently there are quite different varieties of persons at the present time who follow, in one way or another, some of the thinking of Keynes.

MD: “Multidimensional”? As in wishy washy? … yep … as in wishy washy.

A very famous saying of Keynes was ‘…in the long run we will all be dead…’”[3] Keynesian economics gives the opinion: in the short run, the change in economic output has a strongly relationship with the change in aggregate demand, the output is always affected by the demand.

MD: How about this from us here at MD: In the long run, inflation of real money will be zero; and in the short run inflation of real money will be zero. It’s more true than what Keynes said … some people die before the long run.

And look what they’re talking about: “aggregate demand”. Money doesn’t care about demand. It is in free supply. There is always in circulation the exact amount that is needed … or some trader is creating it as we speak.

If there is an ideal money which can be stable in a very long period, we do not really need to worry about lots of problems in the long run.

MD: Real money is perfectly stable … perpetually … as is a HUL and the size hole it trades for. It never worries about any problems … long run or short. It perpetually mitigates defaults experienced with interest collections of like amount and this is a stabilizing negative feedback loop.

Asymptotically ideal money

MD: OH PLEASE!!!!!

Main idea

Asymptotically ideal money is the currency close to but still not ideal money. In John Nash’s lecture, “Ideal Money and Asymptotically Ideal Money” focused on” the connection between fluctuation in inflation and exchange rates and the perceived long-term value of money”, he mentioned that: “‘Good money’ is money that is expected to maintain its value over time. ‘Bad money’ is expected to lose value over time, as under conditions of inflation.

MD: So money from a “proper” MOE process (i.e. real money) is “good money”. It (the process) guarantees it (the media) will hold its value in HULs over all time everywhere. It cannot be made to do otherwise without violating the process … at which point it is no longer “the process” … it is no longer “real” money.

The policy of inflation targeting, whereby central banks set monetary policy with the objective of stabilizing inflation at a particular rate, leads in the long run to what Nash called ‘asymptotically ideal money’ – currency that, while not achieving perfect stability, becomes more stable over time.”[4] That means if a currency has shown a trend to be more stable,it could become an asymptotically ideal money or even the ideal money in the future.

MD: A “proper” MOE process is subject to no such manipulation. Thus it can only produce “ideal” results. But the results are only ideal for the traders. They are far from ideal for the money changers or the governments they institute for their protection and force in applying their scam. And they are not ideal results for those in the business of finance. Their cherished and worshiped expression (1+i)^n from which they claim the time value of money … well, it always produces 1.000 … i.e. “real” money has zero time value. So those in the scam of finance need to find other work.

Euro

Currencies may become (asymptotically) ideal money

Euro

John Nash mentioned in his lecture that Euro might become an ideal money in the future, because Euro is used in a large range of places and has a good stability.

MD: We here at MD wished they talked to us when they created the Euro. We could have told them exactly how to do it to make it perfect “real” money (for traders that is). But the Euro was created by money changers to gain control over lots of countries at the same time. It is an open scam … and BREXIT is saying, we’re out … we want to run our own scam. Note, the Euro scam, like our own Constitution scam has no buy/sell agreement.

It is the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union and is the official currency of the eurozone which consists of 18 of the 28 member states of the European Union. In general, Euro has a macroeconomic stability, people in Europe owning large amounts of euros are “served by high stability and low inflation.” Moreover, in March 2014, Euro was commented as “an island of stability” by the head of the European Central Bank.[5]

MD: Every one of those individual entities in the European Union could have instituted their own “proper” MOE process. Ideally, they all would have adopted the HUL as the logical choice for unit of measure. If they had done that, all their money would be freely exchanged with a constant exchange rate … that being 1.000. Had they done that, there would have been no reason to “unionize”. And there wouldn’t be a European Central Bank; or 18 central banks; or 28 central banks. there would be “no central banks”. Just certified certifiers with transparent operations employing a “proper” MOE process. What’s not to love about the simple and the obvious?

