Never before in my life time have I heard more fuss and talk about money, the economy, banking systems and banking products. Never. Not even in 2008, with the sh*t really hit the fan with the global financial crisis. It is endless.
As usual, the news is full of doom and gloom, but this just feels different. The public are more knowledgeable and something is building. This 99 % movement is growing rapidly. We are the 99% after all. I will come onto how I am going to make £1Billion a bit later. Lets get some background out of the way first…
I was in Venice last week and was got to go to the Biennale for the first time (Big cheesy grin).
The world financial situation was represented in the art at the exhibition and there were placards and notices all over the city, in the strangest of places. It was inspiring to see artists and the people responding in this way, especially with recent events in Italy. More pics below.
I digress… I don’t claim to be an expert in financial matters, but with all of this going on, we, the public, don’t seem to have a choice but to learn. It is interesting that some rumour about a company can cause it’s shares to come crashing down in value over night. It is interesting to me that countries are on the brink of bankruptcy and their leaders are being forced out and replaced by ex leaders of the real rulers of this world, banks. Well Goldman Sachs to be precise. Goldman Sachs rules the world. Just ask Berlusconi.
Right up to country level, we appear to be in this nonsensical position which means that you borrow money (which does not really exist) at a certain interest rate. You pay the money back, but something happens because yes, bad things happen in life sometimes and you can not make your monthly payment for a month or two. What happens then? The loan company puts on a whole heap of charges and hikes up your interest rate to add pepper to the stew. All of a sudden, you owe more money than you borrowed in the first place and what you have been paying off for the past five years counts for absolutely nothing. How utterly depressing. The longer you are in that position, the more hopeless it becomes, and so the cycle continues. When individuals are in that position, what can you do but moan, continue in your JOB (just over broke) and keep trying to make those payments knowing at the back of your mind that unless you win the lottery, your going to be paying that shit off for life. Sucker.
But wait, why do banks loan money (which does not physically exist) to people who have not got a hope in hell of ever paying it back? Why did the European economies lend money to each other- and I am talking billions of pounds to each other when the countries they were lending to were broke as hell and never had a hope in hell of ever paying back? Wait, the lenders themselves were already broke right? Where did they get the money to lend?
I got this quote direct from a video which I think explains the mess pretty well:
“When banks make loans, they create additional [bank] deposits for those that have borrowed the money.” These ‘bank deposits’ are just the numbers in your account.
Martin Wolf, the chief economics editor at the Financial Times, says that “The essence of the contemporary monetary system is the creation of money, out of nothing, by private banks’ often foolish lending.”
Here is the video:
Here is another one which breaks down the European situation in a humorous way.
I am no economist. I am an artist with an interest in what is going on. All of this got me thinking. I think I had watched yet another news story about all this financial doom and gloom and all of a sudden I was inspired. Nothing deep. I just decided to create my own currency. Create my own mini economy! Ha! I want lots of money, I guess you could call me a capitalist artist, even though, clearly, money is not why I do what I do. I am no Damien Hirst. Well not yet. In any case, I want lots of money. These days lots of money is a billion plus. So why not MAKE lots of money. Not in the conventional sense. I’m not going to get a high flying job, or set up some cash generating business. Nor am I going to start illegally printing bank notes. I am just going to make my own paper money. I have started already. I have a prototype. They are small notes. Each one has it’s own value. Each one will have some markings on it representative of what we see as paper money today, but I will put my own spin on it and it will have my name on it. My target is to make £1Billion worth of my currency. I have no time limit and there are no rules apart from, I am not going to make a one billion pound note or a million pound note. That would be pointless. I will make notes that range in value depending on what I decide to value them at. It could be because of time spent or some special technique. We will see how it evolves.
Now I know this has been done before in a way. Artist Dadara started the Exchangibition Bank. An interesting project which raises interesting questions about the value of art and indeed the value of money. His pop up banks have appeared all over Amsterdam and he has had quite a lot of press attention as a result.
I guess you could say what I am doing is similar. Maybe my aims are a bit different. I do want to raise questions and get this discussion going within the art community. He makes reference to the fact that money is often hoarded in banks- true and not true when you consider that essentially the majority of transactions these days are done electronically with fictional money that the bank has created as a virtual deposit. In any case, I will be stock piling my money until I get to a billion. So, there will be no literal exchange of art for money or money for art when it comes to my currency. Therein lies the fundamental difference I think. Physical exchange will only occur when I get to the billion mark. For that reason, I must keep my currency stable, at the same exchange rate, regardless of what happens to the pound.
My currency is called AAD. It stands for the initials of my full name. Not very original to name a currency after me, but hey, what can I say, it is my currency so my rules right! The Adelaide Damoah. Right, so I am setting my own exchange rate against the GBP for simplicity.
1AAD= 20 GBP
By my calculations, that means that I will have to make 50 million AAD’s in order to make £1Billion.
I still need to come up with my currency symbol. Working on that. My website logo is way to complex…
Artists, I challenge you to join me if you want. We can create our own mini economy with our own rules. This is where things could get interesting. Imagine we are all making our own currencies in our own names with our own exchange rates. We could have our own stock exchange under our own control. I wonder what would happen if we let it go to a free market economy. Would traders be trading artists currencies on some artist stock exchange in the same way as the real life stock exchange- without any real exchange of the currency. All numbers on a computer. I don’t think we should allow that to happen, but it would be interesting to see if it is evolves into something like that. To see if we would make the same mistakes as the (w)bankers.
I think we should maintain a difference between our “system” and the banking system. The difference between us and the banking system will be that because of who we are, our notes will have real value. We are artists and each unit of currency will be unique in its own right as a piece of art and that is what will give it value. We can make up the rules as we go along. There is no time limit. I could spend the rest of my life doing this, but hopefully I will get to the Billion mark before I expire out of this world so that I can exhibit my 50 million AAD’s.
They will not be for sale for now- I guess that means that technically, I can not call it an economy. Not until they go onto some sort of market. Anyway, it is not about that. It is about the journey. The evolution of the project. Will it grow to encompass other artists, or will it just end with me? I will keep updating on the blog with pictures of my latest note and I will figure out a way to keep an online count of what figure I am at.
Please share if you think this is interesting. Artists, please add your thoughts and join me if you want. We can create a twitter hash tag #artcurrency or #artmoney, one of those could work… It is a real tangible response to what is happening in the world today, but above all for me, it is fun!
As side note, the central banks of the world- The Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada, and Swiss National Bank- today announced that they were going to create more liquidity in the banking system. What this essentially means is that all of the major banks have been given “more money” to lend at a lower interest rate. The aim being in simple terms to encourage them to lend, as banks have been holding onto their money for fear of what could happen. Anyway, it is now cheaper to buy dollars. The markets are smiling. For now… Read about it in more detail if you like. Links at the bottom.
I thought it was interesting that this injection of cash happened today, the day when I decided to publicise my new money project. How funny. Images of my currency coming soon…