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I am the new king of Earth. All current wars have ceased, and the whole planet operates as one kingdom. We have also decided on a currency. However, in order to pay off debt/create more buildings and roads/create more public services, I'd like to print off more money. That, in the normal world, would cause hyper-inflation, and drop a country's monetary value. It'd also mean prices for everything would go up. However, I want to stop this occurring. So, how do I get away with printing off more money and stopping inflation?

A tax on inflated goods might be a good idea, however that would also mean prices would go up even further to get profit. I'd also want my system to be humane, and keep the majority happy. Fortunately, because the whole world is a united kingdom, the problem of trading between countries with different currencies is nonexistent.

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    $\begingroup$ You do not want to stop inflation: you want to keep it between 1% and 2% per year. The optimal inflation rate is generally considered to be about 1.5% per year; this (1) stimulates investment (because keeping money out of circulation is a losing proposition), (2) allows the government to spend a little more money than it has, (3) erodes the value of debts so that debitors have a chance to pay them off eventually. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 8 '18 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ Financial regulation. Once you can set prices, costs, wages and salaries, interest rates and currency rates for the entire planet, inflation will be on the run. No need to print money. $\endgroup$ – a4android May 8 '18 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ There are many ways to raise funds for your program. Printing more money is only one alternative. If you are worried about inflation, then explore the others. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 8 '18 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the premise of the question. Our entire (global) economic model is based on having a portfolio of currencies that change value relative to each other. If you reduce the entire planet's financials to one currency, and put all the power of financial decision-making in one entity's hands, there's no longer a reference against which a specific currency would inflate (or otherwise change value). $\endgroup$ – dwizum May 8 '18 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android: Emperor Diocletian tried it; see the sad story of his Edictum de Pretiis Rerum Venalium (Edit on the Prices of Things for Sale). $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 8 '18 at 22:52
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I think you simply cannot.

If currency is a reflection of the total wealth of a country, printing more money has the mathematical consequence of bringing inflation.

Example:

  • your nation only good are bananas.
  • Your entire nation has only 10 bananas.
  • you print a currency, let's call it bananero. You print 10 bananeros.

As a consequence, 1 banana is worth 1 bananero, or 1 bananero buys 1 banana.

Now you want more money, so your print 90 bananeros more. You end up with a total of 100 bananeros, but you still have 10 bananas.

This means 1 banana is now worth 10 bananeros, or 1 bananero buys 1/10 of a banana.

The only way out of this mathematical tyranny is to have more bananas, so that the ratio money/goods stays the same.

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  • $\begingroup$ Does the same theory apply to sevices as well(they're not physical things?) $\endgroup$ – bio May 8 '18 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @bio indeed it does. Think of money as a point of comparison between different products and services. If a banana (on average) takes 1 person day to produce, and an apple (on average) takes 2 person days to produce, then an apple is worth 2 bananas. Obviously supply and demand as an impact on this as well, but Dutch's point is that money is simply a measure of % of production, in this case every banana represents 10% of production, or 10% of the currency. Add in different goods or services and this % production model still holds. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II May 9 '18 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ @TimBII Another way to think about this is to consider work-hours as a finite resource (one that depends on the size of the working-age, able-bodied population), and work out the value of them. You can reduce unemployment or redirect labour towards particular ends, but eventually you end up inflating wages if you just add money. $\endgroup$ – Chromatix May 11 '18 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for bananero. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB May 11 '18 at 18:08
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Theory 1

If you managed to add enough growth to the economy with your new infrastructure, then it should avoid inflation. That is, if your roads involved doubling the money in circulation, but made production so darn effective that people produced twice the number of widgets, the widget price would be about the same.

Theory 2

You fix the prices of everything, by law, at what they are today. This will cause some people to have N dollars for a loaf of bread but not be able to afford it. This is similar to concerts in the real world, and will likely lead to scalping

Theory 3

You could back the new money by national (or nationalized) assets. E.g. "petrobucks" entitling the bearer to a dollars worth of petrol from the nationalized oil industry. In this case, it's almost preselling, but youy establish an exchange rate earlier. It means cutting into your future revenue. You can look into the various gold backed currencies where they were redeemable for what was, at the time, an equivalent amount of gold.