References

 

 

External links

Cafe Hayek: Assumptions of Right

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 21, 2017

… is from page 359 of the late Paul Heyne‘s insightful 1981 article “Measures of Wealth and Assumptions of Right: An Inquiry” as it is reprinted in the 2008 collection of Heyne’s writings, “Are Economists Basically Immoral?” and Other Essays on Economics, Ethics, and Religion (Geoffrey Brennan and A.M.C. Waterman, eds.) (footnote deleted):

MD: Notice how the Mises Monks never just cite an article and not its author. As in this case, there is always hyperbole … e.g. Paul Hayne’s “insightful” article. This is a Mises Monk marker.

 

Marxists have long complained that conventional economic analysis takes for granted the existing system of property rights.  The charge is fundamentally correct.

MD: Let’s see if he exposes the alternative to this? Hint: No he doesn’t.

Am I likely to paint a house that isn’t mine? Am I likely to build a house on property that isn’t mine?

 

Offers to supply goods and efforts to purchase goods always depend upon people’s expectations of what they can and may do under specific contemplated circumstances.  What a person may do expresses, in the broadest sense, that person’s property rights.

MD: Remember … a right is a defended claim. Here we have an implicit claim and no defense suggested. Do we really think we have a right being talked about here?

In order to predict, explain, or even talk intelligibly about those patterns and instances of social interaction that we call “the economy,” we must begin with people’s expectations, that is, their property rights.

MD: Why do they see the economy as a “social” interaction? If everything was an automat, would it still be a social economy? An economy is about trade. There is nothing social about trade in most cases. The purpose of advertising is to socialize it … but that’s not an attribute … it’s just a tactic

 

DBx: To avoid possible misunderstanding, I would have slightly reworded the final sentence of this quotation to read: “In order to predict, explain, or even talk intelligibly about those patterns and instances of social interaction that we call “the economy,” we must begin with people’s legitimate expectations – namely, those expectations that are widely shared and agreed to throughout the community – that is, their property rights.”

MD: Ah … now you talk about a great Misesian improvement. Add more words and say even less.

Heyne’s point is profound and important.  Obviously, we cannot possibly distinguish illegitimate coercion against others from the legitimate exercise or defense of one’s rights until we know in sufficient detail the property-rights arrangement.

MD: Which will be found in a spaghetti of conflicting laws, rather than a simple statement of principle … like the golden rule.

If I break the window of a house at 123 Elm St. and then enter, you cannot know from this physical act if I am burgling the house (and hence, violating someone’s property right) or entering the house with the permission of the homeowner (namely, in this example, myself who locked myself out of this house that I own).

What is less obvious, but no less important, is the fact that property rights boil down to shared expectations.

MD: And of course “principles” are shared expectations. Laws are not.

In modern America (as in most modern societies) ownership of a house includes the widely shared expectation that in all but extreme circumstances – for example, when the house is engulfed in fire – the right to decide who may enter the house is reserved to the homeowner.  Ultimately, this right rests on widely shared expectations.  If I, a modern American, move to some community in which the widely shared expectation is that anyone who wishes may enter unannounced into any house in that community, with or without the permission of the owner or occupants, and by whatever means, then no right of mine is violated if some stranger breaks into my house.

MD: And can we picture any collection of people who would see this behavior as adhering to the golden rule? Actually we can. Most utopian societal communal failures see things this way.

Expectations, being what they are, can be affected by the formal legal and legislative codes, but expectations can also diverge from these codes.

MD: Which makes those codes pretty worthless, doesn’t it … especially when we get 40,000+ new ones every year.

(An example of such a divergence is the fact that in some U.S. states – I think, for instance, in Massachusetts – it remains an ‘on-the-books’ criminal offense for two adults who aren’t married to each other to have consensual sex with each other.  Yet community expectations now no longer regard such activities to be unlawful.)  Expectations change more frequently (especially in open societies) than does the formal law and the legislative codes, and expectations are always more nuanced and ‘granular’ than articulated legal rules or legislative commands can possibly be.

MD: But if were about principles rather than laws, the golden rule principle would easily address this … i.e. it’s only the business of the two people involved.

