1. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Need help with economy building

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Meteor, Apr 29, 2020.

    I’m really struggling to put together a viable economy for my story I think. I’m using script and some variants but, I didn’t make the script universally valued. I made it so, for example, script from a guy who works for a hospital is more valuable than say the script of someone who works at a grocery store. Should I make it universal in its value or would it be more interesting to leave it how it is now? I originally intended for the resources that back the script to be the services the company that issues the script provide. I added in a premium version too but, made it universal in its value and hard to get for most people. It can also be spent anywhere, unlike regular Script which is usually restricted to the issuing company or its partner companies. The final currency I put in is called NCT, or Network Connection Time, so its literally time. It’s used to access things like the internet and entertainment services or can be spent on things like emergency services at an increased rate. I also made it trade friendly with poor citizens trading it to less poor citizens for script because only script or premium script can buy things like food or pay the rent bills.

    I feel like I’m doing this wrong or backwards maybe. Do you guys have any advice on this one? I get the feeling it should just be backed by some random resource like gold from the olden days or oil how it is now in some places and made it universal. Should I? I mean it’s dystopian and the corporations control all the natural resources anyway.
     
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  2. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I get why each corporation would have their own currency, but unless monetary exchange is outlawed, I don't see the purpose of a universal currency. And any normal currency, at least for those below a certain income, is essentially a measure of time worked anyway, so your NCT seems weird to me.
    It sounds like you have what is essentially a command economy? If so, look at historical examples, such as the Eastern Bloc economies.
     
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  3. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    First, I think you mean 'scrip', not script, and there is no need to capitalize it. This is simply legal tender, like currency, which is issued by an agency (like the armed forces) or private enterprise (such as a mining company) operating in a foreign country. The scrip can only be spent within the auspices of its issuing agency; when the employees go outside, they have to use the regular money. The employer would have an office where they can trade scrip for currency at a fixed rate of exchange.
    I'm having trouble with the concept of scrip having different values. Pegged against what standard? How would the hospital worker buy groceries?
    The time-value component sounds all right, within a closed system. That is, the employee of the media corporation would be paid in entertainment-hours. But it obviously wouldn't transfer to any other system.

    Of course, I know nothing about the society in which this system of variable value currencies would be earned and spent.
    I assume you have worked out the technological level, social structure, organization and allocation of labour, production and distribution of essential goods and services, etc. before you invented the scrip itself.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
  4. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm quite the opposite, actually: I don't see the need for multiple currencies.

    "More valuable" by what measure? Answer that, and you've found your global currency. Pick one, and then adjust prices accordingly. If your story necessitates varying economies that operate independent of one another, then you get into questions of exchange rates or (as suggested above) management of exchange systems (Argentina, for instance, has essentially closed their exchange system to keep their currency from crashing).

    Don't overcomplicate things you don't have clearly-defined reasons for and plot-driving elements.

    Cheers.

    JD
     
  5. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, that! When you overcomplicate some element of a story, you introduce both opportunities for embarrassing mistakes for yourself and sources of confusion for the reader.
     
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  6. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Alright so I guess at this point, what do I use as a backing to the currency? I like the NCT where it is and want it to stay. Big brother and oppression and all of that fancy stuff. I forgot to mention it can only be earned through time worked I think.

    So do away with the scrip exchange value etc. etc. to simplify things is easy enough. I guess I could have scrip valued by something mundane like iron and then premium valued by something like gold? Or should I do away with the premium scrip too?

    thanks for all the replies guys.
     
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  7. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    Why not just issue premium people more of it?
    But, really, you could keep two different grades of scrip on the same standard; just have the mundane ones and premium ones printed on different coloured paper. So, the elite can shop for restricted items, at venues that only accept pink scrip, while the peons can only shop at places that take yellow scrip.
     
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  8. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    It seems to me that scrip would be valued by whatever the company allows you to buy with it. Since it's the only payment that's acceptable for certain items, and workers' lives are presumably strictly regimented, there's no real need for a separate commodity to back it.
     