Theory 4

You probably don't want to hear it, but there doesn't seem to be a reason to print money. You can use debt, taxes, or even the profits from nationalized industries to fund your projects. You can literally have people spending time working on the buildings/roads. Similarly, you can decide you no longer owe debt.

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It's a balancing act.

There are times when you have to print more money, in fact you should keep printing money, a steady rate of inflation is good for an economy as it stops people keeping large amounts of cash under the mattress.

What you need to keep away from is the idea that you can print money to pay your bills, you absolutely cannot do that.

What you do is borrow money

I'm sure you've noticed that the majority of economies are in debt. Lots of debt, and interestingly they never seem to pay that debt off. That's not strictly true, individual debts are paid off, but the overall debt keeps growing. Don't worry about that, just keep going with your safe steady plan, you print a little money every year to keep steady inflation, You keep investing to maintain some growth. You borrow money at a rate lower than the sum of inflation and growth, ideally you borrow at a rate lower than inflation. What this means is that the debt is devaluing faster than it's increasing, but lending money to you should be the safest thing the lender could possibly do with it. You're always in debt, the debt is apparently growing, but as a proportion of your income debt is shrinking.

Always pay your debts.

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You are the despotic ruler of the entire world. This means that you have absolute rule over what is and is not law and can set any arbitrary policy you see fit. Importantly, as you are the undisputed ruler of the entire world, you have no competition or outside influences upon your kingdom. With this in mind,

You have the sole last say on the value of currency

Your money cannot be devalued relative to another because there is no other currency. If it is backed by a real resource (like oil or gold) then its value can be taken at face value as being equivalent to whichever exchange it is backed by. If it's not backed by a real resource, then its worth is solely determined by the value assigned to it by people, with you the absolute monarch being able to dictate that value. In short, the money is worth as much as you say it is, because no one is around to tell you otherwise.

Mind you, this is something that will work better the less scarcity there is. If there is significant scarcity, then people will likely skirt your restrictions, possibly forming black markets and other bad stuff that you don't want. Re-sellers and smugglers will always exist.

But why stop there? You have absolutely authority, so start seizing the means of production. Take apart artificial scarcities that do not benefit your new world order, flood the market with goods and put resources into transportation infrastructure to control local scarcity as much as possible as well. Hire as many middle men as needed to micro-manage the whole world's economy and set prices, wages, interest rates and other economic indicators to whatever place you need them to be.

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  • $\begingroup$ except commodity money can also undergo inflation, Spain experienced that when they flooded their own silver market. $\endgroup$ – John May 9 '18 at 0:55
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    $\begingroup$ People will turn to barter or "create" their own currencies (prisoners used to use cigarettes as currency) if the official currency no longer has any relation to the amount of goods or services being produced. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides May 10 '18 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ "You have the sole last say on the value of currency" - not true. $\endgroup$ – ChuckCottrill May 10 '18 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ @John Spain had to compete with the currencies of rival European nations and to deal with many more actual scarcities than apply to the modern world. I don't mean to imply that there would be no kickback against asserting dictatorial control over the economy, but I don't think historical nations are directly comparable to a true world order. Also, while flooding the market with a resource can devalue a currency backed by that resource, this question is not concerned with actually doing so. It is presumably backed by something other than manual labour, if it is a backed currency at all. $\endgroup$ – Kaosubaloo May 10 '18 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides What you are saying is true. This is why I elaborated upon controlling artificial and actual scarcities as being important. If the important things in your Kingdom are not scarce, bread and circus, shelter and water, then a black market of barter currency might be acceptable to the kingdom. You wouldn't want it to be too powerful or too valuable because that could create instability, but there is definitely a level of back-room dealings that are acceptable to allow for this world order without it mucking with other important aspects of the world-state. $\endgroup$ – Kaosubaloo May 10 '18 at 17:25
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Forget about money. Yes, you'll have to frame it in terms of capital at some point, but forget about it at first.