At bottom, a society’s laws are its widely shared expectations about how individuals may and may not act toward each others’ persons and toward the material things, as well as the symbols and markers, that individuals possess and use as they conduct their affairs both individually and in groups.

MD: A misstatement. Its principles, not its laws, are the widely shared expectations. Its laws are a hopelessly flawed attempt to nail down the jello which is those principles. As I’ve stated before, it would take an unlimited number of laws to nail down the principle of the golden rule.

(By the way, do watch the 1997 movie, The Castle.)

Cafe Hayek: Who’d a Thunk

Who’d a-Thunk It?

by Don Boudreaux on August 14, 2017

in Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen, Work

We study the effect of minimum wage increases on employment in automatable jobs – jobs in which employers may find it easier to substitute machines for people – focusing on low-skilled workers from whom such substitution may be spurred by minimum wage increases.

MD: If we had a “proper” MOE process, those engaged in conducting these studies would be out of work. Thus, we probably can’t expect them to be supportive of a proper MOE process … and zero inflation … can we!

Based on CPS data from 1980-2015, we find that increasing the minimum wage decreases significantly the share of automatable employment held by low-skilled workers, and increases the likelihood that low-skilled workers in automatable jobs become unemployed.

MD: Those who are engaged in compiling CPS data and pondering it would be out of work with a zero inflation proper MOE process. Increasing the minimum wage does not decrease the share of automatable employment … it increases it (but that’s really what he meant to say). Instituting a “proper” MOE process will eliminate a huge number of government jobs … and financial and economics jobs in industry as well. Rather than automating away what they do (which computers continuously do), it eliminates the necessity of their work all together. When inflation is guaranteed to be zero, what is a CPS analyst to do? (1+i)^n is perpetually 1.00000. In that case, it’s not about replacement, it’s about wasted counterproductive effort in the first place. But then what are the scholars of articles like this … who haven’t been able to “get it” in the face of the “obvious” … what are they going to do?

The average effects mask significant heterogeneity by industry and demographic group, including substantive adverse effects for older, low-skilled workers in manufacturing.

MD: Automation has in fact helped “older” low skilled workers. Where they would normally become physically incapable of doing the work, they can continue to do it with hydraulic and electrical assistance … just by pushing buttons. Without the automation, they would have “taken themselves” out of the game earlier. Automation is really a boon for older unskilled … and skilled … workers. But that’s really what he meant to say … right?

The findings imply that groups often ignored in the minimum wage literature are in fact quite vulnerable to employment changes and job loss because of automation following a minimum wage increase.

MD: Well duh!

That’s the abstract of a new paper by Grace Lordan and David Neumark, titled “People Versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs.”  (emphasis added)

Reality is not optional and the law of demand holds for low-skilled labor no less than it holds for kumquats, for yoga instruction, and for high-quality jewelry.

MD: But the mechanism is sticky and has a dead band. Eliminate the relative motion (i.e. inflation) and then the effects of the  coefficient of static friction and deadband don’t come into play at all. The static forces remain constant … they don’t build up to a point of violent release!

Indeed, the law of demand is universal.  Therefore, government diktats requiring all workers to insist on being paid at least some minimum hourly wage from employers will cause the quantities of any given kind of low-skilled labor demanded by employers to be fewer than these quantities would be in the absence of such diktats.

MD: Government cannot survive with zero inflation. That “is” what sustains all government. And that inflation is also what lets the money changers maintain their illusion of the “time value of money” and thus their demand for tribute (for their claim of being the creators of the money). With zero inflation, both money changers and the governments they institute are “high, dry, and looking for a ball player” … i.e. they’re out of business.

Minimum-wage proponents fancy themselves to be champions of the poor, but these fancies are belied by the reality that minimum wages reduce the employment prospects of the very people that well-meaning minimum-wage proponents intend to help.

MD: But when you have a 4% leak in the money, how in the world are you going to keep from grinding the unskilled labor right into the dirt? Remember, we were all unskilled labor at one point in our lives.

(HT Frank Stephenson)