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  9. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter Contributor

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    In the U.S., the dollar is backed with nothing more than the global belief that it's a strong currency. We went off of the gold standard, where the dollar was backed with the precious metal, decades ago (the 1950s, I believe). But currencies have been backed by gold rather than other metals for a good set of reasons, including: it's malleable, and easy to mint into coins; it can be mined in sufficient quantities to be generally available, but not such quantities that it is "common"; and the most important reason, that gold doesn't combine with oxygen, therefore it doesn't rust or tarnish. Having a coin that doesn't get lighter over time is important to the stability of an economy. Read up on the decline of the Roman empire, and you'll see that, despite invasions from Huns and whatnot, a significant cause for their decline was various emperor's devaluing of the coinage by blending in other metals. Eventually, Roman coins were barely gold, and therefore deteriorated over time.
     
  10. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    Is this an Orwellian dystopia? If not, how do you ensure no informal currency exchange occurs? EG; I walk up to my friend with three of my "Firefighter scrips" and trade them for two "Doctor scrips". If this is possible, you pretty much have floating exchange rates between dozens of currencies with a single result: those crafty enough to observe fluctuations will make a living trading these currencies.

    If the government or a central system determines a static exchange rate (or even one that has "official" changes), you are nowhere further than having shillings, crowns, pennies, pounds, farthings, etc.

    This doesn't make sense. If it's trade friendly, then it'll be used for direct exchange unless you have Orwellian control in the shops.

    I think the good old advice applies here; write what you know. You don't have to re-invent the wheel with a unique currency system to make a world tick and be awesome. It's not really what your system is, but how your characters and world interacts with it.

    Also a note on "Petrodollar" or your reference to "oil backing the dollar":

    This is a common misconception flaunted by conspiracy theorists (related to Big Oil / Rockefeller stuff), and is only partially true. The dollar's value is based on trust in the American economy; to which oil is a sizeable part. However, the dollar's recent fluctuations (before the weird 2020 that is) were explained more by tech & pharma companies than oil. So the right term would be NYSE dollar, as it is mostly influenced by futures trading.
     
  11. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Thanks for the information. Now I hadn’t intended it to be Orwellian but, I guess it could develop into Orwellian. Anyway, as far as the exchange rates go I have everything set up as digital. People have items they have to wear, like the omnitool we see in Mass Effect, that contains all the information about that individual, where they work, who they are etc. and stores it on a main sever corporate controlled server. I intended for whenever someone exchanges their NCT for scrip, whatever scrip they get is automatically valued up or valued down based on their corporation.

    So if a doctor for example gives you 1000 of their scrip and it’s worth more than your scrip the system automatically reads this and drops the value of the scrip to match your scrip. You still got a thousand scrip, it just doesn’t have the buying power of a doctor’s scrip anymore.

    I think I’ll do away with that system though because then it gets crazier when talking about housing and other stuff.
     
  12. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter Contributor

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    It’s totally unsustainable the way you describe it. Economies only work because people participate in them. The mechanisms you describe would drive people outside the official economy into the grey market, and the official market would collapse.
     
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  13. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    All the more reason to go ahead and scrap that part entirely. I’ll stick with something easier, like premium scrip for upper class citizens that grants access to better stuff, or better luxury items.
     
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  14. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    Aha! I missed the boat.Serve me right for editing too long.
    I was going to say it seems unnecessarily complicated, and won't explaining it to the reader be more work than it's worth? but you figured it out.
     
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  15. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I guess I kinda did. I pretty much took your guy’s advice and made regular scrip for regular people with spending/location restrictions and premium scrip for upper class to buy whatever they want with regular citizens having a small annual chance to get a little bit of premium. I kept NCT because I want it to be obvious how much control the corporations have over the people. NCT is exclusively for accessing the internet and entertainment now though. The upper butt crust of society isn’t bound by the NCT restriction though. They have unlimited time.
     
  16. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    Sounds all right.
    You'll probably have saved yourself a lot of head-scratching over how to convey the practical application. All the reader gets to see is the machine in action - you have to understand every least little moving part!
     
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