Fundamentally you are trying to control 3 things:

  • Who "owns" things.
  • What activities are done (think "services")
  • Things which are some mixture of ownership and services.

You simply cannot have more control over what is owned/done without having more control over what is owned/done. And, as it turns out, people don't mind the loss of little green pieces of paper. What they mind is that those green pieces of paper represented their control over what is owned/done.

It is on this level that you decide what makes your kingdom mostly happy. In the most general of senses, citizens are okay losing a lot of control if the government is doing things they want to see. If their loss of control is instead to permit some king to have a lavish lifestyle, they are less happy with it. If you can convince your citizens that it's a good thing to spend effort and allocate ownership the way you want to, then you can use any instrument you please to accomplish the goal, including printing money.

Once you are at that point, then you can start looking at vehicles to make it happen. Income taxes, consumption taxes, tariffs (even in a "whole Earth kingdom"), printing money, and even physical highway robbery can be valid vehicles, depending on what you need to make the citizens happy with what is owned/done.

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Yes there is one way, print more money only when total production increases, that is print more money only when the amount of available labor, services, and goods increases. By doing this you can keep the relative value of your current the same, of course this is difficult to manage becasue total production is difficult to measure, and rarely does everything increase at the same time.

Basically if you want to print more money you have to invest in research and infrastructure first to increase production so you can then print more money to keep up.

this is especially important for you since if you are in debt, it is to your own populace, thus if the money you give them is worth less you are killing your own economy.

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Ultimately, money is used to buy people's time.

You might think you are paying for a road; in fact you are paying for people to spend time with shovels and jackhammers, people to quarry stone and drill for oil, people to build and maintain the machinery, and people to transport the raw materials to the site. Not to mention yet more people to decide precisely where and how it should be built in the first place.

Some people value their time more than others; there are only so many waking hours in each day, and fatigue sets in quickly if you try to stretch them, or if you try to work through too many days in a row. Most people will try to earn as much money for their time as their education and training permits.

You can influence people to spend their time on projects that are important to you, by offering contracts to do so at a high enough price. Some (possibly much) of that money will be spent on supplies; the rest will be distributed among the workers and managers on the spot. At this stage, where the money comes from is irrelevant; if you control the Treasury, you can print it out of thin air, and it will be accepted at face value.

The above marks about as far as your current understanding reaches.

One must also understand that people working on your project are not working on other projects as a consequence. Other roads will develop more potholes, farms will go uncultivated, cars and computers will not be manufactured - because the people who would normally see to them are instead working on this new project of yours that earns them more money.

Yes, unemployment has also gone down a bit, but not everyone is inherently suited to construction work, and there's a finite supply of the unemployed. In fact, in many places the construction industry is concerned about a shortage of skilled labour. The same goes for the mining, chemical, transport and high-tech industries which feed into your project.

For a single project that's not a very large effect, but it adds up when you initiate a global programme of them. The result is that the supply of goods goes down a bit.

All these newly-enriched people then want to spend their money in order to benefit from it. To begin with, they buy food - construction work is hungry work, after all. With financial security, they move to larger homes, start families, and buy cars and computers and kitchen appliances. They travel to see the world, and need good roads to do so.

In short, demand for goods goes up a bit. But supply of goods has been going down at the same time. The net effect is an increase in prices and a reduction in consumer satisfaction.

The increased prices help to rebalance the economy. The price of food goes up, so being a farmer becomes worthwhile again. Profit margins on gaming computers go up, so chip fabs shift production to CPUs and graphics cards instead of industrial microcontrollers and sensors. Car manufacturers increase their wages and salaries, to bring in enough labour to increase production to meet demand.

Workers begin to leave your project behind, because they feel you're not paying them enough any more - even though your terms are still nominally as generous as they originally were. In order to entice them back, you must increase your own offers still further - and print yet more money to fund them.

This is a vicious cycle. This is how inflation happens.

If it happens quickly enough, the price increases become so noticeable that the perceived value of your currency goes down even faster - people start charging higher prices because they believe prices will increase further before they can spend their earnings - which leads directly to hyperinflation.

The root cause, though, is that you've been increasing the money supply faster than the supply of work hours and productivity. To avoid it, you must fund your projects without increasing the money supply.

Taxation is one of the traditional answers to this problem. Conveniently, one of the major expenditures normally funded by taxation - the military - can now be downsized, since you are so confident that wars will no longer occur (though I suspect you might be wrong in practice). So you can keep taxation roughly constant, and redirect trillions of dollars per annum from the military-industrial complex into public works.

Job done.

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There are several ways you can try to solve this problem.

Modern Monetary Theory

The closest proposal to this by real economists is that you can add as much money as you want into the system, if you also take it out.

Conventionally, countries pay for things by taxing and borrowing, but this theory holds that it could equivalently print money and prevent inflation by taking some of it back. If the money isn't in circulation, it won't raise prices. You still tax and sell bonds, but the purpose of it isn't to raise revenues (You did that by printing money.) but to reduce inflation.

Something like this was seriously proposed during the US debt-ceiling crisis in 2011. Without going into the ins and outs, because only the economics and not the politics are of interest here, the US government was caught in a bind where it had expenses to pay, only so much money in its accounts, and there was a law on the books saying it could not borrow more. One idea that was suggested to get around this was a loophole that said the Treasury could mint platinum coins, without any limit on the face value. So, it was suggested, the US could mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin and deposit it at the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve then had far more than a trillion dollars' worth of bonds in its portfolio, essentially IOUs from Uncle Sam to itself, so it would sell a trillion dollars' worth of Treasury bonds. It would then return the coin to the Treasury, which would melt it down. The overall result would be that the money supply would remain the same, and the net public debt would increase by a trillion dollars. That would have been exactly equivalent to borrowing a trillion dollars!

This isn't a free lunch, of course. If you sell real assets to absorb the monetary expansion, you lose them. If you sell bonds you can print, you're on the hook to repay those bonds (and if you keep rolling over the entire debt, it grows exponentially and you'll get inflation when you try to repay them). If you try to take money out of circulation with, say, a sales tax or VAT, then you've raised prices just like you were trying to avoid.

We don't know how well this would really work in practice, because nobody's ever tried it.

Conventional Monetary Policy

Most central banks today have an inflation target and try to make the money supply hit it, mostly by reducing how much money banks lend out. The main alternative, peghing the value of your currency to another currency, isn't available to you because there are no other currencies in the world. Formerly, most countries were on a gold or silver standard, but mainstream economics no longer considers this a good idea.

How Much New Money is Enough?

Central banks look at a number of indicators of inflation, including growth of wages and asset prices, but one important modern tool is the spread between fixed-rate and inflation-indexed bonds. In theory, this tells you how high the markets, with real money at stake, expect inflation to get. That is, if people are buying and selling a bond that pays out 1% above inflation like an equally-risky bond that paid 4%, they implicitly are betting that inflation will be 3%, and this should be true when they make long-term contracts as well.

Some Other Considerations

Another unconventional economic-policy idea that gained some adherents in the last recession was nominal-GDP targeting. That is, you specify that the goal is for the money supply to grow by 5%. So if 3% of that is real growth, inflation should be 2%, but if real growth is only 1%, inflation should be 4%. Some economists believe this will mitigate the impact of recessions: if businesses expect to make 5% more in revenue next year, whether the economy is hot or cool, they can invest with confidence.

You don't have any exchange rates to worry about, with one global currency, but the world is not an optimal currency area. Since countries with uncompetitive industries won't see their currencies get cheaper, you will have to notice this and fix it yourself.

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